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Wednesday 28 September
Macclesfield Town 1 Chester City 0
Cheshire Senior Cup Round 1
Attendance: - Half Time 0-0

Chester City:
Brookfield, Vaughan, Wilson, (Holroyd 82) Cadwallader, Roberts, Marsh-Evans, Bertos, Rutherford, Dove, Curle, El Khoti. Subs not Used: Wade, Linford.
Referee: M.Cunliffe.

With a torrential downpour prior to kick off, this game was lucky to go ahead with one touchline being totally waterlogged. However, when referee Mark Cunliffe gave the go ahead Dave Bell suggested that his best swimmers played on the right in the first half.

Joking aside, Chester adapted to the atrocious conditions much quicker than their opponents, and were unlucky to lose this cup tie. In the first minute Chester had a scare when Wilson sent a diving header back to Brookfield from inside the six yard box. With Brookfield at full stretch there was a sigh of relief when he stood up with the ball in his hands.

From that moment on Chester dominated the first half, with good possession play, the senior players in the team clearly encouraging the younger ones to get the ball down and play. In the 13th minute Vaughan and Rutherford linked up well, with Vaughan putting a delightful ball through to El Khoti who was marginally offside. Three minutes later, Brookfield picked out Rutherford with a long throw, he played in Dove who in turn put El Khoti in on goal, only for the post to deny him.

With Chester taking the game to Macclesfield, you felt sure that the Silkmen would get lucky, and in the 28th minute they managed to eventually find a way through the back four. With the shot looking goal bound Brookfield produced a magnificent save, parrying the ball to his right. For the remainder of the half Chester continued to dominate but lacked that killer instinct.

In the second half Chester continued where they left off, with good build up play from the back four up to the front runners of Curle and Dove. However, with memories of the youth team game against Stockport still fresh in my mind, and with the same referee, I just felt that this wasn’t going to be our night. Even when Cadwallader cleared off his line with twenty minutes remaining I still felt that it wasn’t going to be our night.

With El Khoti continuing to be nuisance on the left wing, Macclesfield struggled to contain his ‘Happy Feet’ and when he threw in a cross in the 76th minute it looked as though Bertos would head home, only for the ball to be agonisingly taken off his head at the last second. A minute later and Macclesfield had won themselves a rare corner, the ball was crossed in and met by a head that saw the ball drop stone dead at the near post. After a goal-line scramble, the ball ended up in the back of the net.

Chester responded well and maintained to create chances, with Vaughan going on a powerful run, which culminated in his cross not being met in the area. Rutherford then went close to equalising, when in the 89th minute his shot beat the keeper only for it to narrowly go wide.

After the match referee Cunliffe, with reference to the Stockport game declared himself the ‘JONA’. Hence, beware Chester Fans, if Cunliffe progresses to be a Football League Referee and his name appears on a Chester fixture be very afraid!
Tuesday 27 September
Chester City 2 Carlisle United 0
League Two
Attendance: 3,394 Half Time 2-0
Booked: Lowe.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Regan, Davies, Drummond, Walker (Curtis 85), Branch (Richardson 84), Blundell, Lowe (El Kholti 78). Subs not used: Vaughan, Bertos.
Carlisle United: Williams, Arnison, Livesey, Gray, Aranalde, McGill, Lumsdon (Murray 45), Murray, Billy, Murphy, Hawley. Subs not used: Beharall, McClen, Grand, Murray, Westwood.
Referee: T.Bates (Stoke-on-Trent).

Chester continued their impressive climb up the League Two table with this comfortable win over Carlisle United. The defence kept a third successive clean sheet as City ended the night in third place.

Despite a knock on Saturday Stewart Drummond was fit to play, while in midfield Justin Walker replaced Tom Curtis who dropped to the bench despite a fine performance at Stockport.

City began like a house on fire and could have taken the lead as early as the third minute with Gregg Blundell just failing to capitalise on a Ben Davies cross as he headed wide of the United goal from twelve yards out.

The Blues forced three corners in as many minutes as they heaped the pressure on Carlisle, all the flag kicks were cleared and Ryan Lowe also saw a shot charged down by the overworked Kevin Gray in the Carlisle defence.

The home pressure had to pay off and it did in the eleventh minute with the opening goal. Davies swung in a corner that was met by Scott McNiven, ‘keeper Williams did well to block the header but ball fell to David Artell to head home his second goal in a City shirt.

Ten minutes later Michael Branch tested Williams with a shot from inside the box as City pressed for a second.

McNiven was on hand to block a shot from Brendan McGill as Carlisle’s first real effort of the night came midway through the half, Chris MacKenzie punched the resulting corner clear.

The visitors were coming into the game more as the half wore on and MacKenzie was in the action again saving a volley from Adam Murray before City doubled their lead five minutes before the break.

Ryan Lowe won the ball and fed the perfect pass from Blundell to drill the ball home for his sixth goal of the season and give City a two goal half-time advantage.

City started the second half as they had the first. Davies and Lowe both saw free-kick’s saved by Williams in the opening stages and the busy keeper was well placed to collect an 18-yarder from Blundell on 50 minutes and repeated it five minutes later.

Glenn Murray missed a great chance to level as he put a shot into the side-netting and and Karl Hawley saw an effort charged down by McNiven. At the other end City continued to press with a series of corners – they forced 12 in all.

Davies came nearest to adding a third goal as he saw his free-kick scrape the crossbar with Williams beaten.

With 15 minutes remaining Drummond saw a header from a corner blocked and Michael Branch tried his luck from 18 yards but Williams was on hand to save his shot.

With time running out Marcus Richardson and Tom Curtis were introduced and Abdel El Kholti came on for his second appearance of the season as City held firm for three points and their third home victory of the season.

A delighted Keith Curle praised his hard working players after the victory: “I was again pleased with our performance, Carlisle are a very good side, but the times they did come forward we weathered the storms extremely well. Again it was a team performance of high intensity that was extremely pleasing.”
Saturday 24 September
Stockport County 0 Chester City 0
League Two
Attendance: 4,873 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Regan.

Stockport County:
Ikeme, Briggs, Clare, Vaughan, Robertson, Allen, Greenwood, Boshell (C.Williams 23), Hamshaw, Bramble, Malcolm. Subs: Spencer, A.Williams, Dje, Le Fondre.
Chester City: MacKenzie, McNiven, Dimech, Artell, Regan, Lowe, Curtis, Drummond (Vaughan 40), Davies, Richardson (Branch 64), Blundell. Subs: Brookfield, Walker, Bertos.
Referee: L.Mason (Lancashire).

It’s ten years since we enjoyed a Cheshire derby with Stockport County, the latter’s relegation from the First Division last season meant that we were re-acquainted. Very pleasant it was too. Stockport is a brilliant place to visit but City fans were dismayed that County were still charging First Division prices. Still, the Railway End was fairly packed and we enjoyed some autumnal sunshine. Our chants flew up into the clear blue sky, streaked with vapour trails. Home fans had the advantage of a roof over their heads on which to bounce their cries of support. The Cheadle Stand has grown up since our last meeting and is so tall to be almost within touching distance of the planes making their descent into Manchester Airport.

City put out the same team that had played so well against Bristol Rovers a week ago. As the first half wore on they began to gain territorial advantage and threaten the Stockport goal. They forced a number of corners and had a couple of shots blocked without making anything clear cut. As half time approached Ben Davies unleashed a curving, dipping shot. It was bound for the corner of the goal until Ikeme pawed it round the post.

After the break City pressed forward again, now without Drummond, who fell awkwardly and was later replaced by Vaughan. Richardson went close with a header which brushed the post and a County defender made a last ditch clearance from just under the bar. But County – with lively forwards Bramble and Malcolm always a handful – responded with late pressure too. They were galvanised into action by a venoumous volley from well outside the penalty area which MacKenzie did well to parry over the bar.

Blundell finished off a City counter attack by putting the ball in the net but was ruled marginally offside. It looked a tight decision. If they didn’t quite manage to score a goal, City defended really solidly against a very competent and competetive County.

City didn’t do quite enough to win, so there was a hint of disappointment in the air as City fans made the journey home across Cheshire. My train back to Birmingham was full of despondent Man United fans, clutching cans of Stella and musing about the end of an era.

Colin Mansley

Saturday 24 September
Grimsby Town U18 1 Chester City U18 2
Youth Alliance Cup Round 1
Half Time 0-2

Chester City:
Armstrong, Carrol, Wilson, Roberts, Cadwallader, Linford (N. Humphreys 84) Rutherford, Wade, Marsh-Evans (McCoy 55) Holroyd, Noon (M. Humphreys 64) Subs not Used: Holmes, Newton.

This game started off like all typical cup ties with neither team wanting to commit themselves. What developed was a game of cat and mouse, that lasted right throughout.

Despite Grimsby having the better chances, it was Chester who took the lead in the 20th minute, when they rode their luck.

From a back pass, Armstrong fluffed his clearance and was fortunate when the Grimsby striker failed to control the ball, allowing Armstrong to pick it up. What resulted was a big punt up field where the ball bounced over the defender’s head. In trying to recover, the defender was beaten to the ball by Holroyd who then went on to lob the keeper from 25 yards out.

This bit of luck left Grimsby shell-shocked and for the remainder of the first half Chester failed to impress. However, four minutes before the break Chester got a throw in on the left wing, which Rutherford quickly took to Linford. Having got the ball back, Rutherford sent the defender the wrong way with a dummy pass and played Linford back in. The resulting shot from Linford took a wicked deflection and cruelly ended up in the back of the net.

Despite being two goals to the good, Chester failed to build on their lead and looked uncertain in their passing. In the 50th minute they rode their luck again, when there was a mix up between Armstrong and Roberts, which culminated in the Grimsby left midfielder seeing his shot saved at the near post.

In the 55th minute the inevitable happened, the ball was crossed in from the right wing and Armstrong for some reason remained rooted to his line. The ball dropped at the back post where Wade miss-kicked his clearance, allowing the attacker to thump the ball home.

With Chester failing to hold on to the ball, Jim Hackett withdrew Noon and introduced Matty Humphreys as a lone striker. Humphreys, it has to be said, was like a breathe of fresh air and succeeded in doing what the others had failed to do. Being a nuisance, Humphreys gradually managed to cause enough uncertainty in the Grimsby back four, allowing his team-mates to start asking questions.

Having spent most of his time closing play down, Rutherford was able to join in the attack, where he played McCoy in on the left flank, the resulting cross found Holroyd at the back stick and his first effort was cleared of the line, when the ball bounced back out to him, Holroyd seen a second shot cleared in a similar fashion. However, Chester nearly sent the game into extra time when Roberts, under pressure lobbed Armstrong and was relieved to see the ball bounce over the cross bar.

With three minutes remaining Chester should have put the game to bed. Rutherford played a delightful one-two with Carrol and then slotted Holroyd clean through, Holroyd's shot rebounded back out of the keeper and straight to Matty Humphreys who hit the ball over an unguarded goal.

With two long journeys on consecutive weekends the boys looked jaded right throughout this encounter and made hard work of their victory. One thing's for sure, and that is, these boys don't seem to travel well over long distances. At times they played like strangers, but before the fans start to worry about the club's fledglings they should bear two things in mind, some of these players for the last two weeks have been up at 6am and travelled long distances, and secondly they don't have the comforts of luxury travel.

Wednesday 21 September
Chester City Reserves 0 Burnley Reserves 2

Pontins Holiday League Division One West
Half Time 0-1

Chester City:
Brookfield, Regan, El Kholti, Cadwallader, Roberts, Vaughan (Linford 82), Bertos, Walker (Noon 82), Rutherford, Holroyd (Marsh-Evans 45), Dove. Subs not used: Wilson, Wade.

With Chester fielding five senior players it implied that they where looking for their first win of the campaign. Although at times City looked to try and play football, they lacked invention and struggled in the final third. In all fairness the front two of Holroyd and Rutherford struggled against a back four that was superbly marshalled by Frank Sinclair (centre half) and Brian Jensen in goal, with Sinclair orchestrating everything.

In the first twenty minutes Chester rode their luck a little with Brookfield producing a good point blank save from Lafferty. A few minutes later Walker was fortunate when he lost possession in his own half, the ball then being played through to Lafferty who was marginally offside.

Just before the half hour mark Burnley struck with a well worked goal. Sinclair picked the ball up deep inside his own territory and calmly stroked the ball out to Karbassiyoon on the left wing. Having got to the goal-line he then cut the ball back to Lafferty who slotted home with ease.

Chester’s only real chance of the half came in the 34th minute, when Bertos went on a run culminating in him flashing the ball across the face of goal with the out-stretched Holroyd unable to connect.

Three minutes into the second half Chester won a corner on the right hand side. Vaughan and Walker played it short between them and when Walker eventually delivered, the ball fell back out to Rutherford on the edge of the penalty area, whose volley didn’t really cause the keeper much problem. Jensen then played the ball out wide to the halfway line and a diagonal ball was knocked into the path of Smith. With Rutherford breathing down his neck Smith managed to slide in before him getting the all important touch to make it 0-2.

With the game safely in the bag Burnley replaced the magnificent Sinclair in the 67th minute and it was obvious to the novice that Chester started to get a little more joy with him off the pitch.

The best chances fell in the 78th minute when Kholti fed Rutherford on the left wing. Rutherford then cut inside and played a good one two with Walker, that culminated in Rutherford slotting Marsh-Evans in one on one with the keeper, the keeper turning his shot behind. The other chance came in the 87th minute when Kholti won a tussle on the left side of midfield and played a diagonal ball to Noon whose shot was also saved.

Overall, this was a lack-lustre effort from Chester, with certain players clearly lacking in ambition.

Saturday 17 September
Chester City 4 Bristol Rovers 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,874 Half Time 3-0
Booked: none.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Hessey, Lowe, Drummond, Curtis (Walker 89), Davies (Vaughan 86), Blundell, Richardson (Dove 81). Subs not used: Regan, Bertos.
Bristol Rovers: Shearer, Hinton, Anderson (Edwards 74), Elliott, Gibb, Campbell (Disley 57), Leary (Lescott 82), Hunt, Carruthers, Agogo, Walker. Subs not used: Louis, Ryan.
Referee: M.Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

City recorded their first victory over Bristol Rovers for nearly 20 years, their second only against the Gas, and in doing so rose to fourth spot in League Two after this 4-0 rout.
Will Phill Bolland absent through injury Luke Dimech partnered David Artell at the back and there was a place on the bench for Craig Dove, now recovered from a long-tern knee injury.

It was City who had the opening chance after just four minutes as Stewrt Drummond headed over the bar after Ryan Lowe had played in Scott McNiven to deliver the cross.

The visitors had a great chance to take the lead on 25 minutes as former City striker Junior Agogo headed over after losing his marker Dimech just eight yards out at the back post following a quick-throw routine.

The Blues took the lead through Ryan Lowe on 34 minutes. A Ben Davies corner right wing eluded everyone in the box, it fell to Sean Hessey on the far side to swing in another centre, this was headed out to Lowe who steadied himself to shoot past Shearer, the ball taking a deflection off the knee from an onrushing defender. A minute later City had doubled their lead. Davies swung in a free-kick from the left for Artell to head home into the top corner unchallenged from six yards.

On the stroke of half-time City added a third to effectively kill the game off. Marcus Richardson stooped to head home from the penalty spot after McNiven had again sent in a telling pinpoint cross.

The first-half performance proved too much for two Pirates fans who turned their back on the entire second period preferring to study the Deva breeze blocks than another 45 minutes from their team.

City totally dominated proceedings after the break but had to wait until the 87th minute before wrapping things up. The visitors twice failed to clear a free-kick, as the ball was played through Artell beat Shearer to it and lobbed the keeper, his shot bounced down from the bar to the onrushing Blundell to simlly tap home from a yard out.
Saturday 17 September
Carlisle United U18 2 Chester City U18 1
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 1-0

Chester City:
Armstrong, Carroll (Potter 55), Wilson, Roberts, Cadwallader, Scales (Linford 45), Rutherford, Wade, Noon, Holroyd, Marsh-Evans (Mealand 56). Sub not used: Newton.

Having travelled 140 miles the least you expect is a decent playing surface, and decent officials. Needless to say we got neither of those today, with the game being played in a local park on a pitch the size of a match box, along with three officials who would have struggled at local level, one being a 16 year old boy.

It was noted that before the match none of the officials did a warm up, had they have done so, then maybe this match would have been all even at half time. Instead Chester found themselves a goal down in the second minute, when Armstrong cleared the ball up field only for it to be booted back to the lone striker who was a good six yards offside. The referee looked across to his assistant who was at least four yards behind play and when he received no signal, he miraculously allowed play to continue. The complaints from the Chester players where well justified but fell on deaf ears. Not to be deterred, Chester went on the offensive straight from the kick off, with Rutherford getting in behind the left back, and then laying the ball back to debutant Karl Noon. Noon shot first time and the ball was agonisingly sliced clear off the goal line.

Despite riding the gauntlet of being continually let down by the assistant, who didn't seem to understand the offside law, Chester kept faith in the defensive attributes of Cadwallader and Roberts, whose ability to produce some great recovery tackles allowed Chester to keep pushing on. In the 23rd minute Rutherford sent in a drive from 25 yards out, which swerved and dipped ferociously, which somehow the keeper managed to keep out. Wilson latched onto the rebound and set up Holroyd, who hit the ball first time from eight yards out, only for the ball to ricochet of the keeper's chest. Chester went on to create two more mentionable chances before the half, the first when Rutherford received the ball from Noon, and he jinked inside the penalty area past two defenders only to see his resulting shot shave the bottom of the far post. Noon also went close with a shot at the near post.

However, before the half was out, Chester could have easily been two down, when in injury time, the assistant again missed an easy offside decision; Cadwallader deflecting the shot wide.

After the half time interval, Jim Hackett felt the need for change, and the three substitutes where introduced within the first 15 minutes. Despite continued good play from Cadwallader, Noon and Rutherford Chester struggled to gain any momentum, with Carlisle continually disrupting play with strong arm tactics.

With the half looking to be petering out, Rutherford went on a run and split the defence wide open in the 70th minute with a sublime piece of play that put Mealand clean through, one on one with the keeper. His effort being saved by the keeper then rebounded back out to a defender who controlled the ball with his hand. After strong shouts for a penalty the referee correctly pointed to the spot, where Noon struck the ball home low to the keeper's right.

Having got themselves back in the game, Chester then shot themselves in the foot straight from kick off, with a misunderstanding between Armstrong in goal, and Roberts at centre half. The ball was played high up field to the lone striker, and after receiving a late shout from the keeper, Roberts failed to deal with the danger effectively, the striker then hit the flimsiest of shot’s between Armstrong and his near post to make it 2-1.

For the last twenty minutes Chester only created one other chance, when Rutherford hit a volley on the turn, which flew inches wide of the upright.

Saturday 10 September
Notts County 1 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 5,404 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Davies.

Notts County:
Pilkington, Wilson, Baudet, O’Callaghan, Ullathorne, Pipe, Edwards, Gill, Palmer (White 45), Hurst (Sheridan 77), Scoffham. Subs not used: Marshall, McMahon, Martin.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Hessey, Bolland (Dimech 18), Artell, McNiven, Drummond, Curtis (Davies 62), Walker, Branch, Lowe, Richardson (Blundell 69). Subs not used: Vaughan, Bertos.
Referee: N.Swarbrick (Lancashire).

It shows the sign of much promising times and expectations, compared to last seasons campaigns, that Chester can come to the ground of the league leaders and be disappointed with a 1-1 draw. Yes, this is a much more improved and disciplined Chester side than last season, with thankfully good passing football and no sign of the hoof tactics. All credit to Keith Curle and his backroom team. Makes a pleasant change!

The first half was virtually a non event. Chester seems content to sit back, while County looked organised without really doing anything. The tactics of playing Richardson instead of Blundell as a target man was not really working, as the majority of time the ball was passing over his head! However on the stroke of half time things boiled over when the County forward Scoffham was sent off for striking David Artell. The decision appeared a little harsh, but it was an accident waiting to happen, as things had been niggly all half. The crowds reaction to rooky referee Mr. Swarbrick was hostile a very brave man!

The second half saw a much more exciting encounter, Chester applied early pressure with Curtis coming close and Hessey, back in the side for Regan, hitting the post following a strong run. However, County took the lead on 56 minutes, when MacKenzie failed to hold a shot from Gill and the dangerous Hurst prodded in the rebound. This brought an instant attacking response from City. Davies and Blundell were introduced, Drummond (now thankfully playing in his proper central midfield role) shot wide when well placed, before Davies leveled on 70 minutes, following a good work by Branch.

The momentum seemed to be lost as Branch injured his hamstring and it was in theory, 10 v 10, but Chester still piled forward. However a mistake by Dimech, who had replaced the injured Bolland, let in Hurst, but Mackenzie redeemed himself with a fine save. Late pressure nearly brought the winning goal, with Davies hitting the post with a great volley and Lowe missing a great chance from a six yard header.

Still a good performance and the future looks bright. Most of us would have settled for a point before hand. Thanks for the second half entertainment!

Alan Parry-Jones

Friday 9 September
Chester City U18 0 Stockport County U18 1
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 0-0

Chester City:
Brookfield, Jones, Wilson, Roberts, Cadwallader, Scales, Rutherford, Carrol (Wade 54), Marsh-Evans, Holroyd, McCoy (Linford 61) Mealand for Linford 78)) Subs not used: Holmes, Humphreys.

The game started off at a very fast pace with tackles flying in from everywhere. However, after a robust challenge involving Scales and an opponent (both two footed) the referee had stern words and the pace soon settled.

Chester had the better of the first half chances, with the best move coming in the 46th minute, when Rutherford now playing centre-mid picked the ball up deep in his own half, and carried it to the half way line where he found McCoy. Rutherford then carried on his run into the left back area, where McCoy played him back in. Feinting to cross, Rutherford put the centre half on his backside and then crossed the ball in to the area. Unfortunately the quality of the cross didn’t match the build up play and it was an easy catch for the keeper.

In the second half Chester stepped it up a few notches. Early on they got a free kick some 30 yards out, which Scales passed to Rutherford who then floated a lovely ball on to the head of Marsh-Evans. Somehow the keeper got his hand to it and turned it around the post. On the hour mark Rutherford jinked his way infield from the left hand side beating three players and creating enough space to get his shot off; with the keeper well beaten the ball cannoned back off the foot of the post, and out to Scales whose shot whistled just inches wide.

Chester continued to pile on the pressure, with chances from Holroyd and Marsh-Evans to mention but a few, but somehow the ball just wouldn't go in. With only ten minutes left the unthinkable happened, when Scales lost possession in the centre of the pitch and Stockport lumped the ball hopelessly up field. With a stroke of luck the ball was deflected out to the right wing, and a low cross was fired across the face of goal, only to be met by the player arriving late who drove the ball back across Brookfield and into the far corner.

Stockport continued to struggle with Chester’s superior play and held on for dear life. With time being eaten away at every opportunity, the result now looked inevitable, but Chester didn’t play with that mentality. Deep in injury time Rutherford received the ball out on the left wing where he ran past the left back and made his way into the penalty area. Once inside the penalty area, the centre half lunged in, and with shouts of ‘go down’ Rutherford stayed on his feet and layed the ball back to Mealand, who for some reason stooped to head the ball straight at the keeper. At the final whistle Stockport players and spectators alike, knew they had gotten away with daylight robbery. Make no bones about it, if this had been a boxing match the referee would have stopped it a long time ago!

Tuesday 6 September
Chester City 1 Grimsby Town 2
League Two
Attendance: 3,095 Half Time 0-0
Booked: McNiven.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, Regan, Bolland, Dimech, McNiven (Artell 90), Lowe, Drummond, Curtis, Davies (Bertos 85), Blundell (Richardson 84), Branch. Subs not used: Vaughan, Walker.
Grimsby Town: Mildenhall, McDermott, Jones, Whittle, Croft, Cohen (Barwick 67), Bolland, Kamudimba Kalala, Parkinson, Jones (Gritton 73), Reddy (Crane 90). Subs not used: Ramsden, Newey.
Referee: J.Singh (Hounslow).

There was an air of expectancy prior to the game tonight with the knowledge that a win of any description would take City to the top of the table and set up a summit clash at Meadow Lane on Saturday.
Queues formed outside the home turnstiles, so much so, that several regulars – used to taking their place on the terracing just prior to kick off – found that they missed the opening minutes. They were spared the unnecessary attempts to get the atmosphere buzzing via the tannoy – Hi Ho Silver Lining (Borrowed from Molineux) and everyone being urged to clap in time. Most of us duly did. But what ever happened to “Hello Spion Kop! Hello Albert!”? Personally, Doctor Death’s stadium safety announcement always gets me in the mood for the match – set this to a disco beat and the crowd really would get going.

This was a tough test for City. Two evenly matched sides with Grimsby just shading it in terms of possession and, eventually goals as well. It was the Mariners who bobbed to the surface and displaced us in third position.

In the first half there were very few clear cut chances. City attacked with flair and sparkle – the front three of Branch, Lowe and Blundell passing and moving to dazzling effect. Grimsby defended well and fought tenaciously to win the battle in the middle of the park. Towards the end of the half Mr Singh produced a flurry of yellow cards as the play, always hard fought, became more combative.

After the break the play opened up a lot more as the visitors took the lead from the penalty spot. A series of corners caused some hesitancy in Chester’s defence and Jones-the-former-Tranmere-one went down after a push from Bolland. MacKenzie danced like a marionette along the line but JPK Kalala scored with ease.

Three minutes later City were level following a scintillating break. Branch charged down a clearance just inside the Grimsby half and set Blundell tearing away down the right. He sent a perfect pass across for Lowe, under intense pressure from a defender and the keeper, to score with a slick touch. City began to attack more frequently and Lowe could have added another shortly after when, following Branch’s pass he just had Mildenhall to beat. He tried to change feet however and in trying to make sure of his shot gave the keeper the chance to save.

Chester’s closest attempt at scoring after this was when a delightful pass from Drummond slipped Branch in behind the defence. His vicious shot was parried by Mildenhall and fell awkwardly for Lowe. Before he could get the ball out from under his feet, he was dispossessed.

At the other end Reddy’s pace and the Grimsby midfield’s running with the ball at City’s defence were causing problems. Twice, if not three times Luke Dimech – who gave up the chance of playing for Malta this week – intervened with saving tackles. But as City lost possession down the right, Gritton swept the ball up towards Reddy. Dimech slipped and lost a yard on the Grimsby forward who slipped the ball under the advancing MacKenzie.

City pressed hard for another leveller until deep into added time but, after so many recent last gasp goals, we had the feeling it wasn’t to be this time. And so it proved.

A good game and a good display by City. They attacked with panache but didn’t manage to dominate the midfield. Keith Curle, before the game, certainly wasn’t getting carried away with Chester’s excellent start to the season. But he has promised exciting times. And if this is anything to go by, Saturday’s match should be a cracker.

Colin Mansley

Monday 5 September
Preston North End Reserves 3 Chester City Reserves 1
Pontins Holiday League Division One West
Half Time 2-1

Chester City:
Brookfield, Wilson, McCoy, Roberts, Cadwallader, Scales, Rutherford, Linford (Jones 68), Marsh-Evans, Mealand (Caroll 63), Holroyd (Humphreys 80). Subs not used: Holmes, Newton.

The team today consisted totally of youth players, who after Saturday’s loss at Walsall had a lot to prove. With Preston fielding a strong team, with at least four senior players and Chester playing an unfamiliar 4-3-3 system, this was always going to be a test of the youngsters’ mettle.

Things looked optimistic in the first few minutes when Holroyd crossed from the right to an unmarked Marsh-Evans. Unfortunately Marsh-Evans misjudged the flight of the ball and failed to make contact. Shortly afterwards Chester found themselves 1-0 down in the seventh minute after some good individual play from Nowland who slotted the ball home from the edge of the area.

Two minutes later and Chester where caught knapping when the right winger Anyinsah got in behind the defence and cut the ball back for Jackson to slot home from close range.

Having conceded two early goals, one got the feeling that it could get a little embarrassing, but the lads responded well. In the 16th minute, Rutherford picked the ball up some 15 yards inside his own half and ran some twenty yards before playing a neat one-two with Mealand. With the return a little heavy Rutherford bravely slid in against the keeper, where the ball ricocheted of the keeper’s chest and into the path of Holroyd who stroked the ball into an empty net.

Although Chester managed to compete well, Preston always seemed to have men over on either flank. And in the 40th minute the boys rode their luck when Hibbert missed with a diving header from six yards out.

In the second half Chester started well, with Mealand hitting the side netting. But as the half progressed one was always wary that North End would catch Chester out with their wide play. On the hour this became apparent when Anyinsah whipped in a ball from the right wing only for the resulting goal to be disallowed for offside.

However, Chester continued to battle away, with Rutherford and Scales working their socks off in midfield, along with good defensive displays from Roberts and Cadwallader. Despite these efforts North End scored against the run of play in the 80th minute. Breaking down a Chester attack, Howard picked out Anyinsah with a 30 yard ball who in turn picked out Jackson to make it 3-1.

Not to be deterred Chester continued to create chances, with Rutherford the thorn in North End’s side. It was with sheer elegance when he beat two players and dinked the ball into the penalty area for Carrol, only for Carrol to hesitate when he should have shot first time.

All in all, it was a tenacious performance from the youngster’s who have travelled over 400 miles and played twice in just three days. Much of the credit must go to Keith Curle, (in attendance) who has instilled this never say die attitude into all the players and staff alike.
Saturday 3 September
Walsall U18 4 Chester City U18 2
Youth Alliance North and Midlands West Conference
Half Time 0-1

Chester City:
Ryan Brookfield, James Wilson, Sean Newton, (David McCoy 65) Kevin Roberts, Darren Jones, (Freddie Potter 61) James Scales, Paul Rutherford, Nick Linford, (Graham Mealand 54) Robert Marsh-Evans, Chris Holroyd, Neil Carrol. Subs not used: Jamie Holmes, Matthew Humphreys.

Chester got off to a decent start with a trio of half chances in the first five minutes falling to Marsh-Evans, Holroyd and Rutherford. However, on the quarter hour mark they got a warning when Wilson was caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area. With Brookfield rounded, 1-0 looked inevitable, but from nowhere Darren Jones made a superb clearance off the line to spare Wilson’s blushes. From the resulting corner Jones cleared the ball to Rutherford on the right wing who whipped in an early cross towards the far post, which was met by the head of Marsh-Evans. With the ball looking as if it was ending up in the bottom right corner, the keeper produced a magnificent fingertip save to deny Chester the lead.

The good start by Chester clearly had some Walsall players flustered, who instead of concentrating on their football wanted to turn this game into an ugly affair. The home 11 was involved in numerous misdemeanours, which eventually resulted in him kicking out at Darren Jones in an off the ball incident. With the referee ignoring such tactics the game deteriorated, during which time Jones received a yellow card for a two-footed challenge and then Scales harshly received a yellow card for what could only be considered as an accidental collision.

With 15 minutes of the half remaining Chester got the breakthrough they deserved when Holroyd was up-ended in the penalty area, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Marsh-Evans stepped up and coolly struck the ball into the top left corner.

With a good all round team performance, (the lads all winning their own individual battles) Chester continued to probe away and where unfortunate not to add another goal deep in injury time, when Newton played a wonderful ball into the path of Rutherford on the left wing; who got in behind the right back and fizzed in a low ball across the face of the goal that just needed the slightest of touches. Unfortunately no one could get that vital touch, and so it was Chester finished the half 1-0 up.

At the start of the second half Walsall came out with all guns blazing and Chester escaped with an early warning in the very first minute, when the home 11 got in behind the right back. Cutting in field from the corner flag he continued his run into the six-yard box and his shot squirmed awkwardly under Brookfield; fortunately Newton was at hand to clear off the line. A minute later, and Brookfield had to produce a close range save from five yards out: the writing was on the wall. Three minutes later and Chester where guilty of sloppy defending when the forward was allowed a free header from only six yards out, Brookfield this time unable to stop the ball crossing the line.

Chester responded two minutes later when Rutherford picked the ball up in the centre circle, and after eluding two players put the deftest of balls through to Holroyd who was clean through on goal only for him to be hauled to the ground by the last rear most defender. The decision for the referee was an easy one; hence, I stood there dumb struck when he not only failed to show a red card, but also failed to show no card at all. From the free kick Walsall broke up the left wing and despite fluffing his pass, the ball found its way to the home number 7; who struck the ball inside the left hand post. At two one up Walsall failed to dominate and continued to struggle against a stubborn Chester team.

In the 65th minute the home number 11 gave away yet another free kick, which finally saw the referee finally reach for his book and produce a yellow card. From the free kick Newton floated the ball to the far post, and Carrol headed back across goal to Holroyd who found the net from two yards out.

With the game all-square, Chester struggled in the last fifteen minutes, (with the early morning departure from Daresbury Park now taking its toll.) and Walsall started to exploit the gaps and after a goalmouth scramble took the lead in the 76th minute. Seven minutes later and they scored again, this time passing their way through a tired back four.

Despite losing 4-2 the score-line somewhat flattered Walsall, who by no means dominated this game. As the lads trudged off with their heads hung low, they would do well to use the journey home to evaluate the second half performance, and I’m sure with the guidance of Jim Hackett and Bill Gerrard, the boys will strive to put right their errors of this ill fated 45 minutes!
Friday 2 September
Chester City 3 Mansfield Town 1
League Two
Attendance: 3,079 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Artell.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, McNiven, Artell, Dimech, Regan, Drummond, Curtis, Davies (Walker 89), Lowe, Branch (Bertos 89), Blundell (Richardson 89). Subs not used: Vaughan, Bolland.
Mansfield Town: Pressman, Peers, Day, Buxton (Hjelde 68), Talbot (Dawson 64), Uhlenbeek, Baptiste, Coke (Rundle 64), Jelleyman, Brown, Barker. Subs not used: White, Lloyd.
Referee: M.Fletcher (Worcestershire).

Looking for their first home win of the season City couldn’t have got off to a better start against Mansfield Town taking the lead after just two minutes.

Ben Davies took a short left wing corner the ball was returned to him and he whipped in a cross that eluded a box full of players to find Gregg Blundell at the far post who applied the finishing touch with a deft header from a yard out. This was Citys first goal in an opening 45 this season!

Against his former club, manager Keith Curle had opted for the attacking option of Ryan Lowe, Michael Branch and Blundell that served City so well in the second half at Plainmoor. There was a recall of Luke Dimech at the expense of Phil Bolland who took a seat on the bench.

Minutes after the opening goal Ben Davies, who had another excellent game, saw a shot drift wide.

The Stags first real threat came on 13 minutes when they forced their first corner but Citys defence was able to clear Jelleymans effort. Midway through the half they had a couple of efforts in a minute as first Coke shot wide and Barker headed over. Chris MacKenzie was on had a few minutes later to save another header Barker effort.

Kevin Pressman in goal for the Stags almost gifted City a second as he fumbled a cross shot at the feet of Blundell but the striker could only manage to flick the woodwork before Davies put the loose ball wide.

Despite enjoying more of the ball in the opening period City had to be content with just their one goal lead at the break.

City were nearly caught flat footed at the restart but MacKenzie saved well to deny Coke an equaliser on 47 minutes. However the Blues continued to pressure and look for a second. Ryan Lowe and Michael Branch both saw chances saved, and Stewart Drummond shot over before the Blues deservedly doubled their lead on the hour as Lowe played in Branch who crossed for Blundell to rise and head home at the back post from two yards.

Mansfield pull a goal back on 67 minutes through as Alex Baptiste from six yards out following a well delivered cross from substitute Rundle.

With ten minutes remaining though Chester sealed the three points as Lowe scored City’s third. Once again it was Branch who fed the ball to Blundell and his neat lay-off set up Lowe’s scoring chance which he took with a half-volley from twelve yards in front of a jubilant north terrace.















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