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Saturday 29 September 2001
Stevenage Borough 2 Chester City 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,690 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Lancaster, Porter, Spink, Brown.

Stevenage Borough:
Wilkerson, Hamsher (Hay 46), Goodliffe, Dreyer, Sturgess, Sodje, McMahon, Castle, Clarke, Williams, Tate (Armstrong 73). Subs not used: Trott, Walters, Greygoose.
Chester City:
Brown, Roberts (Malkin 65), M.Rose, Porter, Lancaster, Hill, Kerr (S.Rose 76), Ruscoe, Spink, Beesley (Lopez 90), Woodyatt. Sub not used: Berocchi. [only four named].
S.Habgood (Swindon).

[Match Programme]I can't remember when I last went to a Chester match expecting a victory for the Blues. I think the dismal Trophy defeat against Canvey Island well and truly knocked those kind of thoughts out of my system. Instead I make my way to far-flung venues anticipating catching up on the latest news from the Deva and having a well-earned drink. The match result? These days it's almost incidental. And Stevenage v Chester proved to be no exception.

This particular far-flung venue was best approached after quaffing a few beers with the Exiles somewhere within the piles of concrete blocks that seem to make up Stevenage. Giles Park decided beer would not suffice – to demonstrate his support for our glorious sponsors, he somehow downed TWO bottles of Red Square as we traded banter about our new owner and the demise of Terry Smith. Then it was off into the torrential rain towards Broadhall Way.

Around fifty soaked Chester fans gathered at the ground, and pre-match talk turned from Stephen Vaughan to matters on the pitch. Would the glamorous-sounding Carlos Lopez, who'd been named as sub, live up to his name? And why were only four subs named? Where were Ruffer, Blackburn, Haarhoff and Wright?

Chester started in typical form, with Stevenage taking the upper hand straight from kick-off. They went close after just five minutes when Chris Tate headed over the bar from a free kick. And they looked certain to take the lead on the 13th minute when another Tate header was stopped with a one-handed save by Wayne Brown – who then blocked a re-bound shot.

Sam Hill was involved in slightly more action than usual – mostly mouthing at the ref after incidents that were nothing to do with him – but he did have a good chance when Mark Beesley flicked the ball to him just 12 yards from the goal-line. But Hill could only manage to blast it straight at the Stevenage 'keeper.

Just when we thought the match was going all Stevenage's way, Beesley's strike from a 37th minute Hill corner cannoned into the net off the thigh of Sam Sodje. We were glad of the goal celebrations – it gave us the chance to dry off a little.

But this really was the archetypal game of two halves. Stevenage's half-time introduction of out-of-favour striker Darren Hay was the real turning point. Just two minutes into the second half, Hay pounced from close-range when the ball pinged about in the box following a Stevenage corner. And just 12 minutes later, it was game over. Once again Hay was in the right place at the right time when Chester failed to clear a free-kick.

The Blues had no answer to Hay's second goal – Chris Malkin came on, but looked distinctly unfit. Beesley was the only player who posed a threat. But he ran his socks off and as time went on it was clear he was getting tired. Stephen Rose was introduced, but was never going to make an impact.

The players began getting distinctly rattled towards the end of the game. Spink was booked for what looked like a shoulder charge on the edge of the area. But then Brownie inexplicably decided to push the Stevenage player as he made an over-exaggerated struggle to stand up. Stevenage fans began calling for red cards for Brown and Spink – but they were both shown yellows. We did get to see Carlos Lopez when he came on as a 90th minute sub. But I'm afraid he showed no sign of any South American flair.

So once again, the best part of the day was the pre- and post-match banter. The players appeared to show where their loyalties lay when we gathered in the Stevenage bar after the game. Sam and Gordon Hill were surrounded by a handful of cronies in one corner. The rest of the team gathered in another corner. And never the twain met, or even exchanged glances. Perhaps it won't be long before we never have to set eyes on the two Hills again. I hope so.

Sue Choularton

You'd have thought a trip from Warrington to Stevenage would have been quite straightforward, if only! read travelling fan Howard Jolley's account from Saturday.

Saturday 29 September 2001
Macclesfield Town Youth 1 Chester City Youth 1
Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Brendan Nunnery, Paul Conolley, Lee Reece, Lee Sefton (Tom Coulson), Scott Bagnall, Carl Rodgers, Chris Hopwood (John Davies), James Dean (Adam Kelly), Kevin Towey, Gethin Lloyd.

The youth team drew 1-1 away to Macclesfield Town on Saturday. They went behind in the first minute, failing to deal with a long ball from the kick off with the Macclesfield striker racing clear to slot passed Louie Mackin. The remainder of the first half was fairly even affair. The second half started with Macclesfield being awarded a penalty which they dually missed. Within five minutes the scores were equal when Chris Hopwood broke clear and rounded the Macclesfield keeper. Chester then dominated the remainder of the game but failed to take several good chances.

Sunday 23 September 2001
Huddersfield Town Ladies 2 Chester City Ladies 1
Northern Combination League

The game was dominated by the Chester Ladies but, against the run of play, found themselves one down at half time after a mix up following a Huddersfield free kick on the end of the Chester penalty area.

The girls were immediately back in to their stride in the second half and on 75 minutes Leigh Broadbent, who had been supplying quality crosses in all afternoon, decided to go alone. She cut in from the right, took the ball past one defender and hit an absolute bute from 20 yards.

The final twist came when, 12 minutes from time, Annette Jones was adjudged to have tripped a Huddersfield forward as she made her way OUT of the Chester area with the ball. The resultant penalty was smashed home and although the girls continued to press for the remainder of the game, were unable to make any further impression against a team who amassed behind the ball to make it difficult to get any type of telling touch close to goal.

Although only our first defeat since 28th January, it was disappointing because Huddersfield didn't really give the girls a test.

Saturday 22 September 2001
Chester City 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 643 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Hill, Porter, Ruscoe.

Chester City:
Brown, Ruffer, Linighan (Woodyatt 88), M.Rose, Lancaster, Porter, Hill (Kilgannon 74), Blackburn, Kerr, McNiven (Ruscoe 63), Beesley. Subs not used: Roberts. S.Rose.
Dagenham & Redbridge:
Roberts, M.Smith, Vickers, Jones, Hill (Forbes 79), Broom, Janney, Terry (Brennan 46), Heffer, Stein, Shipp (Lock 50). Subs not used: Hazelden, Gothard.
S.Castle (Wolverhampton).

A loan strike from former Luton Town player Mark Stein was enough to see off City as their run without a win extended to seven games. This is Chester's sequence for years, even under the guidance of manager Terry Smith, the Blues never managed a League run this poor.

Transfer listed international 'keeper Wayne Brown was in fine form as his string of saves prevented City from a hiding. He was first called into action on five minutes when he comfortable saved from Paul Terry's weak effort from just inside the box.

It was Mark Beesley, who else, who provided City's only threat up front. He looked poised to put City ahead on 30 minutes before the timely intervention of Dagenham defender Ashley Vickers.

Brown was called upon minutes later to make a smart save from a Stein header from point blank range, and was on hand to thwart the striker minutes later when he was sent through on goal in a one-on-one. Carl Ruffer also had to be sharp to prevent the striker on the edge of the box on 40 minutes.

As the half drew to a close it was City who had two chances to break the deadlock. Both were form Mike Rose corners. Dave McNiven had a close range header blocked on the line and Beesley saw a header from six yards fly over the bar.

The Brown/Stein contest resumed after the break with the 'keeper once again coming out on top saving superbly after Stein had once again been put through on goal. Chris Blackburn, working hard in midfield, was tackled six yards out from goal as City, in a rare break, almost took the lead. It was the same old story for City, plenty of possession but no cutting edge where it matters.

Dagenham eventually got the goal they'd been threatening all afternoon on 71 minutes. Dangerman Stein intercepted a pass on the right and, after beating Mike Rose, shot low and hard past Brown.

Director of Football Gordon Hill said after the latest defeat: “I don't even look or bother about whether it's seven games without a win. Are you telling me that we couldn't get points today? We weren't beaten again today, we beat ourselves again, and that's what is frustrating me. It's not that teams come here and beat us clinically.”

Saturday 22 September 2001
Chester City Youth 1 Mansfield Town Youth 1
Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Brendan Nunnery, Paul Conolley, James Dean, Mark Howell (Sion Roberts), Scott Bagnall, Carl Rodgers, John Davies, Adam Kelly, Kevin Towey, Gethin Lloyd.

The youth team drew 1-1 at home to Mansfield Town on Saturday, coming from behind to equalise through James Dean in the first half. They had several chances in the second half, most notably a 25 yard effort from John Davies which came back of the crossbar, but could not produce a winner.

Thursday 20 September 2001
Chester City 2 Congleton Town 0
F.A. Unibond Cheshire Senior Cup Round 1
Attendance: 57

Chester City:
Bertocchi, Woodyatt, Potter, Kilgannon (Berry), S Rose, Roberts, Chamberlain, (Sefton), Kerr, Haarhoff, Hopwood (Rogers), Blackburn.
Referee: D.W.Stewart.

[Match Programme]
Goals by Chris Blackburn and Jimmy Haarhoff give City a first round victory over Congleton in a match watched by just 57 people.

Saturday 15 September 2001
Marine Youth 3 Chester City Youth 3 (AET) [City lost 4-3 on penalties]
FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round 2

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Adam Hunter, Paul Conolley, John Davies, James Dean, Tom Coulson (Tom Leonard), Scott Bagnall, Sion Griffiths, Lee Reece (Sion Roberts), Kevin Towey, Gethin Lloyd.

[FA Youth Cup]The youth team failed to progress to the next round of the FA Youth Cup losing in a penalty shoot out away at Marine. Despite taking a tenth minute lead through Gethin Lloyd and dominating the game for an hour they failed to take a number of chances. The line up then had to be reorganised to cater for injured players and Marine took advantage, equalising on 75 minutes. Chester restored their lead five minutes later when Kevin Towey converted a spot kick after James Dean had been felled in the penalty area. Marine cruelly equalised in the 90th minute and took the lead in the first half of extra time. Chester equalised in the second extra period through Gethin Lloyd but lost out 4-3 in the penalty shoot out.

Tuesday 18 September 2001
Leigh RMI 3 Chester City 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 547 Half Time: 2-0
Booked: Linighan.

Leigh RMI:
Westhead, Spooner, German, Scott, Durkin, Salt (Kielty 75), Fisher, Twiss (Heald 78), Skinner (Hayder 55), Monk, Hallows. Sub not used: Archer, Felgate.
Chester City:
Brown, Ruffer, M.Rose, Linighan, Lancaster, Porter, Hill, Blackburn (Kilgannon 53), Ruscoe, McNiven (Roberts 72), Beesley. Subs not used: Kerr, Hopwood, S.Rose.
A.Hogg (Dronfield).

[Match Programme]Leigh RMI cruised to their first home win of the season, despite being without five regulars, againat a disjointed and dispirited City side. With eight of the senior Blues players being told before the match that they were being put on the transfer list to cut costs it's hardly surprising they turned in a shambolic performance.

Scott Ruscoe returned from suspension and there was also a place in midfield for out-of-favour Chris Blackburn. Both new signings of last week David Linighan and David McNiven also started.

City had the better of the opening period and created the first chance of the game as Sam Hill's fourth minute strike was turned round the post by the home 'keeper Mark Westhead, and minutes later the lively McNiven was almost set up on goal by a waywayd back pass.

City fell behind midway through the opening period. Leigh forward, and man-of-the-match, Michael Twiss' electrifying pace left City's defence standing as he latched onto a through ball from 'keeper Westhead, outpaced Carl Ruffer, and shot low and hard past the advancing Wayne Brown.

A superb diagonal through ball by McNiven set up Ruscoe but he drove his shot wide from 18 yards out.

Former City player Neil Fisher set up the second for Twiss minutes before the break. Twiss collected his pass, beat Ruffer again and blasted the ball into the roof of the net from ten yards.

Ruscoe again had a chance to score just after the restart but his close range shot was palmed away.

Leigh sealed victory five minutes later as Hallows shot home after Hill and Martyn Lancaster had been outpaced by dangerman Twiss.

Chester forced several corners and both Ruscor and Porter forced saves but, in truth, it was the home side who missed the better chances in the closing period.

City fans vented their nager of manager Gordon Hill as the Blues have now taken only three points fom a possible 18 in September and slumped to 17th in the Conference.

“Very very sad, possibly the poorest Chester performance I've ever seen” – Neil Turner.

Saturday 15 September 2001
Chester City 1 Boston United 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 821 Half Time: 0-1
Booked: Hill, Kilgannon, Lancaster, Beesley.

Chester City:
Brown, Ruffer, Linighan, M.Rose, Porter (Blackburn 74), Hill, Kilgannon, Lancaster, McNiven, Beesley, Spink (S.Rose 68). Subs not used: Roberts, Kerr, Hopwood.
Boston United:
Bastock, Ellinder, Lodge, R.Weatherstone, Monington, Costello, Marsh, Brown (Cook 90), Charlerey (Town 87), Clare (Murphy 65), S.Weatherstone. Subs not used: Conroy, Gould.
S.Castle (Wolverhampton).

City's poor September run continued as they were beaten by a Mike Marsh second half strike to take visitors Boston United to the top of the table.

There was no Scott Ruscoe for City as the midfielder was serving a one match ban following his red card at Barnet, Gordon Hill did however give debuts to new signings David Linighan and David McNiven. Chris Blackburn was recalled to the substitutes bench as manager Hill dropped Jimmy Haarhoff and Lee Woodyatt.

It was The Pilgrims who started brightly and had their first chance of the match on ten minutes when Simon Wetherstone's corner was headed over by Daryl Clare at the far post.

Mick Brown on the United right was always a threat as debutant Linighan, playing at left back, struggled to keep up with the pace.

Boston took the lead on 23 minutes. Once again Brown's pace down the right proved too much for Linighan and his cross was allowed to run right through the box before being converted at the back post by Wetherstone.

City fought back and created a great chance to equalise as McNiven, having a promising debut, headed straight at 'keeper Bastock when well placed following fine build-up work by Ruffer and Spink.

Boston should have increased their lead on 33 minutes as Clare headed over from six yards and soon after Mark Monnington had a goal ruled out for offside.

Following the break Wes Kilgannon's through ball set up Andy Porter but the chance went begging, then Ken Charlery (who always seems to score against us) shot wide after being put through on a one-on-one with Wayne Brown.

City's leading scorer Mark Beesley levelled after 60 minutes. Once again it was McNiven who provided the through ball as Beesley's hard shot was too hot for Bastock. Minutes later McNiven set up Beesley again but the striker's header was off target from six yards.

Twenty minutes from time Mike Marsh hit what proved to be the winner. City's defence failed to properly clear a corner and the ball fell invitingly for Marsh to shoot home through a crowded goalmouth past the unsighted Wayne Brown.

Brown denied Andy Lodge twice shortly after to keep City in the hunt, and misses from McNiven and Beesley in the closing minutes were to prove costly as the Blues slumped to another defeat.

Saturday 15 September 2001
Lincoln City Youth 2 Chester City Youth 0
Football League Youth Alliance

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Tom Coulson (Otis Thomas), Paul Conolley, Gethin Lloyd, Lee Reece, Scott Bagnall, John Davies (Levi Kennedy), Carl Rodgers, Mark Howell, Kevin Towey, Lee Sefton.

The youth team under performed at the weekend going down 2-0 at Lincoln City. With no score at half time they found themselves behind within five minutes of the re-start after failing to prepare for a quick Lincoln free kick. The second goal was conceded five minutes from time.

Tuesday 11 September 2001
Chester City 0 Stalybridge Celtic 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 695 Half Time: 0-0
Booked: Hill, Roberts.

Chester City:
Brown, S.Rose (Haarhoff 70), M.Rose, Ruffer, Porter, Lancaster, Hill (Roberts 70), Kilgannon, Ruscoe, M.Beesley. Spink. Subs not used: Wright, Kerr, Rogers.
Stalybridge Celtic:
Fish, Woods, Scott, Crookes (Williamson 46), Futcher, Bushell, Parr (Batty 86), Woods, Murphy, Courtney, Peacock (Perkins 90). Subs not used: Barker, Lee.
R.Atkinson (Leeds).

City and Stalybridge produced a scrappy game that was described by radio Merseyside's Neil Turner as “A turgid affair no side deserved to win”. It's four games without a win now and Chester would have been expecting to beat a struggling part-time Celtic side managed by former Chester player Paul Futcher.

Only 695 fans turned up at the Deva leaving the club with an average home gate after four attendances of just 703 compared to 2,366 at the same stage last season.

Those who did turn up will have seen the visitors almost grab an opening goal on six minutes. Richard Peacock brought the ball down on the edge of the area and his curling left foot shot that followed left Wayne Brown rooted to the spot as it hit the post.

It was 12 minutes before City's first effort of note when Scott Ruscoe volleyed wide following a Michael Rose cross.

Chester almost took the lead on 20 minutes when fine interplay between Spink and Beesley set up the latter whose shot from six yards was superbly saved by keeper Dave Fish, the resulting goalline scramble saw the ball cleared by Mattie Woods and Andy Scott for a corner. Carl Ruffer headed the resulting flag kick just over the bar.

In the dying minutes of the half Andy Porter missed two chances to break the deadlock, first he had a shot blocked on the edge of the box and then he volleyed high and wide from inside the box after being set up by Dean Spink.

City produced no great chances of note following the break and it was Stalybridge who should have wrapped things up with just five minutes remaining. An under-bit back pass from Paul Roberts set up Matt Williamson but Wayne Brown moved smartly to deny the visitors a goal.

Before the kick-off a minute's silence was held in memory of those killed in America earlier in the day.

Sunday 9 September 2001
Chester-le-Street Ladies 1 Chester City Ladies 1
Northern Combination League

After sustaining some early pressure the girls settled and opened the scoring half way through the first half.

After receiving the ball in midfield, Michelle Hounslow travelled 15 yards before releasing Michelle Brady who was also able to carve through the home teams midfield before slipping a through ball between the home defence. Clare Reynolds latched on to the ball before placing a well waited and accurate shot into the goal.

It was a second half mix up that led to the equaliser. Jo Reynolds, providing some speedy cover back toward her own goal, over ran the ball, leaving it behind on the edge of the Chester area. Laura Edwards running out from her six yard box, was unable to get both hands on the loose ball on the ground. This presented a Chester-Le-Street striker with an easy chance which she placed coolly between the Chester defenders who had amassed on the goal line!

The coaching staff and players alike were a little disappointed as the statistics of the match showed just how much on top we really were! Chester-Le-Street only managed four shots on target all game whilst the Chester girls created 12 shots which all needed saving. Even more frustrating when five were 'one on one's' with the goalkeeper – a frustrating time for all.

But, whilst still on the subject of statistics, you have to go back to January 28th to get to a league or cup match that Chester City Ladies were defeated, so things must be still be shaping up pretty well.

We'll be airing the blue and white stripped strip again this Sunday when the girls entertain Bradford City at County Officers Recreation Centre in Upton – 14:00hrs kick-off.

Saturday 8 September 2001
Chester City Youth 1 Port Vale Youth 1
Youth Alliance Cup (Group stage)

Chester City:
Louie Mackin, Tom Coulson, Paul Conolley, Gethin Lloyd, Lee Reece (Tom Leonard), Scott Bagnall (Adam Hunter), John Davies, Carl Rodgers, Kevin Towey, Otis Thomas (Mark Howell), Lee Sefton.

The youth team gained a creditable draw at home to Port Vale on Saturday in the Youth Alliance Cup. The squad was decimated with injury during the week and Centre of Excellence U16s had to be called up. They took the lead on 80 minutes when a deep right wing cross from Scott Bagnall went in off the far post, only for Port Vale to equalise two minutes later. They now face Shrewsbury Town and Walsall in their remaining group matches.

Saturday 8 September 2001
Farnborough Town 1 Chester City 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 954 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Spink, Kilgannon.

Farnborough Town:
Farrelly, Annon, Laker, O'Shea, Warner, Watson, Piper (Taggart 76), Patterson, Vansittart, Crawshaw (Lee 62), Piper. Subs not used: Harper, Bonfield, Jones.
Chester City:
Brown, Woodyatt (Roberts 60), M.Rose, Ruffer, Ruscoe, Porter, Lancaster, Hill (Haarhoff 46), Kerr (Kilgannon 79), M.Beesley, Spink. Subs not used: S.Rose, Wright.
M.McCoy (Hearne Bay).

[Match Programme]About 60 Blues fans made the trip to Cherrywood Road, and those who stayed to the bitter end saw a last gasp equaliser from Mark Beesley salvage a point for City they hardly deserved.

It was part-time Farnborough doing all the early running and they created the best of the chances throughout the game. They took the lead on six minutes when Steve Watson's cross found it's way to Lenny Piper via an awful Dean Spink back pass, Piper shot high in the net from close range giving Wayne Brown no chance.

City were anonymous in midfield where Watson and Patterson were running the show for the home side. City did manage a couple of efforts from long range and both Martyn Lancaster and Scott Ruscoe saw shots well saved by former City keeper Steve Farrelly.

The home side will be kicking themselves for not finishing off the Blues after missing numerous chances the most astonishing miss coming on the stroke of half time. Chris Piper was put through on the right and his cross shot was parried by Wayne Brown into the bath on the onrushing, and unmarked, Joff Vansittart who from six yards out and in front of the gaping goal somehow managed to side-foot the ball wide.

City replaced Sam Hill with Jimmy Haarhoff at the break and his pace began to cause one or two problems for the home defence but it was still the home side that created the better chances, Christian Lee shooting wide from one of the best.

Both Wes Kilgannon and Paul Roberts were thrown on as City looked to rescue something and in injury time they got the break. Jimmy Haarhoff robbed Darren Annon on the half-way line and jinked his way into the box on the right, as he was about to shoot he inexplicably trod on the ball and fell over, he managed to pull the ball back for Beesley who shot low into the corner from inside the box.

Seconds later and Beesley almost grabbed a winner but his low hard shot was well saved low down by Farrelly.
Tuesday 4 September 2001
Chester City 2 Telford United 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 605 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Porter, Kerr.

Chester City:
Brown, S.Rose, Ruffer, Ruscoe, Porter, Lancaster, Hill (Wright 73), Kerr, Woodyatt, M.Beesley, Spink. Subs not used: Haarhoff, Blackburn, Potter, Berocchi.
Telford United:
Price, Davies, Hanmer, Moore, Albrighton, Fowler, Scott, Jobling, Palmer, Quayle, J.Edwards. Subs not used: Edwards, Fitzpatrick, Crowe, Preece, King.
S.Brand (Wirral).

[Match Programme]City's lowest crowd since the 1920s, just 605, saw the Blues throw away a two goal advantage as visitors Telford United came from behind to share the points.

Defender Michael Rose was suspended following his red card at Southport, young Lee Woodyatt filled in at left back and Carl Ruffer returned to the centre of defence as City started with a 4-4-2 formation.

The first chance of the night fell to Dean Spink who headed just wide following an interchange between Woodyatt and Hill.

Just two minutes later though Spink set City on their way with the opening goal. Goalkeeper Price was unable to hold Mark Beesley's shot from 15 yards and Spink was on hand to steer the ball home.

United's only real threat up until the goal had been a free kick on 13 minutes from Gareth Hanmer. However the visitors missed a great opportunity to draw level on the stroke of half time when Mark Albrighton sent a back post header into the side netting.

Keeper Wayne Brown almost gifted an equaliser minutes after the restart. His weak clearance fell straight to Richard Scott who immediately tried his luck from 40 yards only to see a back-peddling Brown save.

Chester extended their lead on 61 minutes. Scott Ruscoe was on hand at the far post to hammer home the second after good approach work by Beesley and Spink.

The two goal cushion didn't last long though as Kevin Davies headed home from a Quayle cross just three minutes later to make it 2-1.

Telford has several great opportunities to level but failed to take any before Ruscoe almost added a third on 85 minutes as his goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by by Fowler.

With just four minutes on the clock the Shropshire side scored their second as Edwards blasted the ball home from six yards at the second attempt following a close range save from Brown.

Saturday 1 September 2001
Barnet 3 Chester City 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,197 Half Time: 1-0
Booked: Brown, Kerr, Ruscoe. Sent Off: Ruscoe.

Harrison, Goodhind, Heald, Arber, Gledhill (Sawyers 61), Bell (Doolan 69), Niven, Gower, Toms (Flynn 84), Stevens, Midgley. Subs not used: Nesbitt, Taylor.
Chester City:
Brown, S.Rose, M.Rose, Spink (Woodyatt 78), Lancaster, Porter, Hill (Wright 84), Kerr, Haarhoff (Hopwood 62), Ruscoe, M.Beesley. Sub not used: Roberts.
L.Proben (Bridgwater).

[Match Programme]The vagaries of the transport system formerly known as British Rail continue to hamper the plans of travelling football supporters. A late arrival at Euston meant a dash along the road to Kings Cross. Steve Mansley hurdled the barriers and was first to the ticket office but the queue was a mile long. At the last gasp a ticket was bought from an inspector at the end of the platform and the twelve minutes past twelve train to New Barnet was boarded, Howard's boot keeping the doors open until the stragglers had made it. Barrovian, and honorary Chester fan, Dave Leitch was left stranded as he dutifully waited to meet APJ at the agreed point. Little did he know that Alan had already nipped on the train.

Dave caught up with us at the Red Lion on the corner of Underhill. There, travelling Cestrians traded latest rumours and reactions to another announcement that the club has been sold. General consensus was that it was probably a ploy to encourage more people to attend the Deva next Tuesday.

A last minute change of policy to charge away fans £10 and not £12 (With compulsory programme included) went unnoticed by a clutch of Chester fans who went in the home end instead. We met Marc Ashfield selling programmes. Two years ago he was busy organising a petition to get planning permission for Barnet's ground move approved. Barnet were then top of the Third Division and we were struggling under Terry's managerial fling. Now we met in the Conference with Barnet's move still uncertain but with a proposed site next door in the local park gaining the approval of most of their fans.

Both sides have made a moderate start to the new season. Barnet came out with a point to prove and came at Chester strongly down the hill. Star man Gower gave Mike Rose a torrid time at left back and forced him to concede a penalty. Brown, though saved the kick superbly. Barnet threatened again and had the ball in the net this time but the linesmans's flag had already been raised. Gradually Chester worked their way back into the game. Sam Hill pulled a shot well wide form the edge of the area. Kerr put a header wide when it looked easier to score. Beasley looked a threat up front and Jimmy Haarhoff got through a lot of work fetching and carrying. Just as it looked like City would make it to half time unscathed, Kerr was mugged in midfield enabling Gower to exchange a one-two with Midgley and skip through to place the ball past the oncoming Brown.

City weathered another storm from Barnet as they came forward after half time. Brown made another brilliant full stretch save from a shot he could not have seen until late. Sam Hill had been increasingly ineffective as the second half wore on but surprisingly it was Haarhoff who was replaced on 62 minutes by Chris Hopwood. Surprising because Jimmy had just gone very close to scoring with a lovely chip which had the backpedalling Harrison beaten all ends up.

Still, six minutes later City were level thanks to a fine piece of work by Mark Beasley. He picked up the loose ball outside the area, threaded past a couple of defenders and fired home sweetly. A couple of minutes later Hopwood had a chance to put the blues (City wearing their unfamiliar combination of Oxford and Cambridge blues) ahead, but his shot went across the face of the goal and wide.

An innocuous challenge by Hill was penalised down City's right though it looked like only a throw had been given. From the resulting free kick, Lancaster allowed Midgely to get on the wrong side of him and get a shot in. Brown could only half stop it and the ball trickled up the hill and into the net. A soft goal when it looked like City should get at least a point.

Worse followed when Ruscoe was adjudged to have dived in the penalty area and was sent off for a second bookable offence. He can have few complaints. A tired looking Spink had been replaced by Lee Woodyatt (Another one who now sports a skinhead) and Darren Wright at last came on to take over from Hill who had gone down twice with injuries and seemed to be pleading to be withdrawn.

Stevens scored a third in the dying minutes. Claims for offside were overruled by the referee who pointed to Mike Rose as the one who had played him on.

Beasley, Brown and Kerr gave the travelling fans (I counted eighty of them) an appreciative wave and applause. Back at Birmingham New Street I had seen the engine "Spirit of Chester" – not in the sidings exactly but certainly going nowhere. Although City could not be faulted for effort, they could not complain at the scoreline and certainly seem to be going nowhere themselves at the moment.

Back at Euston's "Head of Steam", eighteen of the Exiles regrouped to watch that other football match in Munich. I had to leave for another convoluted rail journey, just after half time. Last I heard, a lad born in Chester was doing quite well – Owen, I think his name is.

Colin Mansley
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The squad building continues as Chester announce the signing of 25-year-old forward Dan Turner from Brackley Town.
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Everything you need to know about the club’s history, honours, records and kits. Complete list of fixtures from 1885 and much more.
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The Exiles have set up a blog to provide away match information and articles for Blues fans living away from Chester. You can read it here
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