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MATCH REPORTS 1997/98
Pre-Season | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May
SEPTEMBER 1997

27 September 1997
Rotherham United 4 Chester City 2

Rotherham United: Mimms, Clark, Scott, Thompson (Hurst 79), Knill, Warner, Bos, Bass, White, Glover, Roscoe, subs, Berry, Hurst.
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson (Murphy 67), Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, McDonald, Flitcroft, Fisher (Thomas 45), sub Brown.
Referee: Matt Messias (York).

Chester's slip-shod defence committed a catalogue of cardinal sins to gift Rotherham victory before the half-time whistle.
The Blues, unchanged from last week's mauling at Mansfield, fell behind in the 16th minute after David Flitcroft was dispossessed in midfield, Spencer Whelan failed to cut out Andy Roscoe's cross and the Millers' Jason White was left unmarked to head the ball past Ronnie Sinclair.

Chester had competed equally before the goal, but from then on Rotherham dominated proceedings.
Dutch import Gijsbert Bos killed off the game as a contest with two simple tap-ins in the 38th and 41st minutes.
His first strike came after City failed to clear a corner, while his second finished off a neat move which started on the left wing.

Gary Bennett was the only Chester player who could justifiably feel aggrieved about events in the first half. The unfortunate striker became a victim of mistaken identity when he was booked for a foul committed by Chris Priest.

The travelling fans booed the Blues off the field after the first 45 minutes and had to endure further humiliation two minutes after the restart.

Rotherham striker Lee Glover highlighted the Chester defence's inadequacies when he picked the ball up outside the penalty area, waltzed into the box and directed the ball past Sinclair despite the attentions of five City players.
Chester then woke up and substitutes John Murphy, who replaced the injured Ross Davidson, and Rod Thomas, on for the ineffective Neil Fisher, injected a little more urgency into the Blues attack.

Goals from Julian Alsford, who converted a neat free kick routine in which Murphy played a major part on 69 minutes, and Priest, who forced home a goalmouth scramble six minutes later, conjured faint hopes of a miraculous comeback.
Priest was also denied two creditable claims for penalties, but it would have been a real injustice if Chester, who were nothing short of dire in the first half and barely average after the break, had come away from South Yorkshire with anything but a sound beating.

Toby Rosenbloom
20 September 1997
Mansfield Town 4 Chester City 1

Mansfield Town: Bowling, Ford, Harper (Williams 45), Sedgemore, Eustace, Hackett, Schofield, Clarke (Hassell 64), Christie (Milner 87), Whitehall, Doolan.
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, McDonald, Flitcroft, Fisher (Thomas 59), subs Jones, Murphy.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).

Despite a dream start with the lead on 18 minutes, City's defence caved-in, conceding three goals in 12 minutes, to leave the game out of reach at half-time. Ross Davidson, scoring his second penalty of the week (est speed 100mph) slightly against the run of play to put Chester one-up after Rod McDonald had been fouled inside the box by Doolan.

Town's equaliser came with an unstoppable 25-yard free-kick from Whitehall after Spenner had given away a free kick (and earned a booking) outside the box.

The Stags took the lead a couple of minutes later. Tony Ford, cutting in from the left unchallenged, shot at goal and the ball hit the net via what looked like a Jenkins/Sinclair mix-up – the defence was now a complete shambles. Whitehall helped himself to a second goal ten minutes later, as the City defence conveniently backed off as he homed in from the right. Chester's midfield was completely outclassed, with Fisher ineffective and Richardson non-existent (again). While up front Gary Bennett and Rod McDonald struggled with what little service they got.

Thomas replaced Fisher, and Murphy was about to enter the fray before mysteriously donning his tracksuit and sitting back on the bench. Mansfield wrapped up the points five minutes from time, Christie slotting the ball home after Sinclair, with much embarrassment, had totally missed his attempted clearance from Whitehall's long ball up field.

City still had a couple of chances with Bennett heading over from point-blank range, and Whelan volleying narrowly wide from 20-yards but a goal then would have been scant consolation.

All in all a very disappointing performance in front of an expectant away following. Having to pay £8 for an awful view from the corner didn't help either, the end behind the goal being closed for safety reasons.
17 September 1997
Chester City Youth 2 Barnsley Youth 0

Chester City: Conkie, Moss, Whitehead, Carson (Lloyd 64), Thompson, Pendleton, Patterson, McKay (Lancaster 9), A Shelton, Rendell (Love 75), Williams.

Chester's youth team put in a battling performance against Barnsley in the FA Youth Cup to end up 2-1 winners.
It was a scrappy first 15 minutes, with both sides making errors, but Chester then came to life.
After 20 minutes City took the lead through Phil Patterson. Carl Rendell's shot was touched onto the post by the Barnsley keeper, and Patterson followed up by hammering home City's first.

Plenty of chances fell to the home side, who dominated the first half and Chester extended their lead on 32 minutes.
Scott Williams' free kick hit the post but Matty McKay was on hand to head home.
The second half saw a complete change around from Barnsley. Chester were under more pressure, and keeper Matthew Conkie was forced to make several crucial saves.

Sixteen minutes into the second half Barnsley got a goal. Substitute Curtis Bernard took advantage of a hesitation in defence to give the visitors a chance to get back into the game.

As Chester began to tire, they found themselves hanging on desperately to their lead.

All the Chester side did their best, especially Conkie who made several excellent saves in the second half. Scott Thompson and David Pendleton were strong at the back.

Youth Team Coach Dave Fogg was delighted with the performance.

He said: "I am delighted to perform so well against a Premiership club and it proves that we are getting it right."


Evening Leader
16 September 1997
Cardiff City 0 Chester City 2

Cardiff City: Hallworth, Eckhardt, Beech, Young, Harris, Fowler, O'Sullivan, Stoker, Greenacre, White, Partridge (Carss 76), subs Middleton, Lloyd.
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Woods (Richardson 12), Whelan, Alsford, Bennett (Jones 87), Priest, Murphy, Flitcroft, Fisher (Thomas 90).
Referee: John Brandwood (Lichfield).

A solid defensive display earned Chester their third win on the run and prevented Cardiff City going top. Chester took the lead on 11 minutes through Julian Alsford, heading home a Neil Fisher corner. Their second came just after the half hour from the penalty spot. Substitute Nick Richardson, on for the injured Matt Woods, was fouled in the box by Scott Young and Ross Davidson smashed home the spot kick.

Two saves from Ronnie Sinclair denied Partridge and White and kept the Blues in the frame up to the break. John Murphy almost made it three 15 minutes from time but his diving header, which was heading for the corner, was brilliantly saved by the Cardiff keeper Hallworth. This win moves Chester up to 7th place one point behind the leaders.

13 September 1997
Chester City 2 Shrewsbury Town 0

Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Woods (Richardson 58), Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, McDonald (Murphy 69), Flitcroft, Fisher. Sub not used: Thomas.
Shrewsbury Town: Edwards, Taylor (Seabury 79), Dempsey, Scott, Herbert, Wilding, Brown (Currie 66), Ward, Steele, Evans, Berkley. Sub not used: Hanmer.
Referee: Alan Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).

Once again it was that man Gary Bennett who did the damage, scoring both goals as City overcame the swirling wind for a hard fought win. The Shrews twice went close in the opening stages while City's defenders found their feet. The Blues' best chance fell to Rod McDonald who had a superb game leading the line, and looks to be forging a strong partnership with Gary Bennett. McDonald headed over the bar on 18 minutes but soon after City opened their account with Bennett heading home – while on his knees – after fine approach work from Jenkins and Flitcroft.

Bennett and Flitcroft both missed great chances to increase the lead before the interval. After the break and with the wind behind them, Shrewsbury only really threatened on one occasion with a Mark Dempsey free kick, that just flew over the bar. Chester secured the points with a killer goal on the break, Neil Fisher's cross being headed home by Benno. City were now running the game, and, but for a couple of superb saves by Paul Edwards in the Shrews goal may have doubled their tally.
5 September 1997
Chester City 1 Hull City 0

Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Woods, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, McDonald (Thomas 76), Flitcroft (Richardson 86), Fisher, sub Murphy.
Hull City: Thomson, Trevitt (Brown 80), Rioch, Wright, Brien, Dewhurst, Joyce, Peacock, Darby, Hateley, Mann (Doncel 66), sub Wilson.
Referee: Trevor Jones (Barrow-in-Furness).

A goal from Gary Bennett, and set up by Rod McDonald, just before half time was enough to give Chester the points in this Friday night encounter. This was a much improved attacking display from City, though defensively they were still shaky at the back. This time it was the turn of Julian Alsford to have one of those games he'd want to forget in a hurry. Mark Hateley and Duane Darby were giving the defence the run-around in the early stages, with Ronnie Sinclair coming to City's the rescue on several occasions, with one particularly good save to deny Darby.

Rod McDonald also had a couple of efforts but shot tamely at keeper Thompson. Hateley wasted a golden opportunity when he was put through one on one, shooting over the bar.

After the break Chester took control. Bennett had a couple of chances and McDonald went close with a 30-yard chip. But City's best chance of adding a second went to Chris Priest right at the death.
2 September 1997
Scunthorpe United 2 Chester City 1

Scunthorpe United: Clarke, Walsh, McAuley, Sertori, Housham, Hope, Walker, D'Auria. Regis, Forrester (Eyre 70), Calvo Garcia, subs McNeil, Shakespear.
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Fisher (Thomas 87), Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Richardson (Woods 62), McDonald (Murphy 80), Flitcroft, Priest.
Referee: Brian Coddington (Sheffield)

At the end of the match Benno and Jenkins applauded the travelling faithful for their support but the fans had churlishly turned their backs and were slouching out of Glanford Park. The outside speakers were playing “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” making us feel even more miserable. Had we taken a point home – and we should have done – it would have been so different. Now the pressure is beginning to pile up for a win against Hull.

The pattern of the game was similar to Barnet three days before. For the first ten minutes Scunthorpe were buzzing round the edge of the box and with the defence all over the place we prepared ourselves for the worst. But steadily City got to grips with the game and pushed play back to the half way line. A couple of forays into attack followed. Then just as two bored City fans began to strike up another turgid rendition of " Stand up if you hate Wrexham", Flicker whanged the ball over from deep on the right wing and there was Benno, lurking in the darkness at the far post to send in a perfect looping header – and City were ahead.

It was a lead they held without much trouble till half time. After the break they threatened to go further ahead with McDonald and Bennett combining quite well without ever making that final telling pass. Fisher and Priest left the ball for each other on the edge of the box – no-one seemed to want to have a dig. At the other end Scunthorpe looked to have equalised when Cavo Garcia broke free and crossed perfectly – Ronnie made a world class save from the ensuing header. The game was still remarkable open going from one end to the other. Fatefully as twenty minutes were left, we began to think – well, we night win this, but then look what happened at Barnet. Then what happened at Barnet happened at Scunthorpe too. Regis (Cyrille's cousin) went down like a sack of potatoes on the edge of the box of the penalty area with the diminutive Fisher, who hardly ever makes a tackle anyway standing, arms akimbo, unable to believe the referee's quick decision.

Ronnie, agonisingly touched the kick but couldn't prevent the goal. From the kick off City had not improved their hoof-it routine. Worse was to follow five minutes before the end, their number five went on a raking run from the right (as he had done a few minutes before), dinked the ball into Eyre who turned and hit a fierce low shot which seemed to go in off Ronnie's body.

One thing, and one thing only cheered me up on the long drive home – The Radio 5 comment that Wrexham – who had been 3-0 up – had lost 4-3 to Blackpool.


Albert

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