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Monday 4 August 2003
Colwyn Bay 0 Chester City 2
Attendance: 300 Half Time 0-1

Colwyn Bay: Parry, Porter, Evans, Sudlow, Hobson, McMahon, Williams, M.Johnson, Tranter, McKenzie, P.Johnson. Subs: Campbell, Dews, Kendrick, Roberts.
Chester City:
Brown, Jordan, J.Davis, Coulson (Brady 51), Heard, Kelly (Selkeld 82), Carey (Buckley 80), Lathom, Brodie (Dogun 72), Rapley (Trialist 72), Cameron (D.Byrne 51).
Referee: Cummins.

Kevin Rapley scored his first goal for the club to give City a 39th minute lead with a fine 18 yard shot following a pass from Steve Brodie, the striker also had a golden opportuity to increase the lead just before the break. Earlier the Blues had gone close through a Tom Jordan header, and should have done better when Ian Lathom missed a great chance. At the other end Jamie Heard was in the right place to clear a Bay attack off the line.

The best chances of the second half fell to the Blues, Jordan, watched by dad Joe in the crowd, headed over from a corner when well placed, but the defender got his name on the scoresheet eleven minutes from time when he headed home from a Jon Brady free kick.

Saturday 2 August 2003
Vauxhall Motors 1 Chester City 1
Attendance: 515 Half Time 0-0

Vauxhall Motors: Ralph (Hilton), Ward, McDermott, Robinson, Griffiths, Lawton, McCann, Lynch (Cooper 23), Fearns, Young, Cuminsky. Subs: Wright, Hughes, Cooper.
Chester City:
Brown, Collins, Sodje, Ruffer, McIntyre, Carragher (Brady 45), Carden (Heard 64), B.Davies (Carey 64), Harris (Kelly 64), Rapley (D.Byrne 64), Beesley (Foster 45). Subs not used: Cameron, Brodie, Dogun.
Referee: D.Stewart.
Match Programme

City take another look and Sam Sodje and Matt Carragher as they visit local UniBond Premier League side Vauxhall Motors. Not a lot of action in the first half, in fact only a long range effort from Rapley that grazed the outside of the post to talk about.

Following the breaK Ben Davies hit the bar with a long range effort before a mix-up on 77 minutes between Kevin McIntyre and Wayne Brown allowed Hughes to score for the home side.

Four minutes later Ian Foster neeted his forst goal for the Blues after the ball had fallen for him at the edge of the box. In the closing stages City went close with a Sodje effort being cleared off the line and Hilton pulling off a good save to deny Heard.

Thursday 31 July 2003
Flint Town United 1 Chester City 4
Attendance: 200 Half Time 0-1

Flint Town United: A.Hughes, Scott Beck, Johnson, Jones, Thomas, Lee Taylor, Alcock, S.Hughes, Edwards, Shaun Beck, Peters.
Chester City:
McCaldon, Carragher, Lathom, Carey (Cooke 82), Jordan, J.Davis, Heard, Kelly (Dogun 82), Cameron (Brodie 78), D.Byrne (Trialist 66), Eaton (Buckley 85). Subs not used: Moore, Coulson, Hunter.
Referee: n/a.

Flint Town UnitedA goal by Jimmy Kelly on 44 minutes gives the Blues a half-time lead. Dave Cameron played the ball in to Kelly, he played a one-two with Danny Byrne before slotting the ball home. The best chance prior to the goal fell to Danny Byrne who rounded goalkeeper Hughes but couldn’t finish the chance from a narrow angle. City take a look at three more trialists, defenders Matt Carragher from Port Vale and Tom Jordan (Southend), as well as Macclesfield Town striker David Eaton.

Darren Edwards equalised for United on 64 minutes wit an unstoppable 20 yarder, before Dave Cameron restored the lead nine minutes later heading home a Carragher cross. The Blues scored a third through Byers on 76 minutes before Steve Brodie added the fourth on 79, a minute after he’d replaced Cameron.

Tuesday 29 July 2003
Connah’s Quay Nomads 1 Chester City 2
Attendance: 755 Half Time 0-1

Chester City: Brown, McIntyre, Sodje, Bolland (Collins 45), Hatswell, Brady (Brodie 53), Harris, Carden, B.Davies, Foster (Cameron 68), Beesley (Byrne 53). Subs not used: Kelly, Carey, J.Davies.
Referee: n/a.

Connah's Quay NomadsManager Mark Wright had another look at Sam Sodje tonight as the defender played his second trial game for City at the Deeside Stadium. As last night, City took an early lead, this time through Ben Davies. Kevin McIntyre’s cross was headed on by Ian Foster, the ball hit a Quay defender before Davies applied the finishing touch. Foster had two more chances to increase the lead but things weren’t going all City’s way with Phil Bolland handily placed to make a goal line clearance during a spell of pressure by the home side.

Nomads equalised on 52 minutes with a free header from a corner by George Horan.

Mark Wright introduced three substitutions after that but it took a great close-range header from Ben Davies following a Dave Cameron cross, two minutes from time to settle the game that was played in front of a crowd of 755.

Monday 28 July 2003
Droylsden 0 Chester City 2
Attendance: 175 Half Time 0-1

Chester City: McCaldon, Brady (Byrne 61), Lathom (Coulson 80), Ruffer, Hatswell (Stone 61), Collins (J.Davis 76), Carey, Kelly, Dogun (Selkeld 40), Brodie (Buckley 74), Beesley (Cameron 61). Sub not used: Moore.
Referee: n/a.

DroylsdenThe Blues (reds tonight!) sent a strong side to the Butchers Arms for this friendly game, and it didn’t take long for them to get off the mark as Shaun Carey lashed the ball home from 22 yards after Jimmy Kelly had pulled the ball back for him in the fourth minute. Minutes later Mark Beesley missed a golden one-on-one chance to double the lead.

The Bloods featured three ex-city players in their side; Darren Wright, Leroy Chambers and Chris O’Brien, and the nearest they came to scoring in the first half was from a free-kick that skimmed the top of the City bar.

There was drama on 40 minutes as manager Mark Wright was asked to substitute Peter Dogun after the youngster had made a heavy challenge.

City made several changes during the second half and one of them, Dave Cameron, set up the second goal. Cameron’s 67th minute cross found midfielder Jimmy Kelly, his initial shot was blocked but the rebound was knocked home by Danny Byrne.

Saturday 26 July 2003
Buckley Town 1 Chester City 4
Attendance: 450 Half Time 0-2

Chester City: McCaldon (Brown 64), Ruffer, Hatswell (Stone 64), Collins, McIntyre (Lathom 64), Davies (Dogun 64), Harris (Kelly 64), Carden (Carey 64), Brodie (Brady 64), D.Byrne, Heard.
Referee: n/a.

Two goals in each half brought City victory over their Cymru Alliance opponents Buckley Town at a wet Globe Way. This was mainly a first team run-out and their was another appearance, for 64 minutes, from Ian McCaldon in goal and Danny Stone also played. Three of last season’s reserve side, Danny Byrne, Ian Lathom and Peter Dogun, also made appearances.

City took a first-half lead through Steve Brodie (42), and doubled it with a cracker from Paul Carden on the stroke of half-time. Jamie Heard added a third before manager Mark Wright called the changes with seven substitutions. Danny Byrne extended City’s lead on 80 minutes before the home side pulled back a consolation goal through Chris Roberts two minutes from time.

City finished the game with ten men after Jamie Heard hobbled off through injury, all of City’s substitutions having been made at the time.

Manager Mark Wright was happy with the performance, he said: “It was a good workout at Buckley. We kept the ball and did a lot of good things, but it was more about me being a little bit tentative because the squad is already carrying six injured players. I didn’t want to see any flying tackles, so it was just an exercise of playing one-two touch football and bouncing the ball around, and we did that for long periods.”

Wednesday 23 July 2003
Chester City 2 ADO Den Haag 0
Attendance: 750 Half Time 1-0

Chester City: Brown, Cowan, Sodje, Hatswell, Collins, Harris (Kelly 67), Carden (Carey 62), B.Davies, Brady (McIntyre 60), Twiss (Heard 45), Foster (Brodie 62).
ADO Den Haag: de Groot (de Vries 46), Rijaard (Ros 46), Verberne (Zandstra 80), Van As, Van Heiningen, Huisman (Rosali 46), Pronk, Leonardo, Komeev (Stroeve 62), Cales (Knijnrnburg 72), Platvoet.
Referee: R.Pollock (Liverpool). 

CLICK for larger picturePleasant summer sunshine after a heavy shower made the playing surface at the Deva a picture of billiard table perfection. With the swallows on good form swooping in and out of the eaves of the stands watching football became an added bonus.

The talk was that Den Haag were resting their stars after winning at Sheffield Wednesday the previous evening and would only throw them into the fray to save embarrassment. The main interest for City supporters was to look at the new signings made over the summer and a couple of trialist’s too. Of the former Foster looked full of running up front, running behind the back line in ways reminiscent of Stuart Rimmer. He combined well with Twiss for Chester’s first half goal and he rattled the bar with a drive from the corner of the penalty area. Harris looked very steady, passing with good effect and getting up quickly to support the strikers. The two trialist’s who appeared were Tom Cowan who played at left back, experienced, not so fast, but solid and took several very good corners which had the Dutch defence in a tizz. Then there was Sam Sodje from Margate who looked so accomplished and laid back on the ball he just exuded class throughout what was, admittedly, a low key game. The fans took to him so much they beckoned him over to the Sealand End at the final whistle and high fives were exchanged all round.

Den Haag played the ball across the back for most of the match exhibiting good control but making few chances. They only really threatened towards the end when Joffrey Knijnrnburg came on and showed plenty of class down the right wing. Collins and Hatswell looked a good combination in the centre of defence – useful cover for Bolland and Guyett. City’s second goal came from the spot when the linesman spotted a tackle form behind in the corner of the box. The impressive Davies scored it with confidence.

Colin Mansley
Monday 21 July 2003
Cammell Laird 0 Chester City 1
Attendance: 200 Half Time 0-1

Cammell Laird: Gann, Staff, Hollyfield, Nall, Lynch, Gebb, Couch, Greenhalgh, Davies, Nezianya, Pew. Subs: Farr, Porter, Thompson, Hughes.
Chester City:
McCaldon, Betts (Heard 67), McIntyre (Dudley 67), Ruffer (Stone 82), Hatswell, Brady (Collins 45), Harris (Kelly 45), Carey (Carden 45), Twiss (Brodie 45), Taylor (Rapley (45), Foster (Clare (45).
Referee: D.White (Wirral).

A goal five minutes before the break from Andy Harris, put through by Ian Foster, gave City a narrow 1-0 victory at West Cheshire League side Cammell Laird. The Blues gave a game in goal to Ian McCaldon and also fielded three trialists: Simon Betts (Darlington), Craig Dudley (Burton Albion) and Danny Stone (Notts County).

“It was a very good workout. We tried a few things and it was a good competitive game. I thought Cammell Laird’s were particularly strong opponents. Unfortunately Robert Taylor has pulled his hamstring, which is a great shame.” Mark Wright told the press following the game.

Saturday 19 July 2003
Chester City 0 FC Nordsjaelland 2
Attendance: 854 Half Time 0-1

Chester City [1st half]: Brown, Collins, Bolland (Hatswell 33), Ruffer, Heard, Carden, B.Davies, McIntyre, Clare, Taylor, Foster.
Chester City
[2nd half]: Brown, Collins, Hatswell, Ruffer, Brady, Carey, Harris, Twiss, Beesley, Rapley, Brodie.
FC Nordsjaelland: Hoffman, Birm, Vinzents, Marvits, Dickoh, Hindsberg, Rasmussen (Ziberi 86), Alding, Fredgaard, Tingberg (Halvyke 66), Sorenson.
Referee: C.Harwood. 

CLICK for larger pictureThe first continental opponents to run out at the Deva came in the shape of FC Nordsjaelland, UEFA Cup qualifiers from the Danish Premier League. And it was the Viking invaders who went away with the victory spoils.   

But this was only a friendly and it was more important that Chester learned some lessons, tried out a couple of formations with the new-look squad and tested a couple of triallists in Robert Taylor (from Scunthorpe and ex-Gillingham and Man City) and Jamie Heard (from Leeds United, or was it Hull City?).

The first half saw a distinctly overweight Taylor playing up front with Daryl Clare, supported by new signing from Kidderminster, Ian Foster. Red-booted triallist Heard was also doing his best to support the attack. He was the most noticeable of the new boys in the first 20 minutes, taking people on, and having a firm shot on target from 30 yards out. His determination certainly made an impression on the 854 Deva faithful.

Taylor also had an opportunity to make an instant impact when he nearly headed home from a Kevin McIntyre corner. And towards the end of the second half he found the ball at his feet with acres of space in the area. But he seemed too unfit to turn and smash the ball into the net. He’s certainly more of a target man than a twinkle-toed goalmouth player.

By then Chester were already 1-0 down. FC Nordsjaelland’s shaven-headed number 16 had two chances to put away a one-on-one against orange-shirted Wayne Brown. The first goal-bound shot was parried away by Brown, straight back to the Dane. He then had another chance to slot it away – only for brave Brown to save again. But that put Chester very much on the back foot in the box and before they'd had chance to recover, the Danes had another opportunity. This time Brownie couldn't stop the Danes finding the net, when Denis Sorensen headed home from close range.

The first half was still an encouraging performance – the only worries coming from Phil Bolland going off with an apparent strain, to be replaced by Wayne Hatswell, and Ian Foster not making as much of an impression as the other new faces. But he didn't seem to be exactly sure where he was supposed to be playing, and I’m sure will improve.

Ben Davis, complete with a spikey version of Hatswell’s haircut, did his usual best to cover the whole park, while Collins continued to prove himself a cool customer in defence. Carl Ruffer and Paul Carden, who both looked fit and raring to go for the new season, completed the first half line-up.

The second half saw the appearance of new signings Kevin Rapley and Andy Harris. Rapley was paired up front with Mark Beesley, ably supported by Steve Brodie. No-nonsense Harris seemed to slot well into the Jimmy Kelly/midfield general role.

The half had barely started when Jon Brady was tearing down the wing, proving what a transformation he’s made in recent months – from crowd boo-boy, to crowd pleaser. Brodie also put his heart-and-soul into the game. It was as if both had a point to prove.

Rapley had two near misses in the first 20 minutes, including a spectacular overhead bicycle kick. He’s shaping up to be another crowd pleaser! Beesley also saw a well-hit daisy cutter saved near the post by the excellent keeper, Jesper Hoffman, a member of the Danish international squad.

Perhaps Rapley’s best opportunity to make his mark came when everyone stopped when they thought the offside flag was about to go up. Rapley didn’t stop, but the ever alert keeper ran out and blocked his shot at close range.

Chester certainly had more second half chances than the Danes, but FC Nordsjaelland put away one of the opportunities they had. Ulrich Vinzents’ 35-yard free kick went through the Chester wall and just hit the inside of the post as Brown scrambled to reach it. For a split second, it looked like the ball would rebound out, but it ran along the line and into the goal. I didn’t see any Danish fans in the ground and it was one of the quietest celebrations I’ve seen for such a goal. Mind you, the chain-smoking coach managed to put his cigarette out to join in the team hugs!

Chester’s second half changes also included Michael Twiss, who put in a creditable performance, and Shaun Carey, whose new silver-trimmed boots made more of an impression on me than he did.

All in all, it was a promising display and the Deva pitch looked even more immaculate than usual – all credit to the ground staff. Oh, and although it was supposed to be a friendly, there were a couple of confrontations with our continental cousins. Carl Ruffer, Phil Bolland and Wayne Hatswell all squared up to their opponents at some stage. Some things never change!

Sue Choularton
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