Saturday 29 August 1998
Southend United 0 Chester
Southend United: Margetson,
Hails, Stimson (Jones 72), Morley, Newman, Roget, Maher,
Beard (Gooding 75), Burns, De Souza, Clarke (Whyte
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross, Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Bennett, Priest, Murphy, Flitcroft (A.Shelton
83), Smith. Subs not used: Thomas, Wright.
Referee: W.M.Jordon (Tring).
There was no hiding the delight in
Gary Bennett when he'd scored his first goal for nine
months to give City their first league win if the season.
They also have 'keeper Wayne Brown to thank for keeping
their first clean sheet too, as City's defence rode
their luck to pull off this shock win. Around 100 City
fans made the trip to Roots Hall and once again the
atmosphere in the away end was given a boost by the
two drummers, who hardly stopped all match.
Bennett's winner came fifteen minutes
from time. His overhit cross from the right wing was
rescued by Alex Smith. He jinked past two defenders
before sending in a teasing low cross into the box.
Murphy missed his chance but Bennett was on hand at
the far post to drill the ball past home 'keeper Margetson.
John Murphy was guilty of missing a golden chance to
seal the lead (and prevent a heart stopping finale)
but he headed tamely at the 'keeper from eight yards
The first half was a drab affair
with the home side having the only real chances of
note. Brown pulled of a couple of flying saves, one
notably from Burns, and United went close with two
long range efforts that shaved the post. The game was
stopped too often though by an over zealous referee
who never allowed the game to flow.
After the break City game more into
the game and had a lot more of the possession without
really creating any clear cut chances; Smith was sent
clean through though by Bennett but his shot was smothered
by Margetson who came rushing out to narrow the angle.
Southend were guilty of several misses,
the most glaring that from eight yards out by Burns
who shot wide a minute before Bennett's strike, and
once again Wayne Brown made a goal line clearance with
his leg as the City goal was peppered, as was the clock
above it, that was moved back 10 minutes by one wayward
Striker Bennett said after the
game: "It's so long since I last scored that I didn't
know what to do. I think I started the move and tried
to find Alex Smith with a far post cross. I got too much
on it but Alex worked a little bit of magic and I think
their keeper palmed it out. There were a few people in
the box and I knew I had to hit it hard and it was great
to see it go in. It should do my confidence the world
of good and scoring goals is all about confidence. But
the most important thing was winning. If we'd have lost
we'd have been bottom and we didn't want that."
Sunday 23 August 1998
Chester City 2 Hull City 2
Chester City: Brown, Davidson,
Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Bennett (Thomas 73), Priest,
Murphy, Flitcroft, Smith. Subs not used: A.Shelton, Wright.
Hull City: Wilson, Greaves, Edwards, Hocking,
Whitworth, Howei, Peacock, McGinty, Brown (Morley 90), D'Auria
(Ellington 87), Mann (Hateley 63).
Referee: Kevin Hill (Royston).
This game will be remembered for one person alone.
referee Kevin Hill. The Royston official sent off two players,
booked nine, awarded four penalties and managed to annoy both sets
of players and fans. "I can't really accept displays like
that from referees but I won't be marking him low. I'll be giving
him 10 out of 10; and then we won't have him here again. He'll
be in the Premiership" added City manager Kevin Ratcliffe.
City's best play came from the left with Alex
Smith again having an outstanding game. Smith was the first to
hit the target after just two minutes following fine work by Bennett,
the wingers strike being deflected for a corner. City took the
lead through a Flitcroft penalty on 32 minutes. Jonathan Cross's
free-kick was handled by Hocking and Flicker converted the spot
kick. However City let the Tigers back into the game and Brown
headed home the equaliser after Wayne Brown had flapped at a corner.
Right on half-time City had a great chance to
regain the lead. Bennett headed back a superb Flitcroft cross for
Smith to fire in a shot. Greaves handled the ball on the line and
was promptly red-carded. However Flitcroft once again stepped up
for the penalty but screwed his shot wide.
The Blues did take the lead however on 59 minutes.
Once again it was a Flitcroft cross, this time from a corner, that
caused problems for the Hull defence and Andy Crosby stepped up
to power home a header for his first goal for the club.
Hull player manger Mark Hateley brought himself
on was immediately in the action. Wayne Brown failed to hold a
shot from the veteran striker and Ross Davidson was forced to haul
down Hull's Brown before he could tap home the rebound. Off went
Davidson and Wayne redeemed himself with a good save from the resulting
However the equaliser came with two minutes
to go and once again it came from the spot. Crosby pushed Hateley
in the box after Chester had been caught on the break and the manager
lashed home the kick past Brown.
18 August 1998 (Worthington League
Cup Round 1, 2nd Leg)
Chester City 2 Port Vale 2 (City
win 4-3 on aggregate)
Chester City: Brown, Davidson,
Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Bennett (Thomas, 88), Priest,
Murphy, Flitcroft, Smith. Subs not used: Cutler, Wright, A. Shelton,
Port Vale: Musslewhite, Carragher, Tankard,
Bogie, Walsh, Snijders, Ainsworth, Talbot, Beadle (Foyle 31),
Naylor, Corden 6 (McGlinchey 70). Subs not used: Pilkington,
Referee: W Burns (Scarborough).
An emotional night at the Deva last night as
City deservedly progressed to the second round of the Worthington
Cup. Before the game, Mark Howell, chairman of the ISA gave the
players their travelling expenses for the week. It was a gesture
of solidarity and appreciation of the way that they continue to
perform professionally despite their wages not being paid on time.
In response, the players came on to the pitch
to the tune "Simply the best" and came over to
applaud the home faithful for their efforts. It was quite touching
and something I haven't seen at Chester for many years.
Chester dominated the first half with Vale looking
dangerous on the break. Ainsworth in particular looked in top form
and Cross was booked for bringing him down. City's movement off
the ball was good and competition in midfield seemed to have upped
a gear from the last home match against Orient. Smith had another
sparkling game on the left, holding the ball up well and using
it effectively. But it was Vale who took the lead. Brown came for
a rather aimless lob forward, which he had no chance of getting
and made it a simple task for Naylor to nip in and glance a header
over him into the empty net. Chester pressed hard for an equaliser,
the closest thing came when a shot from Flitcroft, screaming towards
the top corner was brilliantly tipped round the post by Paul Musselwhite
(The dozy referee gave a goal kick). Bennett was looking more like
his old mean self and really put the wind up Musselwhite when he
bore down upon him and almost took a clearance off his toes.
At half time the ISA took the bucket round to
raise money for their fighting fund towards the players' expenses.
Incredibly, it seems, Chester fans coughed up to the tune of £1,150 a
brilliant show of support.
City got their equaliser seven minutes in to
the second half. A superb goal. Richardson got through down the
left and put in a cross to the far post. Smith was there first
to send a glancing header low into the net. Still City kept looking
for more goals but Vale too were beginning to wake up. Foyle thought
he had scored Vale's second when he headed in form the six yard
box but was given offside and booked for his protest. Then the
visitors scored a valid goal when City failed to clear a corner
and Brown's save from Ainsworth's shot fell into the path of Naylor,
who tapped it in.
Just for a while City heads seemed to go down,
it was a sloppy goal to concede. But then they came driving forward
again. Flitcroft flicked a good ball out to Davidson and from the
resulting cross City scored again. Smith at the far post was looking
second best to meet the cross at the far post but Snijders felt
the pressure and headed the ball from an acute angle into the top
corner of his own net. You couldn't help feeling sorry for the
bloke very embarrassing for him and in front of his own
fans. But it was enough to take City through.
Rod Thomas came on for the last few minutes to
replace Bennett but he joined him in the bath earlier than anyone
anticipated when he made a reckless tackle on Allen Tankard and
was red carded. A Vale fan was so incensed he ran on the pitch
and was duly dealt with. It was right in the far corner from me
but looked a rather nasty incident all round.
Once again at the end the players came over
to thank the home fans for their support at the end of a pulsating
match. Who do you fancy in the next round?
15 August 1998
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Chester City
Brighton & Hove Albion: Walton,
Smith, Tuck, Minton, Johnson (Thomas 32), Allan, Storer, Mayo (Westcott
45), Moralee, Hart (Barker 57), Bennett.
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross, Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Bennett (Thomas 76),
Smith. Subs not used, A.Shelton, Wright.
Referee: A.Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).
A case of what might have been. City were in
complete control and heading for their first-ever win at Brighton
until a couple of defensive errors let in the home side for a share
of the points. It's to City's credit that after a week of non-payment/training
they should take the game to the Seagulls right from the start
taking the lead after only 19 seconds. Chris Priest fed the ball
to Dave Flitcroft on the right wing, his first-time cross, following
an eight-man City move was headed home in spectacular style by
man of the match Alex Smith his first goal for the club.
Chester were well on top in the opening stages
allowing the home side only a couple of half-chances which Brown
dealt with comfortably. A diving header from Storer just before
the break though almost levelled matters but the Blues reached
half-time with a deserved lead.
Gary Bennett had a great chance to increase City's lead after the break
but he shot tamely at 'keeper Walton after the ball had rebounded to
him ten yards from goal. After 61 minutes Albion defender Tuck needlessly
handled Gary Bennett's header from an Alex Smith cross and the referee
pointed to the spot. Flitcroft duly converted the kick with power and
Chester were two-up and looking comfortable for that first-ever victory
Eight minutes on however, unmarked Albion substitute
Barker pulled a goal back with a far post header, and three minutes
later the home side were level with a crazy own goal from Matt
Woods. Moralee lobbed the ball towards the City box but the back-peddling
Woods headed over the advancing Wayne Brown into an empty net.
With 14 minutes left, Rod Thomas replaced
Gary Bennett and added an extra dimension to the City attack. Chester
almost grabbed a winner in injury time but Crosby's shot agonisingly
came off a post in a goalline melee, it just wasn't going to be our
day. Though City should have taken all three points, we'd have settled
for a draw before the game, and given the off-field traumas at the
club the players showed remarkable professionalism throughout.
11 August 1998 (Worthington League
Cup Round 1, 1st Leg)
Port Vale 1 Chester City 2
Port Vale: Musselwhite, Carragher
(Walsh 71), Tankard, Bogie (Koordes 78), Aspin, Snijders, Ainsworth,
Talbot, Beadle (Naylor 71), Foyle, Jansson, Subs not used: McGlinchey,
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross, Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Beckett (Bennett 47),
Smith. Subs not used, A.Shelton, Wright, Cutler, J.Jones.
Referee: E Wolstenholme (Blackburn).
A couple of preliminaries. The first pub I stopped
at in Longport had a print of Foregate Street hanging up in the
bar good omen I thought. Then, the Vine, near the ground
had Weetwood Eastgate Bitter on too good to be true. At
Vale Park the good news was that they had dropped the price of
admission from £15 to £6 (Discount for sitting under
the Sealand Road roof?), the bad news it cost £4 to
park the car.
sit back City fans and read about a great victory for the Blues or
should we say Clarets? City stepped out in their new away kit at
Vale Park they looked like Heart of Midlothian and certainly
played with plenty of heart and passion.
Ratcliffe picked the same eleven that caved in
so abjectly last Saturday but the difference in performance was
Vale came forward and seemed to find plenty of
space as they did so it only seemed a matter of time before
they took the lead. One shot flashed across the goal and then Foyle
just failed to connect with a cross at the far post.
City attacked as well, with Smith once again
proving a tricky customer on the left. They forced a few corners
and from one on the left they took the lead. Flitcroft (pic left)
swung it over to the far post where Beckett, having lost his marker,
headed in. Four minutes later it was delerium as Davidson crossed
from the right, Carragher made a right hash of his clearance and
put the ball into the path of Beckett who turned (like Jesse James
of old) and put the ball just inside the post for 2-0.
The home side might have pulled one back just
on half time but Ainsworth took the ball off Foyle's head when
he looked certain to score.
After the break Beckett limped off after only
two minutes. As substitute Bennett was running on, Vale broke down
the right, the ball was swept right across the area, Brown came
out but was beaten as the ball was knocked back in and Ainsworth
finished to make it 1-2.
City held on fairly comfortably to keep this
Worthington Cup tie very much alive for the return leg at the Deva.
Indeed, it looked as though Benno had made it 3-1 with just six
minutes to go, stabbing the ball in at the far post from Smith's
cross, but he was given marginally offside.
At least Vale fans had something to cheer every
time Macclesfield scored against Stoke the electronic scoreboard
let them know. We were also aware of a superb Halifax victory at
the Racecourse. I didn't quite have the confidence to chant with
the others "Out with the Wrexham, you're going out with the
Wrexham" but who knows, after tonight's result?
8 August 1998
Chester City 0 Leyton Orient 2
Chester City: Brown, Davidson,
Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft (Bennett 69), Priest,
Murphy, Beckett, Smith. Subs not used, A.Shelton, Wright.
Leyton Orient: MacKenzie, Walschaerts, Lockwood,
Smith, Hicks, Clark, Ling, Ampadu, Richards (Harris 65), Maskell,
Martin (Reinelt 52), Sub not used, Raynor.
Referee: S.Baines (Chesterfield).
It took just forty five minutes for the pre-season
optimism at the Deva to evaporate. That was when Orient striker
Tony Richards intercepted a wayward pass in the centre circle and
started towards goal. Either Woods or Crosby looked certain to
get a tackle in but both were outmanouevred and made to look very
ponderous. Richards left them in his wake and side footed the ball
past Brown from the edge of the area. Maybe City's central defenders
were afraid to commit themselves in fear of being shown the red
Fifteen minutes earlier this had been the fate
of Dean Smith, rather harshly sent off by Steve Baines for a clumsy
challenge on Murphy when through on goal.
The first half had been a cagey affair with chances
few and far between. City's best opportunity fell to Priest after
good work by Smith and Murphy but a last ditch tackle saved the
day for the visitors.
In the second half the very least we demanded
was an onslaught by the Blues, making use of their extra man and
laying seige to the plucky Orient defence. Instead City were pathetic.
They were unable to step up the pace or vary their pattern of play
at all. Ideas in the last third of the pitch were lacking. Bennett
came on to replace the largely ineffective Flitcroft. Thomas's
skill and invention on the right were sorely missed.
Incredibly Orient dominated the match and it
was they who seemed to have the spare man. Their second goal was
a sucker punch as well as a killer blow as far as City's hopes
of a good start to the season went. Crosby back headed an innocuous
punt back to Brown but left it short and the goalie's hesitation
made it simple for Jason Harris to take the ball off his toes and
stroke it into the empty net.
Chester mustered a feeble reply, Murphy's twice
hit shot was straight at the keeper and Beckett was tackled on
the point of shooting. Bennett burst through and had his snatch
shot saved on the line. Smith impressed most of all with his use
of the ball in an otherwise anonymous midfield. They never looked
convincing, all their moves breaking down at the edge of the penalty
area. The assistant referee held up the figure four to signify
the amount of stoppage time at the end the bloke behind
me said "We need more like four days to score".
No goals, no points and no bookings for City
(Which perhaps is just as indicative of their lack of competetive
edge on the day). A woefully inept beginning to the season which
left us all feeling that though it was a hot day we are going to
be in for a long hard winter.