Monday 28 December 1998
Chester City 1 Mansfield Town
Chester City: Cutler,
Richardson (Lancaster 59), Smith, Reid, Davidson, Woods,
A.Shelton (Wright 71), Priest, Murphy, Conroy, Aiston.
Sub not used: Carson.
Mansfield Town: Bowling, Ford, Harper (Williams
76), Peters, Lormor, Hackett, Schofield, Walker, Christie, Peacock,
Tallon. Subs not used: Allardyce, Ryder.
Referee: John Kirkby (Sheffield).
City continued their unbeaten December
run with a hard earned point against high-flying Mansfield
Town. Once again they had Neil Cutler to thank for
some outstanding saves that prevented the match from
slipping away at vital times.
First chance of the day came as early
as the first minute, with full back Alex Smith shooting
wide. Seconds later though the visitors were in front.
Skipper Ross Davidson made a hash of a clearance straight
to Lyseden Christie, his mis-hit shot fell straight
to Tony Lormor who couldn't, and didn't miss.
City main threat once again came
from Sam Aiston down the left wing though he was finding
it increasingly difficult to put in any quality crosses
for John Murphy and Mike Conroy up front. The Stags
should have increased their lead when Mark Peters headed
against the bar following a corner from Walker, Cutler
eventually smothered the danger as City found it increasingly
difficult to deal with the flag kicks.
On the stroke of half time Cutler
produced the save of the match. Ford's cross fell invitingly
for Lormor whose overhead kick was heading for the
top corner before the keeper somehow tipped it over
the bar. The save ensured that City reached the break
with just the one goal deficit, it could have been
a lot worse.
The match livened up considerably
for the second period. Andy Shelton set up Aiston whose
shot was blasted high and wide. Matt Woods came to
the rescue as he cleared a Christie shot off the line
after the Mansfield striker had burst through the City
defence, but minutes later the scores were level.
A mistake by Schofield let in
Conroy whose left wing cross was forced home by Reid
from six yards. Still the visitors had a chance to secure
the three points with Williams hitting the bar but with
so many players having an off day, and a couple forced
out of position, Chester will have been content with
the point that gives them 10 from 12 for the month.
Saturday 26 December 1998
Hull City 1 Chester City 2
Hull City: Wilson, Hocking (Morley
88), Swales, Whittle, Perry, Whitney, McGinty (Dudley 26), D'Auria,
Williams, Faulconbridge, Peacock. Sub not used, Edwards.
Chester City: Cutler, Richardson, Smith, Reid,
Davidson, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Conroy (Wright 72),
Aiston (A.Shelton 85) Subs not used: Thompson.
Referee: Paul Rejer (Tipton).
City recorded their second successive victory
at Boothferry Park but had to endure a backs-to-the-wall second
half after the home side pulled a goal back through David D'Auria
and pressed the Blues right till the end in the swirling wind and
driving rain that dominated the game.
Chester got off to a flying start with on-loan
winger Sam Aiston causing all sorts of problems for Hull. His thrusting
runs down the left wing brought about both City's goals in the
opening 11 minutes. After he was fouled near the touchline, Aiston
picked himself up and swung over a well flighted free-kick that
found David Flitcroft who sent a fine header past Steve Wilson
in the ninth minute. Flitcroft had been the speculation of a transfer
to Hull only a few weeks ago.
Just two minutes later and Aiston was surging
down the left again. He appeared to be brought down in the area
by Matt Hocking and the keeper, the ball broke free and Jon Whitney
side-footed the ball into his own net.
Neil Cutler was forced to make a great save from
Craig Dudley, and shortly afterwards Davidson cleared off the line
from a Steve Swales shot. Aiston was continuing to outpace the
home defence and missed two chances himself to increase the two-goal
Following the break the home side pounded the
Blues goal. Centre-back Davidson, replacing the suspended Crosby,
held firm with Matt Woods. Hull's best chance fell to Craig Faulconbridge
who shot well wide after being put through following a perfect
On 62 minutes D'Auria set up the grandstand
finish after pulling a goal back from close range following a back
header from Peacock, but City's defence along with an in-form Neil
Cutler held firm to pick up three priceless points.
Friday 18 December 1998
Rotherham United 2 Chester City 4
Rotherham United: Pollitt, Scott
(Thompson 54), Dillon (Berry 17), Garner, Warner, Raven, Sedgewick
(White 83), Ingledow, Scott, Glover, Hurst.
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Smith, Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Conroy, Aiston (Wright
90) Subs not used: A. Shelton, Reid.
Referee: G. Laws (Whitley Bay).
Well, what can I say. Rotherham has rarely been
a happy hunting ground for Chester, the highlight (for me) in recent
years being the 3-3 draw in 1992-93. From the word go, Sam Aiston
was tearing the Rotherham defence apart they simply could
not live with him. It's rare to see a winger playing in Division
Three that can turn defenders inside out the way he does and actually
deliver quality crosses as well. Only desperate bad luck and desperate
defending/goalkeeping prevented any City players connecting with
his crosses and the series of corners Chester forced in the early
stages of the game. Then in the 17th minute came an absolutely
stunning goal from Chris Priest who after collecting the ball from
a Flitcroft centre cracked a sweet volley past the helpless Rotherham
keeper from just inside the box.
After completely controlling the match until
then, Chester gradually let Rotherham back into it. But despite
some reasonable approach play United just couldn't produce a decent
final ball and every attack was easily dealt with by the City defenders.
Despite this there was still the lingering feeling that things
could go wrong and the stroke of half-time brought a scary moment.
A seemingly weak shot was left to go wide by Cutler but it turned
wildly at the last moment and hit the post.
The second half performance was superlative with
City completely running the show. Goals looked on the cards and
only a good double save from the United keeper prevented City from
taking the lead immediately after the break. Then from a corner
in the 51st Conroy was left completely unmarked at the far post
and produced the deftest of headers which sneaked just inside the
post taking a deflection off a United defender on the way in. This
was just the tonic City needed and we began to play some very neat
football, taking full control in defence and midfield, although
Aiston had a much quieter second-half. Victory seemed all but sealed
in the 73rd minute with a quality goal from Conroy. The Rotherham
keeper cleared the ball with the wrong foot and it spun straight
to Conroy, who standing just outside the box, coolly placed a side-foot
volley straight back over the keeper's head. This was greeted by
mad celebrations by the 150 or so Chester fans with the cheering
nearly drowned out by cries of laughter. It really was a very funny
and cheeky goal.
In the 78th minute Rotherham managed to pull
a goal back through Glover, their leading scorer, who produced
a neat turn and finish that gave Cutler no chance. Chester's three
goal advantage was restored in the 83rd minute by Murphy who planted
a textbook downward header from eight yards past the Rotherham
keeper after some patient build-up play. Just before full-time,
Rotherham pulled another goal back through White who took full
advantage of Cutler's fumble to plant the ball home.
So, all in all a superb City performance. United's
two late goals really were undeserved but it makes you wonder that
if our finishing had been as poor as it has been in other matches
this season we could have lost this one despite completely out-playing
the opposition. The evening was rounded off nicely by the sight
of thirty members of the Rotherham Supporter's Club Norwegian Branch
moping about on the train back to Sheffield.
D.Eccles - Sheffield
Saturday 12 December 1998
Chester City 1 Darlington 0
Chester City: Cutler; Davidson,
Smith, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, A.Shelton (Wright
80), Murphy, Conroy (Jones 90), Aiston. Sub not used: Lancaster.
Darlington: Preece, Brumwell, Barnard, Liddle,Tutill,
Leah, Campbell, Naylor, Dorner, Gabbiadini, Gaughan. Subs: Ellison,
Referee: M.Cowburn (Blackpool).
Chester included their loan signing Mike Conroy
from Blackpool in their starting line-up. Conroy only just made
it though, his registration being lodged with just five minutes
to spare before the noon deadline. Alex Smith filled in at left
back to cover for the suspended Jon Cross.
It was the visitors who had the first attempt
on goal after just 20 seconds, Campbell's shot was pushed round
the post at the second attempt by Cutler as the City defence was
caught napping. A minute later Cutler failed to hold a Gabbiadini
shot, but full back Ross Davidson was on hand to clear the danger.
City's first effort on goal came with a 25-yard
drive from David Flitcroft following a diagonal run that flew over
the bar. Richardson and Conroy combined well to create a chance
for the midfielder but goalkeeper Preece smothered the danger.
City were being penned back for long periods
and the visitors missed the chance of the match when Gabbiadini
cut through the heart of the defence, rounded keeper Cutler but
his side-footed shot on goal from 10 yards was coolly cleared off
the line by Matt Woods.
City hit back with a John Murphy header just
wide from 10 yards and a shot from Dave Flitcroft suffering the
same fate. Our main threat was coming through Sam Aiston, though
he had three players shadowing him at times.
After the break City stepped up the tempo. A
great sweeping move ended with Conroy netting smartly only for
his effort to be ruled offside. Aiston switched wings and proved
to be more effective.
City took the lead on 53 minutes with a superbly
worked goal. Richardson and Smith exchanged a one-two and Smith's
outswinging cross was met by the unmarked Andy Shelton six yards
out and he couldn't miss. There were appeals for a penalty when
John Murphy was bundled down in the box, but it was a 50-50 case
with John giving as good as he got.
Time was running out but there was still room
for a heart stopping moment on 88 minutes when Gabbiadini's cross
shot was superbly saved by Cutler with the rebound being hit into
the side netting from close range.
So City recorded their first win since October
3rd (11 games). Alex Smith was named sponsors man-of-the-match, though
it must have been a close run things with striker John Murphy putting
in another good performance.
Tuesday 8 December 1998 Auto
Windscreens Shield Round 1
Chester City 1 Hartlepool United 2
Chester City: Cutler; Richardson,
Crosby, Woods, Cross, A.Shelton (Lancaster 71), Flitcroft, Reid,
Smith; Murphy, Aiston. Subs not used: Moss, Jones.
Hartlepool United: Hollund, Knowles, Clark,
Barron, Lee, Ingram, Stokoe, Miller (Baker 64), Howard, Midgley
(Rush 71), Stephenson (Brightwell 91).
Referee: R.J. Olivier (Sutton Coldfield).
The air of gloom and despondency which has gathered
over the Deva since the creditors meeting last Friday, deepened
with this result. It began brightly enough for City with Aiston
finding space on the left to cut into the penalty area. He pulled
the ball back for Shelton only for him to have it taken off his
toes by a defender. From Reids cross, Murphy leapt superbly
to flash a header narrowly wide. Aiston repeated his run a few
minutes later and this time Shelton turned the ball in after it
had fallen kindly for him of a combination of Flitcroft and a defender.
It was Sheltons first senior goal for City. As soon as we
seem to go a goal up recently we take our foot off the gas and
this was repeated yet again tonight. Gradually Hartlepool took
control of the game and should have equalised just before half
time their number eight poked his shot just wide.
Immediately after the break the visitors did
indeed equalise. City came out cold and some sloppy defending gave
the ball back to Hartlepool, their centre forward found himself
through on goal in the inside left position. He seemed to have
put his low shot too close to Cutler but the goalie could only
manage to knock the ball in with his arm.
Back to square one. Same old story. For a while
City bucked their game up but were generally pretty disjointed.
Woods came closest to restoring our lead when he whacked a rebound
from a corner onto the underside of the bar. Despite the shot threatening
to uproot both bar and goalposts, it came back out to be scrambled
away. Then Murphy chased with their keeper for a wide ball, managed
to knock it back to Cross, and with the keeper scrambling back
desperately for goal, trigger had a go for the top corner from
all of forty yards. It was on target as well but Hollund got back
in the nick of time to knock it round the post.
The game was really opening up. Cutler saved
from point blank range when the ball dropped from a corner at the
feet of their number five who smacked it as hard as he could towards
the roof of the net. A turning point was reached, however when
Crosby was sent off for a reckless lunge at goalkeeper Hollund.
A melee ensued and it seemed the ref could have sent three or four
off but he singled out Crosby whose challenge had led to the incident.
Reid was booked in the aftermath for offering the ref (Mr RJ Olivier
from Sutton Coldfield) some advice (Presumably on where he could
stick his whistle).
Ratcliffe immediately replaced young Shelton
(Also booked earlier for a hotheaded tackle in retaliation for
a push) with Martyn (Burt) Lancaster to fill the hole vacated by
Crosby. Reid (Whilst being booked) picked up the captains
armband tossed aside by Crosby.
Still chances came at either end as the ten men
battled gamely. Murphy went close with a volley but otherwise we
were reduced to wayward long shots from outside the box or Aiston
who had run himself ragged trying to dribble his way through. Baker
for Hartlepool came on as sub and his flick over Cutler looked
to have won the game until it hit the post and rebounded into the
goalies arms. Cutler was also called into action to save
superbly at the foot of the post a header and then catch a shot
destined for the top corner.
In extra time the golden goal rule came into
operation and it was no surprise that the visitors got it as our
attacking options became increasingly limited. Brightwell, on as
sub showed a clean pair of heels to Richardson and Flitcroft as
he curled in along the eighteen yard box and curled a shot into
the far corner.
All that was left the disappointed Chester crowd
was to vent their spleen on referee and visiting goalkeeper for
making the most of the Crosby incident and Mick Tait for
wearing a silly hat which made him look like Bugs Bunny.
Talking with City fans afterwards, those
behind the goal thought that Crosby was reckless and deserved
to go. It also felt that although no-one is too bothered about
going out of this competition, we desperately need a win now
of any description. The team was disrupted by suspension and
injuries. Richardson was wasted at full back in my opinion and
Flitcroft does not seem to know what to do when he comes off
the right touchline. Oh dear we need some inspiration