Colwyn Bay 0 Chester City 1
| July 12
|| Bangor City
|| Fisher 48.
| July 15
|| Preston North End
|| Priest 44, Fisher 63.
| July 17
|| Stockport County
| July 19
|| Jones 45, Ratcliffe 60.
| July 21
|| Newport AFC
|| Rimmer 62, Thomas 82.
| July 23
|| Aberystwyth Town
|| Fisher 5, Bennett.
| July 25
|| Caernarfon Town
|| Thomas 6, Bennett 36, 45, McDonald
| July 29
|| West Bromwich Albion
| Aug 2
|| Leek Town
| Aug 5
|| Colwyn Bay
|| Jones (p).
City won their final pre-season game at Llaneilian Road thanks to a Jonathan
"I was really pleased with the performance", said Ratcliffe: "It
was a reserve side with a few YTS kids, none of them likely to play on Saturday
and they all did really well. If I had to pick anyone out it would be John Murphy
up front but the rest played so well it's rather unfair to single one out."
Leek Town 1 Chester City 0
Chester City: Sinclair, Jenkins, Woods, Shelton, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett
(Rimmer), Richardson, McDonald (Milner), Flitcroft, Fisher.
Referee: Paul Johnson (Stafford).
Despite having much of the ball and dominating most of the game at Harrison
Park, City lost to a goal by Dean Trott on 58 minutes. City missed four
good opportunities in the opening 20 minutes after some excellent approach
play. McDonald's header was well held by the home keeper, Bennett blasted
a drive wide, McDonald hooked another effort wide and Shelton tested the
keeper with a firm shot. The Leek side contained four ex-City players in
Neil Ellis, Don Page, Ray Newland and Craig Hawtin. Another ex-City star
was also spotted amongst the crowd Tony Loska. One notable absentee
though was manager Kevin Ratcliffe looking at another player perhaps?
Chester City 0 West Bromwich Albion 1
Chester City: Sinclair,
Davidson (Warrington 63), Jenkins, Flitcroft, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett,
Richardson (Woods 61), Rimmer (Jones 72), Milner (Murphy 80), Fisher.
West Bromwich Albion: Spink, Holmes, Nicholson, Butler, Murphy,
Raven, Caldicott, Hamilton, Peschisolido (Sneekes 60), Hunt, Kilbane (Smith
Referee: Mike Jones (Chester).
A disappointing crowd of just over 1500 saw Andy Hunt score the
only goal of the game with about 20 minutes left, a blistering shot
which gave Ronnie Sinclair no chance. Sinclair had kept City in the
game with a string of fine saves but the home side missed a golden
opportunity when Gary Bennett had a second-half spot kick saved by
Nigel Spink in the Baggies goal.
Andy Milner and Dave Flitcroft joined Nick Richardson and Neil Fisher in
midfield with Gary Bennett and Stuart Rimmer up front.
Ross Davidson was taken off by manager Kevin Ratcliffe after being told
to do so by Chester based referee Mike Jones. He had earlier had a scuffle
with Paul Peschisolido who was also replaced.
Caernarfon Town 1 Chester City 4
A brace of goals in a ten minute spell before half-time by Gary Bennett
were enough to see off Caernarfon and earn City's first win on tour against
League of Wales opposition. The home side had earlier cancelled out City's
sixth minute opener from Rod Thomas. Rod McDonald wrapped up the scoring
soon after half time.
Aberystwyth Town 3 Chester City 2
Chester City: Brown,
Davidson, Jenkins, Fisher, Bentley (Woods 83), Alsford, Bennett, Woods
(Richardson 45), Rimmer, Flitcroft, Thomas.
Chester City's losing run against League of Wales teams stretched to
three matches at Aberystwyth Town last night.
City were never ahead all night and despite a spirited final flourish they
could not find that elusive equaliser.
And the recent record must surely worry manager Kevin Ratcliffe who will
be looking for a major improvement against Caernarfon at The Oval tomorrow
The Seasiders from West Wales are not the best side in the division yet
coped extremely well all night in their first pre season run out.
Without around four first teamers Aberystwyth named Ryan Nicholls as their
new skipper and he stunned Park Avenue with a goal just a minute in to
the game after reserve keeper Wayne Brown failed to beat the striker to
But to their credit City were only behind for four minutes as a right wing
corner came out to Neil Fisher who blasted the ball home on the half volley
with a crisp finish.
That was where the goal rush ended though, as both sides settled down and
City looked the more dangerous with Rod Thomas especially prominent.
David Flitcroft went close for Chester before the Blues were stunned by
a Nicholls volley when Brown again looked hesitant at a home corner.
Again City tried to fight back straight away and Fisher, Stuart Rimmer
and Gary Bennett were all superbly denied by Aber's triallist keeper Richard
But worse was to follow for City as they were again caught cold at the
start of the second period when Gari Lewis ran through a massive defence
hole to lob the cruelly exposed Brown.
But like many Aber keepers before him the display of flying saves by Rowe
could not continue and he was at fault to let Chester back into the game.
The ever aware Bennett took a quick free kick, which caught Rowe napping,
and the keeper could only palm the ball over the line.
And from that point City were largely the stronger team although they lacked
the imagination to break down a packed Aberystwyth defence.
Rimmer, Thomas and Fisher all went close for City but they were condemned
to another defeat as The Seasiders held out for a morale boosting victory.
And Chester must now travel north to Caernarfon where they will surely
face an even sterner test where, Eifion Williams, one of the league's hottest
strikers will be a constant threat.
Newport AFC 0 Chester City 2
Chester City: Sinclair,
Davidson, Jenkins, Fisher, Woods, Alstord, Flitcroft, Richardson (Reid
72), (Jones 86), Rimmer, Milner, Thomas. Subs not used: Brown, Murphy,
The result of the game was overshadowed by the injury to Shaun Reid.
Reid appeared to turn and fall awkwardly near the end of the game, there
was no other player within yards. He damaged cruciate knee ligaments and
will be out of action for 12 months. This is the same type of injury that
fellow midfielder Nick Richardson has just made a successful recovery from.
It was a business like Chester City who paid their second visit to Wales
three days and there was no repeat of the defensive mauling suffered at
Newtown on Saturday.
City's wide men David Flitcroft and Rod Thomas made some threatening early
runs and Stuart Rimmer dragged a shot wide in the 14th minute though it
was Newport who should have taken the lead three minutes later. Julian
Alsford tripped Paul Burton inside the penalty area and though Robert Gough
struck his spot kick well enough it was too close to Ronnie Sinclair who
parried the shot. City had their hands full with Burton and his lively
strike partner David Withers and Matthew Woods found himself in a tangle
with Sinclair in the 28th minute. The Chester centre back headed the ball
past the keeper who had raced to the edge of the area to clear but though
Withers pounced he was unable to control his shot and the ball flew past
the post. Neil Fisher created an opportunity for Chester to open the scoring
in the 37th minute when his crossfield pass found Flitcroft but the winger
snatched at his effort allowing the Newport keeper Peter Mason to save
Having survived to the interval with their goal intact it was up to City
to step up a gear after the break and that was exactly what happened. A
succession of second half substitutions disrupted the home side and City
took charge in midfield. Mason performed fine saves in quick succession
to deny Andy Milner and then Rimmer on the hour but City's record scorer
was soon to open his account. Rimmer collected a pass from Thomas in the
62nd minute and his angled effort beat both Mason and Robbie Painter's
desperate attempt to stop it crossing the line. Rimmer returned the compliment
in the 82nd minute when his cross from the right presented Thomas with
an invitation which was gratefully accepted as he hammered the ball past
substi-tute keeper Paul Rowlands.
There was a sting in the tail for City, however,
when with just four minutes remaining and no opponents in the vicinity
Sean Reid twisted his knee and had to be stretchered off the field. Welsh
International team doctor Graham Jones was on duty at the stadium and his
diag-nosis indicated that the midfield player had suffered a cruciate ligament
Earlier both sides has posed for photographs with a party of Belarussian
children who had attended the game at Newport's invitation. The children
are all suffering radiation related diseases as a result of nuclear fall-out
from the Chernobyl power plant disaster in 1986 and a collection at the
ground raised £155.
Newtown 5 Chester City 2
Chester fell behind on 4 minutes and although they
staged a mini recovery were taken apart with 3 goals in 13 minuted midway
through the first half. Jonathan Jones managed to pull one back on half
time and after the break the manager decided to bring himself on, scoreing
later with a 20-yard free kick. Rod Thomas was sent off following a minor
altercation with Jason Evans. He was allowed to return and play later in
the game, when he'd cooled down no doubt. City's first booking of the season
went to goalkeeper Ronnie Sinclair for descent after a farcical incident.
He went to throw the ball out of his area but managed to throw it behind
him. He picked it up and the referee blew for a backpass. Sinclair then
booted the ball away and was promptly shown the yellow card. ITV's Teletext
report described it as "a comfortable win for the League of Wales
Chester City 2 Preston North End 1
Not a match report The Leader will do that better
but some observations.
Team: Sinclair (7) Did not really have anything
Davidson (8) Customary accomplished performance and covered for Woods
on a number of occasions.
Woods (5) Looked slow and weak in the air although promising coming forward
when given time.
Alsford (6) Reeves won most in the air but some good work.
Jenkins (8) Good performance with some good timing and ball playing.
Fisher (7) Well taken goal and looked considerably sharper than last
Flitcroft (6) Largely ineffective like latter part of last season.
Still looks overweight.
Priest (8) Caught in possession a few times but very good performance.
Scored one well taken goal and made the second. Good box to box game got
better in second half.
Thomas (7) Looked promising before going off injured. Too soon to pass
Bennett (7) Well, it is definitely the same Benno. What he lacks in skill
he makes up for in sheer energy and commitment. The Preston centre backs
did not enjoy this game! He had very little service.
Milner (6) Tried hard but little came off.
Subs: Richardson (for Thomas) (8) I must confess
to a view that Richardson gets a bad press from the fans - I have always
rated him and felt vindicated by a very good game. Some fluent touches
and good first time balls. Yes, he did give the ball away on occasions
but so does every ball player. If he can get a good run in the side I
bet he can damage teams in the final third.
Rimmer (for Davidson) (6) Ran around but hardly got a touch on the right
side of midfield.
Murphy (for Milner) (5) Very ineffective and his lethargic style was
already annoying the fans. He needs to give the appearance of trying
Overall comments: Hugely encouraging
performance with some very good football in parts. It is obviously too
early to tell very much from one game but speaking as someone who had
very mixed feelings when I heard that Benno was back I was much heartened.
I think that once he gets tuned in to the team he will do well. The midfield
looks very strong with Priest, Richardson, Reid, Shelton, Fisher, Thomas,
Flitcroft and probably Rimmer competing for places. I think there is
also ability in the forward line now with McDonald, Milner, Jones, Murphy,
and Bennett (and possibly Rimmer). It is the defence that bothers me.
The first choice line up is sound enough: Jenkins,
Alsford, Wheelan, Davidson. But with speculation rife about Jenkins (linked
today in the Echo with West Ham), Davidson out of contract and both Alsford
and Wheelan capable of injury and loss of form it looks fragile to me.
One rather bizzare thing in tonight's game was that
when Davidson went off late in the second half (precaution I think after
a knock) one would have expected Fisher to drop to right back. But no.
Richardson played there. I am still puzzled by Fisher playing on the
left when he is so clearly right footed. Together with Jenkins this does
mean a lack of balance.
Overall rating Chester 7 Preson 6
Match rating ***
PRODIGAL SON RETURNS
Chester City: Sinclair,
Davidson (Rimmer 72), Jenkins, Fisher, Woods, Alsford, Bennett,
Priest, Milner (Murphy 55), Flitcroft, Thomas
Preston North End: Moilanen, Parkinson, Barrick, Murdock, Jackson,
Rankine (Davey 82), McDonald, Ashcroft, Reeves, Nogan, Darby.
Referee: Mike Jones (Chester).
All eyes were on Chester's prodigal son Gary Bennett. Benno
is back in town and the Blues faithful are more than happy. More than 1,000
turned up to see Psycho part three last night and
as ever this predatory striker was ready to plunge the knife.
He might not have scored but he's back in the Blues' good books. The 'We
hate Wrexham' chants were already into their third chorus
when Bennett nailed his true colours to the mast.
Once a red, Bennett, is true Blue again and his £50,000 transfer
could prove a master stroker. Promotion was the big word at the Deva last
night. Talk of slashing the 16-1 odds for the Third Division title may
be a little premature.
But City showed up well in the first real outing of the season against
a well-oiled Preston side.
They went behind to a 17th minute penalty and didn't really look
in the game.
City's other summer signing, Rod Thomas, lasted only 32 minutes. The former
England U21 international had a couple of decent runs but was crocked by
Neil McDonald and worryingly limped off to the dressing room.
Thomas, playing on the left side of midfield, has the ability to go outside
or cut inside. He looks as if he will frighten third division defences
to death if
he doesn't get floored first.
He gives City an extra dimension in a side that now has a lot of competition
for places. And it was the performances of two players, whose Blues futures
are on the line, that really caught the eye.
Chris Priest, who has yet to sign a Deva deal, was singled out by manager
Kevin Ratcliffe. As was Neil Fisher, who was left out in the cold for most
of last season.
But both shone last night and both scored. Priest's crisp volley
on the turn put City back on level terms on the stroke of half-time. Fisher,
who started off in the centre and then moved to the left, hit the winner
on 63 minutes. It was Fisher's second goal in successive game.
That's a good return from someone who you could hardly describe as prolific.
Perhaps he's going to get an Eddie Bishop-type goal rush. That would be
Another big bonus for City was the return of Nick Richardson. Richardson out
for 11 months after snapping cruciate knee ligaments was back in
competitive action for the first time.
He played for almost an hour and looked impressive.
He didn't waste one pass and Richardson's return is like having another
new signing at the club.
Richardson, Fisher and Priest were City's star players who had their work
cut out against North End's experienced midfield quartet of Julian Darby,
Neil McDonald, Lee Ashcroft and Mark Rankine. Preston's front line pairing
of Kurt Nogan and David Reeves were lively but Julian Alsford was solid
as a rock at the back.
Alsford was partnered by Matt Woods at the back after regular centre half
Spencer Whelan pulled out with a knee niggle.
The City back four were caught square on too many occasions and the signing
of an experienced centre half might be the final piece in the City jigsaw.
That is is the only criticism of a more than encouraging friendly display.
Preston are confident of at least making the play-offs next season. And
when Ashcroft thumped home a 17th minute spot kick after Woods had handled
in the box, City were up against it.
Ashcroft missed a sitter five minutes later after Ronnie Sinclair had produced
a full stretch save from Kurt Nogan.
City first chance fell to Bennett but his header was off target from Dave
Flitcroft's tasty cross. City's second chance fell to Priest - and he buried
it after Andy Milner had headed down Fisher's far post centre.
Priest then returned the favour for Fisher's winner 18 minutes into the
second half. Bennett also played his part.
He enticed Colin Murdock out of position and Priest invaded the space,
skipping over the challenge of Dean Barrick before squaring the ball into
the box. John Murphy's dummy left Fisher in the clear and City's number
four made no mistake.
CHESTER SLIP UP IN FRIENDLY
Bangor City 2 Chester City 1
Graeme Sharp, Bangor City's new manager, had indicated
that he would have preferred Saturday's curtain-raiser game against Chester
City to have taken place behind closed doors.
His thinking was that this could have been a casual, disjointed affair
and certainly not a showpiece.
Since he and new assistant John Hulse are just starting to build the Farrar
Road club's squad and are still getting to know the players the
time was not ripe to show off the wares.
Sharp made a similar comment about Chester, stressing that this was the
first outing by Kevin Ratcliffe's outfit as well.
But, as events turned out, the Bangor faithful who clicked through the
Farrar Road turnstiles adding to the club's funds were greatly
encouraged by what they saw.
Bangor, as represented by players retained from last season and half-a-dozen
newcomers, acquitted themselves well, even though they were subjected to
a great deal of back-pedalling in the second half.
Host club introductions involved the two summertime signings, the twins
John and Chris Whelan from Llansantffraid, trialists Phil Owen, the Caernarfon
Town goalkeeper last season, Paul Jones, ex-Wrexham and midfielder Neil
Sang for Chorley and ex-Caernarfon.
Bangor enjoyed the advantage from the 10th minute, when Darren Pritchard
scored from 15 yards to complete a slick exchange of passes to Sang and
Marc Lloyd Williams.
Chester should have equalised on 38 minutes, when awarded a penalty, following
a foul by Chris Whelan in sending opponent Andy Milner tumbling.
But Rod Thomas's conversion attempt for the spot was well saved by Phil
Boosted by that one-goal lead, Bangor kicked off the second spell in more
enterprising fashion and an early raid produced a comforting extra goal
inside 60 seconds.
Marc Lloyd Williams was the scorer, after rushing forward in typical
style to bypass a couple of Chester defenders, before firing from
15 yards beyond 'keeper Ronnie Sinclair.
Chester were clearly rattled and their stinging reaction was to claw one
back on 48 minutes, through Neil Fisher, who slammed a glorious 20-yarder
after meeting a pass from Rod Thomas.
The remainder of the exchanges were dominaed by the full-timers from the
Deva Stadium, who mounted an incessant series of attacks, which Bangor
repulsed with some spirited defensive play.
Sharp's team were lucky once, on 73 minutes, when a measured lob from Chester's
David Flitcroft was blocked by the home crossbar.