30 August 1997
Barnet 2 Chester City 1
Stockley, Harle, Heald (Goodhind 40), Howarth, Ford
(Mustafa 64), Mauuel (Onwere 64), Simpson, Charlery,
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins,
Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Richardson, McDonald, Flitcroft.,
Priest (Woods 76), subs; Thomas, Murphy.
Referee: A.G.Wiley (Burntwood)
goals in a minute a quarter of an hour from the end
brought City's first league defeat
of the season. City, who failed to force a single save
from the home 'keeper through the entire 90 minutes
took the lead through an own goal on the hour, Phil
Simpson (later named man of the match) heading in a
cross from Ross Davidson.
Barnet equalised from the penalty
spot after Spencer Whelan was caught pulling Ken Charlery's
shirt, Paul Wilson sending Ronnie Sinclair the wrong
way with the spot kick. A minute later, The Bees were
ahead. City's kick-off was hopelessly booted straight
into touch by Nick Richardson. Charlery broke on the
right slipped his man and Sean Devine picked up the
loose ball to fire Barnet's winner.
How much City miss Shaun Reid
was clear on this performance. One man doesn't make a
team, but there appears to be no leadership on the pitch
at all no midfield bite. Summer signing Rod Thomas
was axed from the starting line-up, while midfielder
Chris Priest played his first game since the play-off
defeat at Swansea.
August 1997 (Pontins
Chester City Reserves 1 Hull City Reserves
Chester City: Brown, Warrington,
Giles (McKay), Dobson, Woods, Ratcliffe, Milner, Priest (Clench),
Murphy, Jones, G.Shelton.
In an attempt to exorcise Saturday's first half
and Carlisle I attended tonight's Pontins League fixture v Hull
City. It didn't work so I fully expect to be at Scunthorpe next
Tuesday (Barnet not posssible otherwise I would be there too).
The really frightening thing about this match
was that there were only three players without first team experience
and we were soundly beaten. It was also worrying to see Ratcliffe
playing a sort of Libero/Centre Back role which I think disrupted
any sort of pattern. I can't imagine the thinking behind him playing
at all. It must mean that we simply don't have any centre backs
at the Club except Whelan and Alsford. Woods may make it, but he
really does look too slow and not secure enough in the air to be
an effective substitute for Whelan or Alsford.
Anyway, after taking a first half lead from an
Andy Milner header yes, an Andy Milner header!!! Chester
faded and fell to three well taken second half goals from Hull,
who grew in confidence as the game went on. Chris Priest came through
the game ok and John Murphy again looked quite effective without
Difficult to tell anything very much from this
scrappy game but I guess this is the standard pattern at this level.
I gather that Ryan Dobson is rated I hope he comes good
but he has a disturbing likeness to Brynley Jones which makes me
think he will not quite get there!
With about thirty people in attendance I could
not help thinking that more could be made of these games. Why charge £1
to get in? Why not let people in free, advertise it properly and
perhaps put on some Junior Blues penalty competitions or suchlike just
to get kids used to coming along to the Club?
Wayne Brown 6, Craig Warrington 5, Martin
Giles 5, Ryan Dobson 6, Matt Woods 6, Kevin Ratcliffe 5, Andy Milner
6, Chris Priest 5, John Murphy 7, Jon Jones 6, Gary Shelton 5. Subs:
Philip Clench 5 (for Priest 57), Matt McKay 5 (for Giles 80)
26 August 1997 (Coca
Cola Cup 1st Rd 2nd leg)
Carlisle United 3 v Chester City 0 (agg.
Carlisle 5 Chester 1)
Overall a dismal display. After a fairly bright
start easily having the best of the first 15 minutes and the home crowd
starting to get restless City conceded another soft goal. A corner which
really should have been Sinclair's was simply nodded in from a yard out.
This coming after Alsford had hit the bar with a good header. From then
on it was clear it was not to be our night.
The second Carlisle goal killed the game for even the
most optimistic City fan and it was just as soft as the first as centre
backs Whelan and Alsford both failed to pick up a run through the centre
and the ball was slotted past Sinclair.
From then on Carlisle took their foot off the gas as
they were clearly through and the game became a formality.
One point of interest was the substitution made by
Ratcliffe after 60 minutes: Richardson, Thomas and Bennett off for Woods,
Milner and Murphy.
Clutching at straws Murphy did at least win some balls
in the air and gave a tantalising hint that he might prove to be a useful
foil for Bennett or McDonald. But overall very disappointing and yet
again the midfield failed to tick. How we need Priest and Reid.
Sinclair 6, Davidson 5, Jenkins 5, Whelan 5,
Alsford 6, Fisher 6, Flitcroft 6, Richardson 5, Bennett 6, Thomas 6, McDonald
6, Subs: Milner 6, Woods 6, Murphy 7
23 August 1997
Chester City 1 Cambridge United 1
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson,
Jenkins, Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Richardson (Woods 73), Milner
(McDonald 65), Flitcroft, Thomas, sub Murphy.
Cambridge United: Barrett, Chenery, Wilson,
Marc Joseph, Foster, Campbell, Wanless (Taylor 71), Rees,
Kyd, Butler, Preece, subs Williamson, Matthew Joseph
Referee: S.J.Baines (Chesterfield)
A classic 'game of two halves'. In the first City could do nothing right,
it was the worst 45 minutes they've put together in a long time. They
fell behind to a smart goal from Michael Kyd who turned Julian Alsford
in the box and shot home after seven minutes. City had two chances to
equalise both falling to Gary Bennett. The first he headed over the bar
from a Neil Fisher corner, and then he was put through by Iain Jenkins
on 13 minutes but shot tamely at keeper Scott Barrett. Too many City
players were having a torrid first 45. Both full backs Jenkins and Davidson
could do nothing right and the midfield was non-existent. Only Julian
Alsford with some sterling work at the back and keeper Ronnie Sinclair
However the introduction of Rod McDonald for the ineffective
Andy Milner on 65 minutes changed things for City. He'd only been on
the pitch a couple of minutes when his superb pin-point right wing cross
was headed home at the far post by Gary Bennett. A few minutes earlier
City had claims for a penalty turned down when Bennett was held in the
box by Paul Wilson. City pressed forward for the winner and Rod McDonald
came closest when he hit the angle of post and crossbar with a fine curling
left foot shot. However City had keeper Sinclair to thank for the point
with a tremendous save from Ben Chenery with about 15 minutes left.
All in all a good second half fight back which earned
a point, though after a dreadful first half City deserved no more against
a well organised Cambridge team. Man of the match went to Gary Bennett
whose tireless running up front especially in the second half helped
create City's best openings.
Chester have only beaten Cambridge United once.
That win came back in 1970 the first time the two teams met when Chester
won 2-1 at Sealand Road.
12 August 1997 (Coca
Cola Cup 1st Rd 1st leg)
Chester City 1 Carlisle United 2
Chester City: Sinclair,
Davidson, Jenkins, Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Richardson,
Rimmer, Flitcroft (Milner 84), Thomas (Woods 67), sub Murphy.
Carlisle United: Caig, Delap, Archdeacon,
Walling, Varty, Thorpe, Barr, Proaks, Smart (Dobie 72),
Aspinall, Jansen, subs McAlindon, Milligan
Referee: Eddie Lomas (Eccles)
Looking on the bright side I think this was a useful test for the team.
Carlisle were infinitely better than Lincoln and on this performance
I would expect them to perform well this season. We were punished by
two clinical finishes and of course missed a penalty.
Rimmer was rightly named man of the match
as he battled all night and provided nice touches not
least winning the penalty. The main reason we were defeated
however was a very poor performance from the entire midfield.
You cannot expect to win when all four midfielders are below
par. Fisher was anonymous, Richardson invisible, Flitcroft
off the pace and Thomas very ineffective. There seemed to
be little shape to the midfield with Thomas drifting around
the pitch rather than stretching Carlisle on the left. Strangely
when he clearly has control and ability he seems unwilling
to take players on.
The forwards and defence worked hard but
without support they were unable to do more than hold Carlisle.
Woods came on for Thomas (a strange substitution but just
as it worked on Saturday it worked again) and scored a fine
volley inevitably from some good work on the right from Rimmer.
The ineffective Flitcroft was substituted
with three minutes to go by Milner. A move that should have
happened twenty minutes before (mind you, I thought the same
on Saturday and he scored one and made one!!!)
Sinclair 7, Davidson 6, Jenkins 6, Alsford
7, Whelan 7, Fisher 5, Richardson 5, Thomas 5, Flitcroft
5, Rimmer 8, Bennett 6
Let's hope that Chris Priest is fit
and in form we need him at his best. And the lack of
cover at the back is still a major concern. I would have thought
it unlikely that many if any teams in the third will prove
to be as strong as Carlisle and at 1-2 there is always the
faintest of chances that they will have an off night and we
could sneak it!
9 August 1997
Chester City 2 Lincoln City 0
Chester City: Sinclair,
Davidson, Jenkins, Fisher, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett (Murphy
90), Richardson, Rimmer, Flitcroft, Thomas (Woods 65). Sub
not used: Milner.
Lincoln City: Vaughan, Barnett, Whitney,
Hone, Holmes, Austin, Ainsworth, Miller, Stant, Thoroe,
Fleming. Subs not used: Brown, Stones, Robertson.
Referee: Andy Hall (Birmingham).
It was good to see a reasonable crowd for the game, especically when
it is holiday time. Ok it was still the second lowest in the division,
but there were moments when the atmosphere was good.
The game itself was hugely encouraging.
Difficult to tell too much from it as we might well find
Lincoln 20 points adrift at the bottom by Christmas (there
was little of merit in their display). But they did manage
to bring out what I would wager was the best save in the
League from Ronnie Sinclair it was positively 'Banksian'
as he dived low to his left to stop a powerful point blank
After a bright start Lincoln did manage
to break up Chester's play and the first half fizzled out.
It must be depressing to support Lincoln as their only tactic
seemed to be to hoof the ball into the air. Chester deserve
credit in keeping patience (despite some in the crowd who
seemed to want them to adopt Lincoln tactics) with playing
football. It did not always come off, but there was enough
exciting potential between Thomas, Bennett, Richardson and
occasionally Flitcroft, to think that once they develop their
understanding they could be very effective.
The sponsors Man of the Match was Alsford.
I personally didn't think he had more than a steady game
and my M.O.M. would have been Bennett. He had four very clear
chances before scoring and was a constant menace. His sheer
energy and obvious commitment was an inspiration and he was
'over the moon' to score.
My Highly subjective marks: Sinclair
8, Davidson 6, Jenkins 6, Alsford 7, Whelan 8, Flitcroft 6,
Fisher 6, Rimmer 6, Bennett 9, Thomas 7
The crowds filed away from the Deva
Stadium on Saturday happy in the knowledge that justice had
prevailed not only had Chester had won (which is usually
justice enough for me), they had deserved to win.Chester created
plenty of goal scoring opportunities, but as the game wore
on without a goal there was more sweating in the crowd than
on the field.
Lincoln's chances were, in the main, presented
to them by sloppy defending, with the entire back four of
Alsford, Whelan, Davidson and Jenkins all guilty of lapses
Unlike David Evans, I agreed (for once)
with the sponsors Man of the Match award going to Julian
Alsford, in my humble opinion, is one of
the best defenders in the 3rd Division in addition
to solid tackling, reasonable pace and aerial ability, his
distribution of the ball is superb.
If the defence did look a little shaky
at times on Saturday, it wasn't helped by Spencer Whelan's
attempts to emulate the passing abilities of his colleagues.
Spencer has strength and commitment, but when he has the
ball at his feet with time on his hands, my heart is in my
mouth and stomach is on the floor. If he could only play
to his strengths and just look for the simple ball every
time I may live a little longer !!!
However, in a funny sort of way we should
be thankful for the failings of some Chester players if
Flitcroft was half a yard faster and half a stone lighter,
he probably wouldn't be playing for Chester.
The return of Gary Bennett has added another
dimension to the Chester attack, his overall contribution
on Saturday was excellent. It was noticeable that the back
four looked to play the ball up directly to him, rather than
play endless balls across the pitch in the knowledge
that unlike Andy Milner he will attempt to win the ball in
the air. But rather than degenerating into a relentless long
ball tactic, this was merely providing another option.
Rod Thomas provided us with some blinding
pieces of skill, although he did spurn the chance of running
with the ball and attacking the Lincoln defence on a number
of occasions and laid it off instead which may be
down to his lack of match fitness.
However, all credit to the lads who
on an extremely hot day, plugged away and got the result
that they deserved.