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APRIL 2003
Gravesend & Northfleet (A) | Woking (H) | Farnborough Town (H) | Nuneaton Borough (A) | Stevenage Borough (H) | Yeovil Town (A)
Saturday 26 April 2003
Bradford City Youth 0 Chester City Youth 3

Merit League Division Two North

Chester City: Chester City: Louie Macken, Tom Coulson, John Davies, Ian Lathom, Adam Hunter, Danny Ventre, Adam Kelly, Peter Dogun, Lee Reece, Dean Buckley, John Moore.

The youth team had an excellent 3-0 away win at Bradford in their last league game of the season with two goals from Lee Reece and one from Danny Ventre.

As at 29 April 2003 P W D L F A GD Pts
Oldham Athletic 9 6 1 2 25 16 9 19
Notts County 9 5 2 2 13 6 7 17
Chester City 9 5 1 3 14 13 1 16
Doncaster Rovers 8 4 3 1 15 7 8 15
Stockport County 9 3 4 2 10 9 1 13
Burnley 9 3 3 3 17 16 1 12
Bradford City 8 1 5 2 8 11 -3 8
Carlisle United 7 2 0 5 7 13 -6 6
Grimsby Town 9 2 0 7 10 18 -8 6
Lincoln City 9 1 3 5 9 19 -10 6

Saturday 26 April 2003
Yeovil Town 1 Chester City 1

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 8,111 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Carden, Twiss, Bolland. Sent Off: Brady.

Yeovil Town: Weale, Lockwood, Pluck, Johnson, Skiverton, Williams, Lindegaard, O’Brien, McIndoe, Way, Crittenden, Elkholti, Gall, Jackson. Subs not used: Giles, Collis.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Bolland, Joy, Hatswell, Kelly, Blackburn, Brady, Twiss (McIntyre 81), Cameron (Sugden 74), Woodyatt, Carden (Davies 77). Subs not used: Beesley, Worsnop.
Referee: A.Marriner (Birmingham).

Match ProgrammeA Kevin McIntyre goal five minutes from time brought a deserved point for City who fought back well to earn a point at Huish Park after falling behind to an early goal. The equaliser was just reward for the player who, only two minutes earlier, had been brought down in the box by Gavin Williams for what seemed a blatant penalty, only to be denied by referee Marriner.

Mark Wright rested Daryl Clare and Scott Guyett for the game that attracted the largest Conference crowd of the season, but the Blues weren’t just there to make up the numbers as they turned in their best all-round performance for a long time.

City fell behind after just eight minutes, Williams cut through the City rearguard and just before Phil Bolland’s challenge slipped the ball through to in-form striker Kevin Gall who gave Wayne Brown no chance and registered the home sides 100th goal of the campaign.

The home side produced two more chances soon after but both, from Jackson, resulted in weak shots. City’s defence, with Phil Bolland in commanding form were rarely troubled for the rest of the first half as the rain lashed down making playing conditions difficult.

City’s best efforts of the half came in a two minute spell on 22 minutes as Chris Weale in the home goal produced a superb one handed save to deny Jon Brady after the midfielder and connected well with a free-kick from just outside the box following a foul on Michael Twiss by Lee Johnson. The resulting corner saw a Chris Blackburn shot scrambled away from near the line by a home player.

The rain eased off as the second half got under way though chances were few and far between. Ice man Bolland skillfully shepherded Gall out of the danger zone after the striker had skipped through the city rearguard but the main talking point came with a little over 20 minutes remaining when Jon Brady was adjudged to have led with his elbow when challenging for a header with Roy O’Brien and was given a straight red card.

City seemed to step a gear following this and Twiss and Paul Carden both went close as he visitor looked to get on level terms. Wright replaced Dave Cameron with Ryan Sugden up front and changed the midfield bringing on Ben Davies and Kevin McIntyre for Carden and Twiss and it wasn’t long before Davies brought a save from Weale.

With seven minutes remaining McIntytre was seemingly fouled inside the area by Williams but referee Marriner waved play-on. The surprised grin on the face of the defender seconds later said it all!

Two minutes later though City were level as McIntyre found himself unmarked six yards out to head home from a Ben Davies corner. And there wa almost time for a winner as McIntyre again found himself free only to be denied by the onrushing keeper.

Final Conference table

Monday 21 April 2003
Chester City 2 Stevenage Borough 0

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,745 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Hatswell, Guyett, Davies.

Chester City: W.Brown, Hatswell, Bolland, Guyett, McIntyre, Carden, Carey, Davies (Blackburn 88), Brady, Clare (Twiss 88), Sugden (Cameron 82). Subs not used: Worsnop, Woodyatt.
Stevenage Borough:
Westhead, Laker, Goodliffe, G.MacDonald (Cook 76), Travis, Carroll, Holloway (Wormull 76), Watson, Fraser, Maamria, Elding. Subs not used: Richards, Perez, Dreyer.
Referee: P.Canadine (Rotherham).

Match ProgrammeThat’s more like it! After a week of frustrating performances against struggling Woking, Farnborough Town and Nuneaton Borough, the Blues got back to winning ways against in-form Stevenage Borough. Manager Mark Wright probably fielded the strongest side he could and gave the captain’s armband to Shaun Carey who responded to the responsibility with his best game in ages.

The game was preceded by an impeccably observed one minute silence for City’s matchday host Carl Fielder-Shaw who died last week.

As a game, this one got off to a quiet end-of-season start, scrappy at times as both sides probed for an opening though it wasn’t long before referee Canadine got into the action booking Borough’s Gary Holloway after just eight minutes for a foul on Kevin McIntyre. There were to be six more bookings to follow in the afternoon, about half of which seemed warranted, in a game which was punctuated with free-kicks throughout.

On ten minutes, City had the first real chance of the game as Daryl Clare sent in a flashing near post header, from a right wing cross hit at pace, that was smartly tipped round the post by Mark Westhead in the visitors goal.

The visitors had an early chance as Anthony Elding was given a free far post header from a corner though he could only direct his effort wide when well placed.

Scott Guyett had a shot deflected for a corner by Jason Goodliffe before Westhead was again called into action producing another fine save as a well worked Jon Brady free-kick seemed to be heading just inside the left hand post, the ball was pushed out to Ryan Sugden who hit the side netting from a narrow angle.

The second half followed the same scrappy pattern as the first but the Blues took the lead eighteen minutes from the final whistle. Ryan Sugden broke through on the right into the box, turned, seemed to lose the ball, but as he tried to recover was clumsily pulled back by Barry Laker. Referee Canadine, just six yards away pointed straight to the spot. Top scorer Clare stepped up in front of the City fans to send Westhead the wrong way.

Six minutes later City doubled their lead. Clair was sent through on the left, controlled the incoming cross well before beating his marker and drilling a blistering shot straight at Westhead from a narrow angle, the ball rebounded back out to Clare whose hard low cross was turned in by Brady from close range for his first goal in a Blues shirt.

Minutes later City had a glorious chance for a third as Sugden was put through thirty yards out. As he bore down on goal it seemed as if he would chip the advancing keeper but decided at the last minute to try and take it round him only to see the sprawling Westhead gather the ball at his feet.

Wright brought on three substitutes in the dying minutes as the game petered out. Not a classic performance by any means, but a big improvement on the previous three, though played in front of the lowest home league crowd of the season.

Carl Fielder-Shaw RIP Daryl opens the scoring Who's got the Milky Way Jon Brady celebrates

Saturday 19 April 2003
Nuneaton Borough 1 Chester City 0

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,371 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Joy.

Nuneaton Borough: McKenzie, Clifford, Love, Whittaker (B.Williams 60), Weatherstone, Angus, Barrick, M.Brown, Mansell, Brodie (McGregor 88), Murphy. Subs not used: Wheeler, D.Williams, Dyson.
Chester City:
Worsnop, McIntyre, Bolland, Guyett. Kelly, Carden, Davies, Joy (Blackburn 75), Brady (Twiss 66), Clare, Cameron (Sugden 56). Subs not used: Carey, Woodyatt.
Referee: S.Tanner (Bristol). 

Match ProgrammeThere may be some who said Chester City’s final run in would be easy… they should have thought again.

Games against clubs like Woking, Farnborough Town and Nuneaton Borough could all have been billed as Chester certainties, but all these clubs are in danger of relegation and all have demonstrated the need to play well to retain Football Conference status.

Nuneaton Borough put on a spirited performance against a sorrowful Chester side who failed to impress the travelling Chester faithful.

The first chance of the game went Nuneaton’s way following a crude challenge by Kevin McIntyre on ex-Chester player Michael Brown, but Stuart Whittaker sent the free-kick wide.

Daryl Clare came close to but Nuneaton keeper Chris McKenzie saved it.

It was all going Nuneaton’s way with them dominating possession, passing the ball around as though it was they who had got into the play-off and not there opponents, this confidence paid off when Guyett’s 11th minute own goal put them ahead initially the goal was awarded to former Chester team mate Brodie.

The second half picked up a little for Chester. Cameron was replaced by Sugden in the 55th, Twiss on for Brady in the 65th and Blackburn on for Joy in the 74th

No Wayne Brown today through injury and Worsnop replaced him making some fine saves. My man of the match: Ben Davies.

Kev Jones

City Fans Wayne's World Jon Brady Freezing Fans

Tuesday 15 April 2003
Chester City 0 Farnborough Town 2

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,869 Half Time 0-2
Booked: Brady, Clare.

Chester City: W.Brown, Woodyatt (Blackburn 46), Bolland, Guyett, McIntyre, Brady, Carey, Davies, Joy (Twiss 57), Clare, Sugden (Quayle 68). Subs not used: Cameron, Carden.
Farnborough Town:
Pennock, Piper, Vansittart, Lee, Taggart, Green (Potter 89), Piper, Patterson, Harkness, Charlery, Baptiste. Subs not used: Osborn (only two subs named).
Referee: R.Lewis (Shrewsbury). 

Match ProgrammeIf this season was a video, City fans could be forgiven for wishing they could fast-forward to the play offs now. With Chester safely ensconced in the end of season lottery, Mark Wright’s approach was to experiment. It was by no means a second fiddle City team that took the field against Farnborough – how could it be when there was still something at stake for the visitors? But there were quite radical changes to the team which snatched a point against Woking at the weekend.

In to the frame came Woodyatt, Carey and Brady along with Sugden in attack. And there was a debut for Ian Joy in the wide left midfield position. City began as they had finished on Saturday with a 4-4-2 formation.

Attacking the home end first half Chester began very brightly indeed and there seemed to be an immediate improvement on Saturday’s lacklustre display. The midfield seemed more mobile, Sudgen’s running lent an extra dimension up front and City passed the ball around effectively instead of from side to side.

Clare chased a ball wide on the left and crossed to the far post, Brady met it well but his header flashed just wide of the post. Clare and Brady combined again a few minutes later as Pennock spilled Daryl's direct free kick at the foot of the post. Brady got to the rebound first but Pennock recovered to block his shot bravely at the cost of a nasty cut across the eyebrow. From the corner Guyett powered a header narrowly over the top. It began to look good for City.

Their bubble was burst however when, Woodyatt, attempted to bring the ball away from his own penalty area. He overhit the ball and lost it to a Farnborough player who quickly fed Baptiste and the unmarked forward scored with ease. Not long later it was two-nil as one of the Pipers crossed from the left, Green headed back across the area to find Baptiste whose looping header sailed over Brown.

The stuffing seemed to have been knocked out of City after this. The closest they came to getting a goal back was when Joy let loose a long range shot which Pennock caught comfortably just under the bar.

After the break Blackburn emerged to replace Woodyatt. His long lay off due to injury has allowed him to grow his hair so long that he looks as though he should be a member of the band Oasis. He looked sharp from the word go and began to spark fresh life into City. They received a boost in the 56th minute when Lee, who had been booked in the first half for hauling down Sugden, clattered him again and was shown the red card along with his second yellow.

Ken Charlery, who had spent several minutes of the first half having a head wound bandaged, moved back into defence and tried to shackle Sugden. He too was booked for a foul on the lively forward.

City could not make their numerical advantage tell, despite all of Blackburn’s encouraging endeavour. Twiss came on for Joy (Well, he was pretty happy anyway. (Joke)) and he and McIntyre began to make inroads down the left. But for all their pressure Chester failed to create a clear cut chance or to test Pennock in the Farnborough goal. It looked as though Wright might pitch Cameron in to the fray against Farnborough’s towering defenders but instead he gave the nod to Quayle to replace Sugden.

Farnborough held firm. Their defenders out-muscled our attackers when the ball was played in to feet and, when City did get behind them, no one seemed able to deliver a killer pass. So the visitors, who only brought two substitutes, twenty-six supporters on the South Terrace and three mascots danced a jig of delight at gleaning three points towards Conference survival.

Wright must have been heartened by Blackburn’s second half performance but can have gained little comfort from much else in City’s performance. True, it was a game Chester didn't need to win but you would have thought that players would be fighting for a place in the line-ups for the games that really do matter.

Three more awkward games to go to complete the fixture list, then it all boils down to the play-offs. Two or three more games to determine whether this season will be judged a wonderful success or a disaster – there seems to be little in between the two extremes – if you are a football fan. So I’m just going to go along to Nuneaton to enjoy the game without worrying too much about the result, grateful to the players and management that at least we have a chance of getting back into the League. The play-offs will come soon enough.

Colin Mansley
Saturday 12 April 2003
Chester City 2 Woking 2

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,165 Half Time 0-1
Booked: None.  

Chester City: W.Brown, Ruffer, Bolland, Hatswell (Twiss 66), Guyett, McIntyre, Carden (Brady 82), Kelly, Davies, Clare, Beesley (Quayle 22). Subs not used: Carey, Joy.
Bayes, Townsend, Boardman, Collins, Campbell, Williams, Canham, Hamilton (Clark 90), Smith, Foyewa, Nade (Patmore 90). Subs not used: Tucker, Sharpling, Kember.
Referee: S.Proctor-Green (Rotherham).

Match ProgrammeGrown men prancing and cavorting up and down the terracing, punching the air with delight, bouncing off the walls with ecstatic abandon – such were the chaotic scenes on the North Terrace of the Deva in the last minute of this otherwise mediocre game. Easter came a week early as City rose from the dead against Woking to snatch the point that ensured a play off place.

Much of what had passed before will no doubt soon be consigned to memory’s dustbin. City were simply awful. Unable to string two passes together all afternoon, Chester were disjointed, lethargic and disorganised. They began with three at the back, with Ruffer coming into the centre of a five man midfield. Try as they might they couldn’t make headway against a hard-working and tightly marking visiting side. It’s a scenario that has been repeated often at the Deva this season and despite another change of formation, City could not adapt their game and get the ball up to the attackers quickly enough.

Beesley partnered Clare but was soon replaced by Quayle after a clattering tackle on the right wing. The Cards strike force of Nade and Foyewa caused plenty of problems with both their pace and strength. They combined on thirty minutes to give Woking the lead. Nade refused to be shaken off the ball and rolled it across the six yard box for Foyewa to hold off Hatswell and turn to force a powerful shot past Brown. Bleasdale ordered Ruffer back to right back as City reverted to 4-4-2. Still City barely mustered a shot and were booed off at half time.

Chester improved after the break. Ben Davies, never very happy out on the right, got more involved in the middle and started to get things going. Clare manufactured a cross out of nowhere which set up Quayle for a simple chance but he took his eye off the ball and missed it completely. Cue sardonic chants for Ryan Sugden (Sitting in the stand).

At the other end Woking threatened a number of times. Wayne Brown kept City in the game. First, when caught on the edge of his area, he raced back to scoop Canham’s speculative long shot off the line. Then he saved from Canham again, this time at close range. Thirdly he stretched full length to keep out Foyewa’s shot following a dazzling run in which Guyett ended up tied in knots.

As City strove for the equaliser Clare crossed for Quayle to head for the top corner. Bayes’ finger-tipped it away for a corner. McIntyre's kick then flashed across the goal and eluded everyone. It seemed City would never score.

As if to rub salt in the wound Woking went up the other end and Foyewa caught Guyett in possession and set off on another stunning run which ended with him flicking the ball past the advancing Brown and into the back of the net. It was unfortunate that Guyett had slipped but was still a classy finish from the forward on loan from Bournemouth.

Twiss had been introduced to try and lift a jaded City. Hatswell who had had a good game (And was awarded the man of the match) was sacrificed for him. McIntyre dropped to left back.

The crowd on the terraces and in the stands were thinning out. McIntyre took a corner on the right with three minutes to go and was greeted by virtual silence. Bayes let it slip through his fingers at the far post and Ruffer cracked it nonchalantly in to the roof of the net. It seemed no more than a consolation, especially when from the restart, Foyewa set off on the most spectacular of his solo runs which finished with him being up-ended in the penalty area. Foyewa declined the chance to complete his hat-trick from the penalty spot and, instead, up stepped number 24 Martin Williams. To our great delight he had clearly been studying at the Kevin Noteman school of penalty kicks because his effort sailed way over the bar.

City were given a new lease of life and came forward for one more attempt at goal. They won a free kick on the left. Guyett rose majestically to meet it. Quayle’s effort was blocked but the ball sat up nicely for Twiss to crash it into the back of the net. The wild delerium described above commenced. You would be forgiven for thinking that City had won the championship instead of scraping a point against a side threatened with relegation. Put it down to eighty seven minutes of sheer frustration which went before. Results elsewhere meant that the point salvaged was a precious one – Chester are now safely into the play offs. If there’s as much excitement to come in those as we witnessed in the last three minutes on Saturday – then they should be worth watching.

Colin Mansley

Saturday 12 April 2003
Chester City Youth 3 Lincoln City Youth 2

Merit League Division Two North

Chester City: Louie Macken, Paul Connolly (Adam Hunter), Ian Lathom, Danny Ventre, John Davies, Matty Cook, Adam Kelly, Michael Simpson, Dean Buckley, John Moore (Darren Jones), Peter Dogun (Lee Reece).

The youth team won 3-2 at home to Lincoln City on Saturday taking the lead through Paul Connolly. Lincoln levelled before half time and took the lead in the second half. However, Chester stole the points with two late strikes from Dean Buckley. 

Friday 11 April 2003
Barrow Reserves 3 Chester City Reserves 2
Lancashire League Division One

Chester City:
Jon Worsnop, Louis Potter, Paul Edwards, Darren Jones, Adam Hunter (Kyle Jones), Iain Jenkins (Steve Kinnear), Tony McLaughlin, Chris Blackburn, Danny Ventre (Tom Leonard), Danny Byrne, Sion Griffiths.

Chris Blackburn and Danny Byrne on target for the Blues who lose out to the odd goal in five.

Saturday 5 April 2003
Chester City Youth 2 Oldham Athletic Youth 3
Youth Merit League Division Two North

Chester City:
Louie Macken, Tom Coulson, John Davies (Lee Reece), Paul Connolly, Adam Kelly, Danny Ventre (Matt Cook), Mike Simpson, Peter Dogun, Ian Lathom, Dean Buckley (Tony McGlaughlin), John Moores.

The youth team lost 3-2 at home to Oldham on Saturday. Despite spending long periods of the game defending they led at half time scoring on the break with a neat finish from Dean Buckley. Oldham continued to have the upper hand and equalised early in the second half and took the lead midway through. They made it 3-1 with 20 minutes remaining. Mike Simpson then reduced the lead with a terrific 20 yard strike. Chester finished strongly looking for an equaliser, but the final whistle came too soon!

Saturday 5 April 2003
Gravesend & Northfleet 0 Chester City 1

Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 1,273 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Ruffer, McIntyre. Sent off: Quayle, Ruffer.

Gravesend & Northfleet:
Wilkerson, Lovett, Skinner (Standhart 82), Burton, Owen (Hatch 60), Jackson, McKimm, Kwashi, Wilkins, Bentley, Evans. Subs not used: Strouts, Turner, Pennock.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Ruffer, Bolland, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Kelly, Carey (Hatswell 60), Quayle, Beesley (Twiss 81), Carden. Subs not used: Joy, Cameron, Brady.
Referee: T.Kettle (Maidenhead).

Match ProgrammeSome things in life never cease to amaze us. A sunny and warm day for the second successive Saturday, making watching football quite a pleasure (no jokes about the tactics please!), and an eleventh away win of the season, which must be some sort of a club record. Gravesend turned into being one of the most pleasant grounds to visit, friendly and a nice little Stadium to match, with a good pitch, good view. It is very similar to some of the old league grounds we used to visit – Leyton Orient springs to mind.

However, never mind the niceties, shame about the refereeing performance. A certain referee, Mr. Kettle had the players boiling over (ha, ha!) with rage, due to his apparent inability to apply common sense to any situation. He turned the match into a farce by sending off two Chester players robbing us all of a fair contest, but somehow City showed extreme defensive qualities to hang on for a well deserved win. Surely the authorities have look into officials like these and the blame must lie in the hands of the FA. Still that is another debate.

The first half was an extremely forgettable affair. Gravesend, looking a big and strong outfit, and came out of the blocks quickly. As early as the fourth minute, Wayne Brown had to make a great save from Kwashi, who looked lively all afternoon, while City struggled to get a grip on the game, especially in midfield. Half time arrived, as we were contemplating a fully guided tour of the adjacent cement works to try and find some entertainment for the afternoon.

However we had no idea what drama the second half would bring. A great run by man of the match Beesley resulted in Carey heading straight at the Gravesend keeper, before Beesley scored a great solo goal, running from the halfway line, after being fed by Quayle. That was to be Quayles’ last meaningful contribution, as he was a victim of the Mr. Kettle show, being shown a red card for an alleged stamp. Only the referee will know! Gravesend responded with pressure on the Chester goal, with Ben Davies making a great goal-line clearance. Hatswell was brought on to shore up the defence, while my heart did not exactly sink when Gravesend danger man Hatch was introduced.

Things reached farcical proportions ten minutes from time, when Ruffer was sent off for a second bookable tackle, which was rather foolish of the player, given the referees track record. We then had the weird situation of City playing no forwards and running the clock down. The defence remained solid, and, in hindsight, held out fairly comfortably, much to the cheers of the travelling support.

After all this tension, the play-off’s should be a piece of cake!

Alan Parry-Jones

Goal We've won Blackie and Suggs look on

Friday 4 April 2003
Lancaster City Reserves 1 Chester City Reserves 0
Lancashire League Division One

Chester City:
Jon Worsnop, Lee Woodyatt, Giuseppe Angiletta (Steve Kinnear), Tony McLaughlin, Darren Jones, Iain Jenkins (Joe Amos), Adam Hunter (Louis Potter), Sion Griffiths, Danny Ventre, Danny Byrne, Paul Edwards.

Tuesday 1 April 2003
Stockport County Youth 0 Chester City Youth 0

Youth Merit League Division Two North

Chester City: Louie Macken, Tom Coulson (Peter Dogun), John Davies, Paul Connolly, Adam Kelly, Danny Ventre, Mike Simpson, Matt Cook, Ian Lathom, Dean Buckley, John Moores.

The youth team drew 0-0 away at Stockport on Tuesday. They had the better of the chances but were unable convert them and had to settle for a share of the points.
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