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Saturday 27 September 2003
Chester City 0 Telford United 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,688 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Harris.

Chester City: Brown, Collins, Bolland, Ruffer, McIntyre, Carden, Davies, Harris, Brady (Twiss 68), Stamp (Rapley 74), Foster (Clare 75). Subs not used: Carey, Guyett.
Telford United: MacKenzie, Clarke, Howarth, Whitehead, Challis, Ricketts, Simpson, Green, Lavery, Mills, Naylor (Blackwood 46 (Murphy 64)). Subs not used: Williams, Rowe, Taylor.
Referee: G.Turner (Chesterfield).

CLICK for larger pictureCity fans will have left this game frustrated that the Blues couldn’t break down a side reduced to ten men just before the half-time break. Some credit must go to the visitors though who were complemented by Mark Wright after the game who said: “They defended better that anyone we have played so far this season.”

The Blues were looking for their seventh Conference win on the run and welcomed back Wayne Brown in goal and Daryl Clare to the bench.

The early play was with City. Darryn Stamp headed wide from a Kevin McIntyre corner after just three minutes, and five minutes later did the same after a McIntyre free-kick had been swung in. Chris MacKenzie in the Telford goal was also soon in the action saving twice from Ben Davies. The keeper would prove to be a thorn in City’s side all afternoon though with the Blues content to pump the ball in the air they certainly didn’t help themselves. On the rare occasion when McKenzie was beaten, experienced defender Scott Green seemed on hand to clear things up.

On the half hour the keeper was in action again this time saving from a 30 yarder from Paul Carden. The Blues weren’t having it all their own way though. Sam Ricketts and Lee Mills were combining well for the visitors and Wayne Brown had t be alert to save at the foot of his post from the former. Ex-Port Vale, Crewe and Cheltenham striker Tony Naylor, making his Bucks debut also forced Brown into a couple of saves before the visitors were reduced to ten men on the stroke of half-time as Richard Lavery was given a straight red card for a challenge on McIntyre.

After the break, despite dominating for long periods, City found the visitors hard to break down. Michael Twiss replaced Jon Brady but it was Paul Carden who came closest to breaking the deadlock with a 20-yarder that MacKenzie tipped round the post. With 15 minutes remaining, Ian Foster gave way as Daryl Clare was introduced for his first game of the season at the same time Kevin Rapley replaced Darryn Stamp. Last season's top scorer Clare managed a couple of efforts just wide.

The last minute brought one final assault on goal as Clare and Davies combined well but were denied by Green once again who fought back to tackle. There was just time for Andy Harris to pick up his third booking of the season for unsporting behaviour.

So, four wins and a draw from September may be enough to gain Mark Wright the Conference Manager of the Month award, though Barnet boss Martin Allen, with an identical record, including three away from home, may just take it.
Tuesday 23 September 2003
Chester City 4 Northwich Victoria 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,817 Half Time 1-0
Booked: None.

Chester City: McCaldon, Ruffer, Harris, Bolland, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Brady (Rapley 70), Foster (Twiss 70), Stamp, Carden. Subs not used: Heard, Guyett, Carey.
Northwich Victoria: Woods, Barnard, Royle, Charnock, Brazier, Devlin, Blackburn (Norris 55), Garvey, Thompson (Ward 73), Allan (Owen 70), Ross. Subs not used: Black, Connett.
Referee: R.Pollock.

CLICK for larger pictureIn the end City overpowered their near neighbours and bogeymen of recent years but for forty-five minutes Northwich played the better football. Chester found it hard to get to grips with a hard-working and lively Vics side who passed the ball around well in midfield even if their scoring opportunites were limited by the usual robust City defence. McCaldon was nevertheless called upon to make a couple of saves – one from a direct free kick and to punch clear a dangerous cross.

Stamp had the ball in the Northwich net early on but it was ruled out for offside. When City did manage to threaten, the visitors defence looked shaky and Woods, in goal, nervous. Twice he fumbled shots from Davies and Foster but no-one was able to take advantage.

The home crowds frustrations at Chester’s stuttering performance were taken out on an increasingly eccentric referee who seemed to miss obvious infringements and penalise petty ones. But three minutes before the break one of his assistants helped award City a free kick on the right as Brady was impeded. From the free kick Collins glanced in the opening goal. Though they hardly deserved it on the run of play, City nearly went in to half time two up. McIntyre’s cross from the right just eluded Stamp’s lunge.

In the second half City proved too strong. Stamp’s perfectly weighted pass split the Vics defence and Carden just beat Foster to the ball and tucked it past Woods for 2-0.

Knowing City had blown a similar lead against these opponents last season, their fans still could not relax. But when Foster crowned another glowing performance with an exquisite goal we began to hope for at least a point. Latching on to McIntyre’s probing ball, Foster from the left hand edge of the penalty area curled a venomous shot past his marker and beyond Woods’ full stretch dive.

Soon Foster was substituted to a standing ovation and on came Twiss and Rapley to make mayhem. City finished well on top and Rapley ran through to score with an awesome finish in to the far top corner of the net having lost his marker with a brilliant turn. For seven minutes or so City were top of the Conference until Hereford's late winner, but if Chester continue how they finished last night then they will be very hard to keep up with.

Colin Mansley

Saturday 20 September 2003
Farnborough Town 1 Chester City 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 728 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Carden, Davies.

Farnborough Town: Packham, Ifura, Opinel, Burton, Wetherstone, Beall, Hodgson, Hutchings, Clarke (Fashanu 46), Charlery (Belgrave 55), Chaaban (Thompson 76). Subs not used: Osborn, Hayes.
Chester City:
Brown, Ruffer, Harris, Bolland, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Brady, Foster (Rapley 82), Stamp, Carden. Subs not used: Guyett, Carey, McCaldon, Twiss.
Referee: S.Rubery (Ilford).

CLICK for larger pictureThe Blues go joint top as Darryn Stamp scores a brace to give City their fifth win on the trot for the first time since 1977/78 at a baking hot Cherrywood Road. Manager Mark Wright made one change from Saturday’s side, introducing Carl Ruffer for the transfer listed Wayne Hatswell. Scott Guyett also made the bench after recovering from an injury that has kept him out all season.

Stamp will make the headlines with his goal, but once again there was a tireless performance from Ian Foster throughout, culminating in some great play to set-up the second, and decisive goal.

The home side had the first chance of the game in the opening minutes, forcing a corner and seeing a close range header ail over the bar. The Blues had their first opening a few minutes later which saw Jon Brady head wide from 18 yards.

Ian Foster had City’s next chance though the striker, who is yet to open his account with the Blues, shot agonisingly just wide after being put through by Brady. Farnborough went close on 25 minutes as the Blues defence backed off Clark who weaved his way towards goal before shooting wide of the right hand post.

On 34 minutes City opened the scoring. A foul by Burton on Ben Davies gave Kevin McIntyre the chance to cross. His first effort from the free-kick was charged down but he had a second bite and sent in a header to the unmarked Stamp who headed into the top corner from close range.

The Blues went into the break one up but two minutes after the restart they were on level terms. Some sloppy defending allowed Ken Charlery to set up Andre Fashanu (on loan from Reading) with a free volley on goal that he took unchallenged.

Three bookings followed in quick succession. Ross Wetherstone and Richard Hodgson for Boro and Paul Carden for City. Danny Collins and Phil Bolland had to clear for City as the home side gained in confidence from their goal, but it was the Blues to scored next on sixty minutes.

Foster cut down the left flank and appeared to have lost the ball in a tackle on the edge of the box, he won it back however cleverly turned and sent in a pinpoint cross to the head of the stooping Stamp who made no mistake from six yards to the delight of the City fans behind the goal.

The only real action of note after that came on 75 minutes when Wetherstone was given a red card following a heavy challenge on Paul Carden. Kevin Rapley replaced Foster for the final eight minutes as the Blues looked to shut out a Farnborough side still looking for their first win of the season.

Helping hand for Paul Carden
City celebrate    
Jamie Heard watches a Jon Brady corner    

Wednesday 17 September 2003
Chester City Youth 1 Darlington College Youth 2
FA Youth Cup second qualifying round
Attendance: 60 Half Time 1-1
Booked: None.

Chester City: Brookfield, D.Jones, Lathom, Hunter (Edwards 32), Cook, McLaughlin (Robbins 32), Selkeld, D.Ventre, Pennell, Leonard, Angiletta (K.Jones 82). Sub not used: Owen.

The Chester youngsters were eliminated from the Youth Cup by a strong College side who clearly benefited from their full time training. Chester took the lead after 18 minutes when James Selkeld was brought down and Ian Lathom scored from the spot. They almost extended the lead when David Pennell shot narrowly wide after a good run. Darlington College equalized on the stroke of half time when the City youngsters failed to clear a free kick and the ball was scrambled home. In the second half the College gradually took control of the game and scored the winner after 74 minutes when the City youngsters were caught out playing the offside trap. Chester had a chance to equalize when Tom Leonard volleyed over a Pennell cross but the bigger College side held on for a victory they probably deserved on the balance of play.

Tuesday 16 September 2003
Congleton Town 5 Chester City 4
Cheshire Senior Cup round 1
Attendance: 161 Half Time 1-1
Booked: None.

Congleton Town:Conkie, Pitts, Rudkin, Kay, Reilly, Owen, Tunnicliffe, Fletcher, Worthington, Scully, Williams. Subs: Tate, Jones, Naylor.
Chester City:
McCaldon. J.Davis, Ruffer, Carey, Guyett, Dogun (Buckley 30), Heard, Leonard, Rapley, Twiss, Moore. Subs not used: D.Ventre, Byers.

City were dumped out of the Cup after conceding three goals in the final three minutes.

Chester, fielding several first-teamers, had the better of the opening exchanges with ex-City keeper Matt Conkie saving well from a Ruffer header on 15 minutes. From the resulting corner Scott Guyett saw a header cleared off the line resulting in a goalmouth scramble that City couldn’t take advantage of. Against the run of play the home side took the lead with a well worked goal on 32 minutes from former Chester youth player Scott Williams. Congleton grew in confidence from this but City levelled on 38 minutes. A long ball down field was chased by Twiss who lobbed the advancing Conkie. On the stroke of half-time a mistake by Davies almost let the home side in but the chance went begging.

Dean Buckley gave City a 2-1 lead on 48 minutes after turning home a cross from the right from close range. Eight minutes later City extended their lead when Michael Twiss scored his second goal of the night following a through ball from Kevin Rapley.

With ten minutes remaining Kay caught McCaldon asleep in the City goal with a quickly taken free-kick to reduce the scoreline to 3-2. The Blues looked to be heading to the second round though two minutes later as Kevin Rapley shot low and hard to restore City’s two goal advantage.

McCaldon was at fault again three minutes from time as his clearance went straight to a Congleton player, he passed to Jones who promptly scored. On 89 minutes Riley scored a scrambled goal and City’s defensive nightmare was completed in the final minute as Worthington scored the winner from close range.

1-0 Williams (Congleton) 32 mins
1-1 Twiss (38 mins)
1-2 Buckley (48 mins)
1-3 Twiss (56 mins)
2-3 Kay (Congleton) 80 mins
2-4 Rapley 82 mins
3-4 Jones (Congleton) 88 mins
4-4 Reilly (Congleton) 89 mins
5-4 Worthington (Congleton) 90 mins

So, City somehow contrive to throw away a 4-2 lead with three minutes remaining. I feel a quiz question coming on!
Saturday 13 September 2003
Chester City 2 Halifax Town 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,628 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Harris.

Chester City: Brown, Collins, Bolland, Hatswell, Davies, McIntyre, Harris, Carden, Brady, Foster (Rapley 82), Stamp. Subs not used: Carey, McCaldon, Twiss, Ruffer.
Halifax Town: Davies, Sandwith, Hockenhull (Quinn 63), Garnett, Monington, Cullen (Parke 63), Elam, Midgley, Bushell, Lee (Mallon 63), Killeen. Subs not used: Hudson, McAuley.
D.Foster (Newcastle).

CLICK for bigger imageA goal in each half was enough to secure three points with a solid and in the end comfortable win in a game with enough half chances to keep interest to the final whistle.   

The game began with supporters basking in an afternoon of splendid sunshine with City kicking into their customary visiting end populated with what was a modest total of away fans considering the short journey.

At the back for Chester, Collins, Hatswell and Bolland stood in line supporting a busy midfield which included Harris, Davies and Carden while Stamp and Foster took the lead in attack. McIntyre who when not defending, penetrated down the left wing, while on the right – and a few other places – was Brady who ran tirelessly throughout. As early as the fourth minute, he gave warning by whipping in a cross from the right which was inches too high for Hatswell who had done well to escape his marker.

Ten minutes later and it was Brady again. Making the best of escaping from a tight position in the corner, he powered in a low cross which Stamp reading well met but under pressure stuck high. And so it continued, until the first goal with Chester superior and looking the more likely to score.

On nineteen minutes, Stamp played a one two with Foster whose shot resulted in a corner. From the ensuing kick Halifax cleared but only as far as McIntyre. His long and high centre dropped over the defence perfectly to Hatswell who connected with a met volley burying the ball into the bottom right of the goal.

Briefly Chester looked as though they would bag a quick second. Bolland broke from his marker to head over from another Brady cross and Foster and Stamp both threatened to breach a defence that was beginning to back-peddle.

It was a surprise then that for the last fifteen minutes of the half Halifax had what was probably their best period of the game. Elan, who ran hard and straight throughout, collected the ball in space and taking it square across the box beating two defenders on the way kicked high with a clear sight of goal. Shortly afterwards, Shaun Garnett unchallenged headed straight at Brown and on forty minutes, Midgely missed what was probably the clearest opportunity when he was allowed to run unchecked in to the box goal forcing Brown to get down quickly to his right. While it was their best period, these were not gilt-edged chances and better strikers on the day were need to prise open a defence that has now conceded just four goals in eight matches.

The second half was similar to the first. Darren Stamp continued to impress with some nice touches and sensible distribution. Foster battled courageously winning far more balls than he ought to and Brady looked a sharper, fitter and penetrative player than at any time last season.

On fifty one minutes, Foster received the ball on the far right square to the edge of the area. Looking up he delivered and inch perfect ball to Stamp. Rising high and hanging in the air, he planted a powerful header down to the goalkeeper’s left which although parried but could not prevent from crossing the line. It was a classic ‘big centre-forwards’ header reminiscent for those that remember, of Ian Edwards of the late 1970s. And although the cross was overly ambitious, it was just reward for Foster who had partnered Stamp effectively all afternoon.

A minute later it was nearly three. Foster, this time stealing in from the right wing, received the ball in the centre. Unmarked he advanced into the area and moving forward with only the goalkeeper to beat saw his shot well parried. In the confusion that followed Brady crept in and whipped in a shot with his left foot inches over the bar at an almost impossible angle.

There was little now to encourage Halifax. Chester looked rampant and without doing any special, opened up the defence with some neat one touch football. Carden, who was having one of his more quieter games, burst through into the box and surprised everyone with a shot cum shot which Stamp could only divert on to the left post. Moments later Foster, in what was the pick that followed, turned in a crowded box to drive a curling shot on to the outside of the right upright.

In the final ten minutes, Foster was replaced by Ripley and Halifax, who to give credit did not capitulate as had once looked, had a couple of half chances of their own.

Chester who were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the dying minutes when Stamp was held continued relatively untroubled.

All in all it was a good team performance. The defence stood strong and tall and there was enough pluck and energy in midfield to deny Halifax any chance to assert any authority on the game. Darren Stamp was excellent but my vote on the day goes to Ian Foster who is making himself very popular with the home fans. Fans leaving the game were talking about the many near misses and in truth it could have been five but the scoreline was about right and anything more would have flattered.

Better teams that Halifax will come away with nothing and you couldn’t help thinking that Chester are still holding something in reserve. Let us hope it is against Hereford that we see this. Guyett and Clare are expected back by then and City will need to be at their very best.

Tim Savidge
Saturday 6 September 2003
Margate 1 Chester City 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 634 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Bolland, Davies, McIntyre, Stamp.

Margate: Smith, Oates, Zoricich, Annon, Sodje, Clarke (Abbott 74), Keister, Beard, Saunders, Stadhart, Pullman (Kwashi 59). Subs not used: Mitten, O’Connell.
Chester City:
Brown, Harris (Twiss 68), Bolland, Hatswell, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Brady, Foster (Rapley 82), Stamp, Carden. Subs not used: Carey, McCaldon, Ruffer.
Referee: F.Graham (Stanford-le-Hope).

CLICK for larger pictureChester continued their good start to the new campaign with a workman like, if unspectacular victory at the Crabble, Dover, landlords of opponents Margate. Not for the first time this season, Chester did not play particularly well but still came through with the points. This is a sign of a good side to take the rewards in such circumstances and it is no secret that Chester will be there or thereabouts in the end of season shake up.

The game began in quiet fashion, with a small crowd enjoying the late summer sunshine. Jon Brady, who had a fine game, had the first opportunity with an overhead kick that went just over the bar. With Darren Stamp proving a handful up front with his height, Chester were well in the game, so it came as a bit of surprise when Margate took the lead on 39 mins, as former Chester trialist Sam Sodje rose to head home unmarked following a corner. Chester, however, responded in positive fashion with Darren Stamp scoring with a header following a great cross from Jon Brady.

The second half brought a more positive and determined approach. The Margate keeper Smith made a great saves from Foster and Collins and Chester got the ball on the floor and had more of the game. Twiss (oh, why isn’t this guy playing from the start?) was introduced for the ineffective Harris, as almost at once brought the reward as his fine run and cross was tapped in by Brady for a deserved winning goal.

Chances to sew up the game then went begging as both Stamp and substitute Rapley missed gift wrapped opportunities. However the referee once again took centre stage with an inconsistent display and a spate of needless bookings. The Margate Manager Chris Kinnear was sent from the dugout for disputing a decision while it can be argued that Ben Davies was lucky to stay on the pitch, after a late tackle while on a yellow card.

Still in conclusion three points for the boys. Stamp has made a huge difference with the addition of height to the forward line. The impending return of Daryl Clare to partner Stamp is anticipated with relish!

Alan Parry-Jones

Stamp Scores    
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