Torquay fans who saw their side let in two 90th minute
home goals to Lincoln City the week before, must have
had a feeling of ‘deja vous’ when Roberto
Martinez cracked home an injury-time equaliser right in
front of the 217 travelling Chester fans.
point was no less than City deserved in a game which
most neutrals (including the vociferous bunch of stag
weekenders in the home end trying to wind up the Chester
fans) would have admitted deserved to have ended in
The main threat on either goal in
the first half came from Torquay’s diminutive
number seven, Jamie Ward. He out-foxed the Chester defence
on a couple of occasions and it was no surprise that
he was well-placed, with Jon Danby caught off his line,
to take a pass from ex-Plymouth forward Micky Evans
to make it 1-0 to the Gulls on the 43rd minute.
The closest Chester had to come scoring
at that stage was when Torquay defender Stev Angus chested
the ball back to ‘keeper Nathan Abbey. He wasn’t
expecting it, and dashed back to stop it crossing the
line. Otherwise, the only real glimmer of a City attempt
on goal came early on in the half with a Martinez free-kick,
but this was well cleared by the Torquay defence.
Chester ran out for the second half
in the bank holiday sunshine, with the away fans expecting
to see a goal at their end – isn’t that
what always happens at Torquay? And right on cue, Abbey
and Angus got themselves in another mix-up. The ball
looped over Angus’s head, with second-half substitute
Drewe Broughton following it and easily slotting it
home in front of the delighted City followers.
City were now playing with more determination,
and Torquay manager Ian Atkins made a couple of substitutions
half-way through the second half to try to turn the
match back in their favour. Soon after the changes,
Micky Evans and Jamie Ward combined well again, with
Ward giving Dave Artell the slip to make it 2-1 to the
Lively Ward, who had a chance to make
it a hat-trick, was rightly voted Torquay man-of-the-match
just before the fourth official put up the board indicating
three minutes of injury time. But City, with Chris Holroyd
having replaced Jon Walters on the 78th minute, continued
And just went Torquay had every chance
to keep possession until the final whistle, they gave
it away cheaply. The ball came to Broughton on the edge
of the area and he passed to Martinez. He aimed a perfect
shot right in the top corner to send the City fans wild
Moments later, there was even
a chance for Holroyd to make it a perfect 3-2 result
– but his shot only found the side-netting. Still,
it was a point much appreciated by the travelling fans,
and for many, just part of a glorious weekend savouring
the delights of Devon.
Report and pictures:
22 August Leeds United 1 Chester City
Carling Cup Round 1
Attendance: 10,013 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Linwood, Westwood, Martinez, Holroyd.
1,000 Blues fans travelled across the Pennines in the
hope of seeing today’s Chester team emulate their
1970s League Cup heroes when City famously beat Don Revie’s
League champion side 3-0 before reaching the Cup semi-final.
History wasn’t to recreate itself however, and although
City put up a spirited fight, they lost 1-0 to a scrappy
Eirik Bakke goal – his first in more than two
The game opened with Leeds including
nine of the players who featured in their last match
(a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Cardiff), so it was immediately
clear they were keen to win the tie.
Chester, making one change from the
team which was defeated by Wrexham just two days before
– Drewe Broughton being added and Ricky Ravenhill
being suspended – had to soak up a lot of early
pressure as the team seemed to find their feet on the
big Elland Road pitch.
But City’s Laurence Wilson and
Dave Artell had no problem adjusting to the big stage
and had the measure of every on-rushing attack and cross
into the box. ‘Keeper Jon Danby was actually barely
troubled for the first 15 minutes as Wilson and Artell
kept Leeds at bay.
Chester had a couple of forays forward
in the first half hour, but were either caught offside
or tackled before they could pose a real threat. They
won a corner, but referee Andy D’Urso blew for
a foul in the box. Leeds had several corners during
the first half, but each were well dealt with by the
Chester defenders – encouraged by the ‘blue
army’ behind the goal.
The first half ended with no real
threat from either side, and City fans feeling relatively
proud that they’d held a big Championship club
to a 0-0 scoreline for 45 minutes. Perhaps the ‘blue
army’ – with chairman Stephen Vaughan sitting
amongst them behind the goal - would see the winner
netted right in front of them in the second half?
Sadly it was not to be, but the game
was not without some consolation for the City faithful.
The Bakke goal was simply unlucky after the ball pinballed
around the box, and just crossed the line. If it wasn’t
for the almost instant big screen replay, we’d
have still been talking now about if the ball had crossed
the line…..but I’m afraid it did.
Leeds keeper Neil Sullivan had been
barracked by a few of the City fans and took great delight
in celebrating the goal in front of them. The goal also
seemed to fire on the rest of his team and it looked
likely another would follow.
But Chester kept Leeds out, and had
a chance to score themselves when Ashley Westwood had
a good heading chance from a Roberto Martinez free-kick.
But Sullivan had the measure of it and the chance was
Chester’s best chance of the
night fell to Gregg Blundell who found himself in space
and with some time to score past Sullivan. But his shot
went wide and Broughton was some yards of catching up
with it to make a connection.
City manager Mark Wright took off
Broughton on the 72nd minute and replaced him with Chris
Holroyd, who immediately ran fearlessly at the Leeds
defenders. A handful of City fans continued to wind
up Sullivan and he made himself more unpopular when
he made a real meal of a fair challenge from young Holroyd.
Soon after, one of the funniest moments of the evening
came when a City fan had to throw the ball back to Sullivan,
and deliberately chucked it back like a rocket!
Paul Rutherford replaced Martinez
on the 82nd minute and also looked lively from the start.
At this stage there was always the chance that City
just might snatch an equaliser. During the three minutes
of added time, Rutherford took a City corner. But it
sailed over everyone and went out for a goal kick. It
was a bit like City’s performance all night –
close, but not quite close enough.
The City fans came out to the
news that several League Two clubs had triumphed over
Championship opposition. It wasn’t to be our night
though – we’ll just have to wait for the
Report: Sue Choularton
20 August Chester City 1 Wrexham
Attendance: 4,206 Half Time 0-1
suffered their second successive League Two defeat as arch-rivals Wrexham
took all three points at Deva Stadium. Manager Mark Wright made two changes
from the side that lost at Edgar Street last week. Ricky Ravenhill replaced
the injured ex-Wrexham player Dean Bennett and Gregg Blundell started ahead
of Drewe Broughton. There was also a place on the bench for goalkeeper Phil
Palethorpe, signed from Tranere Rovers in the week.
City started brightly
forcing three corners in the opening seven
minutes, Roberto Martinez delivering the flag-kick’s
that were dealt with by the Wrexham defence.
Twelve minutes in an
the City defence was in action for the first
time. Stephen Vaughan blocked a Matt Done centre
for a corner and Steve Evans out jumped the
City defence to head wide from six yards.
The game turned on a controversial
moment midway through the half. Ravenhill chased
a long through ball, Michael Ingham raced out
of goal and chested the ball away before collecting
it on the edge of the box before Ravenhill clattered
through. Referee Rennie immediately produced
a red card, with many home fans thinking it was
for the Northern Ireland ‘keeper for handling
the ball outside of the area, only to see the
City defender take the long walk.
Wrexham took advantage of the
extra man to come more into the game. Ashley
Westwood was on hand to clear a dangerous Simon
Spender cross, Danny Williams shot wide from
20 yards and Spender went close with another
long range effort.
The visitors took the lead
five minutes before the break. Captain vaughan
lunged in on Done and Rennie had no hesitation
in pointing to the penalty spot. Neil Roberts
slotted the penalty home go give Wrexham the
Manager Mark Wright replaced
Westwood with Simon Marples at the break. Spender
and Chris Llewellyn both went close before City
fell two behind on 51 minutes with Mark Jones
lobbing the ball past Danby after slipping the
City appealed for a penalty
six minutes later with a right wing cross being
handled in the area but Rennie turned down the
strong claim and awarded a free-kick to Wrexham
Numerical parity was restored
as Steve Evans picked up a second yellow card
to join Ravenhill in the dressing room. This
gave City some impetus. Gregg Blundell saw a
shot parried away by Ingham before Wright introduced
a new strikeforce of Broughton and youngster
Chris Holroyd, making his league debut, at the
expense of Blundell and ex-red Jon Walters.
Holroyd was soon causing problems
as City pressed in the final quarter. Nine minutes
from time Jamie hand shot through a mass of players
from the edge of the box to give City hope. The
Blues piled forward, Holroyd and Broughton both
saw efforts missed but the best chance fell to
Paul Linwood who saw a shot cleared off the line
deep deep into added time.
13 August Accrington Stanley U18
1 Chester City U18 4
Puma Youth Alliance North West Conference
Half Time 1-2
City started the season with a convincing away victory against
The game started with Chester pushing
forward and causing the Accrington defence numerous
problems. It was no surprise when City took the lead
on 14 minutes with a goal from Paul McManus who put
the ball into the net after the Stanley keeper had
parried a Jay Gregory shot. Chester continued keep
the Accrington defence at full stretch and a second
goal was added when the keeper failed to collect a
free kick from Neil Carroll and Jack Rowlands was on
hand to steer the ball into the net.
the majority of possession Chester failed to add to
their tally and paid the price for casual play in the
centre of the field when Accrington scored from a free
kick on the edge of the box just before half time.
The second half saw Chester continue with their attacking play but the Accrington
defence held firm until a swift break through the centre of the park resulted
in Gregory being brought down in the box and Sean Newton converting the spot
kick. Five minutes later an Accrington defender was dismissed for a moment
of madness when he kicked out at Chester skipper Kevin Roberts in front of
the referee. The remaining 20 minutes saw Chester camped in the Accrington
half and it was only poor decision making in the last third of the pitch that
allowed Stanley to escape with only one goal against them, scored by Carroll.
The 4-1 scoreline flattered Accrington
and the Chester players were left in no doubt as to the
feelings of the coaching staff. However,
this was City’s first opening match win since 2001/02 and sometimes the
points are of more value. Overall, a good opening result and the watching Wigan
staff will have made a few notes ready for the match against Chester City U18’s
13 August Hereford United 2 Chester
Attendance: 3,834 Half Time 0-0
unbeaten start to the season came to an end at Edgar Street as two second half
defensive lapses handed the points to the Bulls from a game that had a 0-0 scoreline
written all over it until to those late mistakes.
The Blues remained unchanged
for the third successive match.
Stuart Fleetwood showed promises
of what was to come as he raced down the right
on ten minutes shaking off two defenders before
crossing for Williams who saw his header cleared
by the back-peddling Jamie Hand.
At the other end the City fans,
those who could glimpse the action past the numerous
pillars holding up the Edgar Street stand, saw
Drewe Broughton head wide following a cross by
Stephen Vaughan, and Hand shoot over following
a Roberto Martinez corner.
David Artell was well placed
to clear for City after ‘keeper John Danby
failed to deal with an outswinging corner only
for the ball to be turned goalwards by Tim Sills.
Before the instantly-forgettable
first half came to an end both hand and Dean Bennett
had good chances to break the deadlock but the
home defence coped well on both occasions.
A minute after the restart City
were forced to make a change with Ricky Ravenhill
replacing Bennett who was suffering from a back
Just after the hour Mark Wright
was forced into another substitution as Broughton
retired after a clash of heads, with the striker’s
departure City’s attacking options were limited
in the extreme though his replacement Gregg Blundell
did manage a couple of efforts on goal.
With 20 minutes remaining the
Blues lost the ball in midfield, it was quickly
flicked forward towards Whittaker, both Paul Linwood
and Ashley Westwood hesitated then misjudged the
bounce to allow the striker to show them a clean
pair of heels as he swept through on goal to beat
the exposed Danby with a left foot shot.
A couple of minute’s later
City found themselves two down. Again Whittaker,
whose pace had caused problems for the City back
line all day, was allowed too much space in midfield;
he broke forward leaving three City players trailing
before slotting the ball between two others to
Richard Rose on the right wing. He took the ball
wide in the area before clipping a shot over the
advancing Danby and past the despairing dive of
Westwood on the goal line.
There was no way back for
City from here. Simon Marples replaced Vaughan
but it was the home side that created the better
of what chances there were with Simon Travis
shooting inches just over the bar from the best
of them eight minutes from time.
8 August Bury 1 Chester City 3
Attendance: 2,719 Half Time 1-1
A robust and eventually exhilarating team performance earned City a second
successive win to get this season’s campaign off to a flying start.
Chester’s no-nonsense approach was epitomised in the first minute when
Ashley Westwood slid in to tackle Bishop emphatically. The game began at
pace on a surface made slippery by heavy rain. It was City’s midfield that
the eye – Bennett, Hand and above all Martinez allowing Bury no room
for manoeuvre. breaking up play and setting up attacking moves. The experienced
was the pick of a good bunch, getting moves going with deft control and imaginative
Wilson also looked a threat down the left. His shot fizzed across goal after
Fettis had parried one from Walters. Next his persistence won a corner on
the right which he delivered and resulted in City taking the lead. Martinez’ shot
took a deflection of Colin Woodthorpe’s knee into the roof of the net.
Chester were worth the lead and seemed in little danger of surrendering it
half time beckoned. Bury’s new American loan star – John Paul Pittman – latched
on to a loose ball, twisted and turned past Artell and unleashed a shot which
squirmed and skidded past Danby into the corner of the net. Pittman executed
an exuberant jack knife and the hosts were level.
Shortly after the break City forged ahead again with a goal resulting from
a comedy of errors of Keystone Cops proportions. Walters capitalised on hesitancy
between Fettis and a defender to carve an open goal opportunity. The shot was
scuffed, however, and then deflected towards goal by the defender. As it trickled
towards the line Fettis seemed favourite to retrieve it until Walters slid
in to ram the ball home.
There then followed a patch of play in which City went rampant but failed
to increase the lead. First Fettis tipped Broughton’s header over the
then did the same to Artell’s thunderbolt. Time and again City got
behind Bury’s defences only to misplace a pass or cross. Bennett twice,
all saw fast and furious low crosses cut out by the energetic Fettis.
The longer the dominance went on the more uneasy we became about a Bury sucker
punch. Pugh cut in from the right and shot fiercely for the goal but Danby
knocked it superbly round the post for a corner. Lack of concentration nearly
cost City in the closing minutes when the ball almost crept between defender
and keeper until Danby conceded another corner. City cleared quickly and Wilson
ran free on the right. He passed into a posse of City players looking to finish.
Walters claimed it, sidestepped two defenders and lashed a shot into the top
corner. The jubilant celebrations were no less than his tireless performance
There was just time to stop off in nearby Radcliffe on the journey home to
enjoy a pint of Holt’s extremely bitter bitter in the Papermakers Arms
while contemplating the ruins of the completely flattened East Lancs Paper
across the street. City had completed a similarly thorough demolition job
Report and pictures: Colin
5 August Chester City 2 Accington Stanley
Attendance: 3,779 (824 Accrington) Half Time 1-0
Booked: Martinez, Artell, Vaughan, Hand.
Chester City: Danby, S.Vaughan (Marples 83),
Linwood, Westwood, Artell, Bennett, Martinez (McSporran
70), Hand, Wilson, Broughton (Blundell 57), Walters. Subs
not used: Allen, Rutherford. Accrington Stanley: Dunbavin, Cavanagh,
Richardson, Williams, Welch, Proctor (Harris 75), Doherty
(Todd 15), Craney, Boco, Mullin (Mangan 62), Robert. Subs
not used: Brown, Edwards. Referee: P.Dowd (Staffordshire).
Accrington, but Chester threw away the script that said
you’d mark your return to the Football League after
a 44-year absence with a victory, or at least a consolation
goal, in your opening fixture.
truth is that although 95% of the cameras at the ground
were focussed on Stanley, it was Chester who deserved
the attention after a workmanlike performance earned
them a 2-0 victory and a comfortable start to the season.
It might have been nice if Accrington’s
comeback had been marked by them kicking off the action.
But that honour fell to a Chester and the ball was hoofed
forward towards the corner in age-old Harry McNally
The ball then stayed in that half
for much of the opening spell – giving Accrington
an immediate lesson that it’s not going to be
quite so easy to pick up points in League Two as it
was in the last season’s Conference.
I have to confess that, not having
been to any of the friendlies, nor being able to buy
a programme (people had been seen buying them by the
armful), I wasn’t always able to work out who
was who from our vast assembly of new players. The names
and numbers on our striped shirts have never exactly
been an aide to identity either.
Two of Chester’s nine debutants
had shots on or around the goal inside the first 10
minutes. Accrington did win a corner soon after, but
new City goalkeeper John Danby confidently punched it
It was then Chester’s turn to
have a corner on 15 minutes, and another new boy, Lawrence
Wilson, stepped up to take it. It’s going to take
me a while to forget we’ve not got Ben Davies
around for corners any more – but not too long
if Wilson’s corners are always that good. Former
Rushden and Diamonds striker Drewe Broughton rose majestically
to claim City’s opening goal of the season after
heading the ball down powerfully across the line from
It seems years since we’ve had
a tall and powerful centre forward like Broughton and
he was easily identifiable from the off by his two tennis-style
wristbands! Later in the game he proved himself to be
more than just a big target man, and I wasn’t
the only one who was surprised when manager Mark Wright
substituted him on the 57th minute.
Wright was joined on the management
bench by former City hero Graham Barrow, now assistant
manager. He may be showing signs of age, but he’s
still a legend and waved to the home terrace when his
name was chanted. I sat near the dugout for the second
half and was pleased to see him and Wright seeming to
work well together. At one stage Wright even calmed
Barrow down when he was getting touchy with the fussy
The first half had ended with Accrington
barely having had a sniff at goal, but they started
the second in brighter fashion, with another attempt
on Danby’s goal. He easily dealt with that, and
Broughton was soon at the other end attempting to lob
Stanley ‘keeper Ian Dunbavin.
The match was getting a bit tetchy
and Premiership referee Phil Dowd, who booked another
of Chester’s new signings, Roberto Martinez in
the first half, booked David Artell, captain Stephen
Vaughan and debutant Jamie Hand in the second half.
Accrington’s Robert Williams also received a yellow
Gregg Blundell replaced Broughton
and immediately seemed determined to prove a point –
chasing every ball and harrying the nervous-looking
Accrington defenders. Jermaine McSporran, signed from
Doncaster, replaced Martinez on the 70th minute. The
Spaniard earned a hearty round of applause after making
a solid midfield debut.
Vaughan, who in all honesty didn’t
really give a captain’s performance – making
too many mistakes and not really talking to his team-mates
- was substituted by the experienced Simon Marples,
another signing from Doncaster. That substitution
on the 83rd minute, not long after Vaughan received
Marples immediately looked a more
convincing defender than Vaughan and seemed glad to
get his opportunity. Another player relieved at getting
his chance, Blundell, certainly made the most of it
when he invited a defender’s tackle in the box
and earned himself a penalty. He took the spot-kick
well and clearly showed his relief at scoring to make
it 2-0 to City on the 85th minute.
There was then no way back for
Stanley, not even a chance of a consolation goal. The
camera crews starting packing up and the Accrington
fans started drifting home. Welcome back to the Football
League and thanks for the three points.