remain unbeaten in September after an encouraging performance
at Kenilworth Road saw them earn a deserved point against
a side only propping up the league because of a harsh
30 point deduction.
between City’s last game south of the Watford
Gap couldn’t have been greater. It was actually
hard to imagine it was the same core of a side that
lost 6-0 at Dagenham just seven weeks previously.
Kevin Ellison could have given the
212 travelling fans something to cheer about almost
from the off when he was in a one-on-one with Luton
‘keeper Conrad Logan in the third minute. But
Logan held onto the ball and Ellison seemed to suffer
a knock in the process.
teams started playing an open game of football and it
was refreshing to see so many decent chances in the
first half. Ellison and Ryan Lowe both had opportunities
to put the Blues ahead.
But Luton edged their way into the
game, with their number two, Claude Gnakpa, putting
in some powerful runs and great crosses. He went on
to be named Hatters’ man-of-the-match and it was
his determination that led to them scoring on the 41st
He powered down the wing and just
went he looked to have over-run the ball, he laid on
a great cross for Asa Hall to connect with and volley
home. Gnakpa clattered straight into the advertising
hoardings after his deft cross and took a while to recover
while the Luton team were celebrating.
I feared it was game over then, especially
when Luton went close with a couple of shots early in
the second half. But City seemed to slip into a higher
gear when Ellison went off and was replaced by Paul
Taylor on the 60th minute.
It was the best performance I’ve
seen Taylor give and although the Luton defenders were
now towering over the vertically-challenged Chester
strikeforce, it was still a finely balanced game.
Anthony Barry came on for Damien Mozika,
who had an unusually quiet game. Barry almost immediately
made an impact, with a powerful shot on the edge of
the area which seemed destined to hit the onion bag,
but for the head of Luton central defender Keith Keane.
The impact on Keane’s skull had some of the Chester
fans wincing behind the goal, and he was deservedly
thanked by the beaten Logan.
carried on pressing forward and Ryan Lowe stepped up
to take a free kick after Paul McManus was fouled on
the 75th minute. Luton’s defence were caught totally
napping and both Taylor and McManus were left unmarked
as the ball came across. It was McManus – surely
the smallest player on the park – who headed for
home and sent the Chester fans into wild celebrations.
City were on a real high now and Luton
were decidedly on the back foot for the next ten minutes.
Kevin Roberts was sent off on the 88th minute for a
second bookable offence after a reckless challenge on
Hall, and Luton had a couple of strikes on goal as the
game drew to a frenzied conclusion.
But it was honours even, with
City decidedly the happier of the two teams at full-time.
The Blues came over to the away fans to share their
delight at a point gained, with McManus the star of
the show enjoying the handshakes and back-slapping.
Let’s hope he has a few more similar moments to
come in his City career.
Everyone knew the name of the referee before this game.
Mark Halsey had been supposedly demoted from the Premier
League for having the temerity to send the England captain
off the previous weekend. It was a case of out of the
frying pan into the fire of a high noon local derby for
Halsey who must be looking forward to returning to the
quiet life of the top flight after this full-blooded encounter.
Although there wasn’t a cloud in the sky Chester
had to batten down the hatches and weather an early storm
as Shrewsbury tore into them from the kick off. The mass
hysteria of the visiting support contributed to Damien
Mozika’s fourth booking of the season as he clashed
with Grant Holt as a corner kick was about to be taken.
it seemed to be six-of-one-and-half-a-dozen-of-the-other
but the wily Holt kept his head down. Holt had used his
head to good effect in the first minute when Davies sent
a free kick over but his diving effort was just wide of
As in the Bury game, City began to play their way back
into the game and gained a foothold in the match. They
made most headway down the right and following a foul
on Hughes, Ellison sent his free kick shot narrowly over.
McIntyre was booked for a lunge at James Vaughan as City
mounted another attack down the right wing.
On twenty-six minutes all City’s good work was undone
when they conceded yet another penalty. The danger from
the Shrews’ attack seemd to have been cleared but
Stephen Vaughan flew into the tackle on Ben Davies and
Mark Halsey pointed to the spot. A brief glimpse of a
reprieve was offered when Danby eventually persuaded Mr
Halsey to consult the linesman who had flagged that the
ball had already gone out of play but hopes were dashed
when the penalty was taken and Holt scored.
If anything, this setback was the grit in the oyster for
City who produced a pearl of fightback against physically
strong opponents. Their efforts were rewarded when Davies
fouled Ellison and the free kick was quickly taken. Stephen
Vaughan released Lowe down the right whose cross was deftly
flicked across goal by McManus and into the far corner
of the net.
It was Chester who left the field at half time to a standing
ovation. The visitors were, by now, far more subdued.
In the second half City gave as much as they got and might
have taken all three points when McManus’ impish
skill in the box set up a shooting chance. His effort
was blocked and Ellison put the rebound narrowly wide.
Shrewsbury gave Chester a scare when they hit the woodwork
twice in a couple of minutes. First substitute Humphrey,
lurking on the right, shot against the far post. Then
Hibbert was sent through after a fortunate ricochet from
Hughes’ shot. The Shrews’ forward muscled
past Linwood but saw his own shot crash against the angle
of post and bar.
City were warmly applauded off at the end of a cracking
match. Hughes was rightly awarded man of the match but
Roberts too had made crucial interventions in defence.
More than achieving a creditable draw against ambitious
opponents – it was the manner of City’s play
as a unit which had encouraged the home support.
13 September Grimsby
Town 1 Chester City 3
Attendance: 2,950 (118 Chester) Half Time 0-1
Grimsby Town: Barnes, Bennett, Heywood,
Newey, Vidal, Hegarty (Heslop 29), Hunt, Llewellyn (North
51), Till (Stockdale 86), Jarman, Boshell. Subs not used:
Clarke, Montgomery. Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Kelly,
Linwood, Roberts, S.Vaughan, Mozika, Hughes, Partridge
(McManus 75), Lowe (Barry 46), Ellison. Subs not used:
Harris, , Rutherford, Williams. Referee: Mark Haywood (West Yorkshire).
Kevin Ellison turned in a man-of-the-match performance
to grab a stunning hat-trick as City returned from Blundell
Park with all three points.
Laurence Wilson and Paul Taylor unfit Blues manager
Simon Davies drafted in Richie Partridge and Shaun Kelly
to the side that drew with Bury last Saturday.
City got off to the best possible
start with a goal inside the opening three minutes.
Ryan Lowe sent Ellison free just over half-way, the
winger outpaced Matthew Heywood on his way to the edge
of the box before firing into the far corner past Philip
Barnes in the home goal.
Partridge had a chance to double the
City advantage as he found himself in space from a Damien
Mozika pass but he shot wide from the edge of the box.
The lively Ryan Lowe tested Barnes
with a 20-yarder but the ‘keeper was well positioned
to save as City looked to extend their advantage.
For the Mariners, who hadn’t
won at home since March, the chances were few and far
between. Tom Newy fired a free-kick straight into the
City wall and striker Chris Llewellyn just failed to
meet a teasing NIck Hegarty cross.
The Blues conceded another free-kick
in a dangerous position but James Hunt headed over.
City were dominating and creating
the better chances notably when Mark Hughes set up Lowe
who cut inside the box before firing right across goal.
The home side missed a great chance
to draw level when substitute Simon Heslop shot wide
from close range before John Danby was forced to palm
over a Tom Newey effort from close range.
Danby was called onto save from Ryan
Till as the interval approached and James Vaughan was
on hand to clear a Ryan Bennett header off the line
as Chester kept their slender advantage at the break.
Just as City enjoyed a great start
to the first, it was the home side on top at the start
of the second, and it took them just four minutes to
draw level as substitute Danny North took advantage
to turn and shoot past Danby as the City defence failed
to clear a corner.
City were on the back foot now for
long periods as the home side gained control. Danby
made a great save to deny Nathan Jarman whose header
looked goalbound, and the ‘keeper was on hand
again minutes later to deny Danny Boshell after fine
build up play from North.
Boshell missed another great chance,
shooting wide when well placed, and the home side were
made to pay for their missed chances when Chester struck
again twelve minutes from time.
A foul on Mozika gave City a free-kick
30 yards out and Ellison stepped up to send a screamer
into the top corner in front of the band of travelling
Danby was on hand to save from another
corner eight minutes from time as Bennett sent in a
goalbound header but three minutes later Ellison wrapped
up the points to claim his first ever League treble.
On the counter attack Mozika won the
ball on halfway and sent substitute Paul McManus, on
for the ineffective Partridge, down the line before
receiving the ball back. The French midfielder ran through
down the left and squared the ball back for Ellison
to hit another stunning left footed strike into the
The action wasn’t over though.
Grimsby were awarded a penalty in the last minute as
James Vaughan’s outstretched leg tripped Boshell
on the edge of the box. The player took the spot-kick
himself but screwed the ball wide of Danby’s right
City went close again In stoppage
time hitting the woodwork twice through Mark Hughes
6 September Chester City 1 Bury 1
Attendance: 2,327 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Hughes, J.Vaughan.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Linwood,
Roberts, Wilson (Kelly 55), Mozika, S.Vaughan, Hughes,
Taylor, Lowe, Ellison. Subs not used: Barry, Partridge,
Harris, McManus. Bury: Brown, Scott, Futcher, Sodje,
Buchanan, Bennett, Dawson, Barry-Murphy, Jones (Baker
90), Bishop, Morrell (Hurst 82). Subs not used: Belford,
Cresswell, Racchi. Referee: Nigel Miller (County Durham).
came into the game on a high with three wins and a
draw out of their first four games and third in the
table – only goal difference keeping them off
the top. Their confidence was obvious as they started
much more positively than Chester.
Gradually the home side began to claw their way back
into the game and Ellison, Lowe and Taylor began to
see more of the ball. Some of City’s approach play began
to stir the home faithful and Taylor was proving to be
a tricky ball player – one clever back-heel nearly
made an opening in front of goal as the Bury defence
it heard to read him. Ellison had a looping header
well wide of the target but was much closer with a
that had Wayne Brown saving at full stretch.
The breakthough came when Ryan Lowe beat his man on the
right and pulled the ball back for Mozika to slot home
his first goal for City.
It was to be expected that Bury would come back at
City after the break but when they equalised shortly
it was the result of a soft penalty. A cross from the
right was hit behind Morrell who turned and seemed
to lose the ball but also fell over Linwood’s outstretched
leg. The home fans clearly thought it was a dive but
its difficult to be objective about it and the decision
had to be accepted. Danby just failed to keep Bishop’s
spot kick out.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of City for
a while. Wilson had been injured in the build up and
was replaced by Kelly who played in the centre while
Roberts filled Wilson’s left back berth. City endured
a torrid spell as Bishop misdirected a header when he
might have scored and Morell swept a shot straight into
Danby’s arms. James Vaughan then headed against his own
crossbar – though the whistle had gone for a
foul in the approach play.
At the other end City began to rally. Taylor ran through
but scuffed his shot well wide. But Chester’s
best effort in the second half came when Stephen Vaughan
hit a left
footed pile driver towards the top corner of the goal
which Brown just palmed over the bar into the top netting.
As the game neared its close the play got increasingly
niggly with Hughes and a couple of Bury players being
shown the yellow card. A draw seemed a fair result
in the end and an acceptable point following last week’s
dramatic win against Barnet.