latest home defeat, the heaviest since returning to the
Football League, brought a chorus of boos at the final
whistle from the diminishing home crowd as City slumped
to their seventh defeat in eight games.
Too add insult to injury the Blues
saw two players, Kevin Ellison and Laurence Wilson,
red carded. As a result both start three match bans
Manager Bobby Williamson made a couple
of changes from the team beaten at home 1-0 by Rotherham
on Saturday. He handed loan striker Craig Lindfield
a full debut in place of Chris Holroyd, and recalled
Tony Grant from injury in place of Kevin Roberts. Both
Holroyd and Roberts started on the bench.
Both sides enjoyed an even start as
Lindfield caught the eye first forcing a great save
from Rochdale goalkeeper Sam Russell, then testing the
Dale shot stopper from long range.
Lindfield, turned provider laying
a ball back for defender James Vaughan but the chance
Despite the possession City were made
to pay for their missed chances on 29 minutes as the
visitors took the lead.
Adam Le Fondre, who moments earlier
had blown a chance to open the scoring, made no mistake
following up a Howe shot from the right that deflected
up from the diving Danby to score from four yards.
A minute later came arguably the turning
point in the game when Ellison was shown a straight
red card for allegedly head-butting Simon Ramsden.
John Murphy headed over as City looked
to get back level but it was Dale who looked like scoring
most as Perkins brought out a great save from John Danby
and Le Fondre shot just wide.
The visitors did double their lead
through just before the break as Paul Butler, under
pressure, steered the ball past Danby’s outstretched
leg into the net following a break down the left.
On the hour Dale extended their lead
through Tom Kennedy. He picked up the ball on the left
and turned two players inside out on the way to goal
before calmly shooting past Danby with ease.
Five minutes from time Wilson was
given a straight red card after he was penalised for
a push on Perkins on the edge of the box, the resulting
free-kick was cleared.
Dale wrapped up the points in
the final minutes, breaking again down the left, Alan
Rundle cut inside to shoot under Danby from a narrow
welcomed back both John Murphy from injury and Paul Linwood
from suspension to the starting X1, while another long-term
absentee Tony Grant made the bench as the Blues looked
for their first win of the year against a Rotherham side
lying in second spot.
a solitary goal early in the encounter was enough to
condemn the Blues to their sixth defeat in seven games
as their new year slump in form continued.
The game was just seven minutes old
when Chris O’Grady latching on to a Dale Tonge
throw-in turned Linwood on the right and sent in a low
shot. John Danby appeared to have it covered at the
near post but the ball slipped under his body into the
Both Richie Partridge and Kevin Ellison
saw dangerous looking crosses cleared by the Millers
back line as City slowly got into the game.
Warrington, in the visitors goal,
wasn’t called into action though until the 26th
minute when he made a save from Linwood. Moments later
Wilson shot high and wide.
As the half drifted to an end Danny
Harrison was denied a shot at goal by a fine tackle
from Paul Butler.
James Vaughan sent over a teasing
cross just after the interval but three was knowone
to convert the loose ball, moments later Chris Holroyd
forced a fine save out of Warrington as City pressed.
At the other end Steve Brogan saw
a shot blocked before O’Grady should have doubled
the lead on the hour mark but failed to connect with
Pablo Mills’ cross from close range.
With chances at a premium manager
Bobby Williamson called the changes bringing on Gregg
Lindfield for Holroyd and Mark Hughes for Kevin Roberts.
Partridge saw a free kick cleared
as City found it hard to make any inroads through the
It was the Millers who were creating
the openings though, Ian Ross sending one effort over
the bar before Danby saved well from Mark Hudson. The
woodwork came to City’s rescue in the dying minutes
as James Vaughan deflected a ball off it.
City failed to capitalise on
two late corners and as the game drew to a close Wilson
flashed a shot just wide.
was never going to be a classic, as two teams with two measly points between
them from five games each came together at Notts County’s impressive
Meadow Lane ground.
The game lived up to its billing,
with both sides putting on a dismal spectacle and
Notts County determined to foul their way into the
box, by committing 25 fouls in a game which also
saw six yellow cards handed out.
It was especially grim for the
234 travelling City fans who saw their team yet again
fail to match the performances they’d been
managing earlier this season.
There were few serious chances
for either side in the opening spell, with a Jason
Lee header straight to John Danby and a wide shot
from Kevin Ellison being the best in the first half
Chris Holroyd was on his own up
front again, getting more support from Ellison, as
Richie Partridge was seemingly absent for most of
the match. He seems to be half the player he was
just a few weeks ago.
City received two bookings in the
first half from fussy referee Anthony Taylor, with
Mark Hughes and Kevin Roberts seeing yellow inside
the first 11 minutes.
But there was no other real drama
in the first half, with City fans having little to
cheer about until the half-time game of mini-football
saw the team in blue score against their opponents.
Soon after the big football re-started,
it was back to reality for the Chester fans as they
saw a Notts County header from a free-kick hit the
bar, followed by the ball being cleared off the line.
Chester’s best chance of
the game came on the 54th minute when Kevin Sandwidth,
playing in midfield, took a free kick about 25 yards
out. His strike was heading for goal, but County ‘keeper
Kevin Pilkington tipped the excellent shot over the
Sandwidth’s corner was disappointing
as it went straight out of play, and before long
Notts won a corner at the other end. Laurie Dudfield’s
header from the corner was cleared off the line,
but the ball pinged about the box and captain Adam
Tann headed it home. He was only about a yard inside
play and the City players and fans appealed for off-side,
but the goal stood.
City didn’t make any immediate
changes and County continued to press forward. But
on the 67th minute, County replaced tricky Felix
Bastians with Myles Weston and Liverpool loanee Craig
Lindfield made his debut for Chester, replacing Mark
Hughes. It was only a few months ago that Lindfield
was playing at Meadow Lane as an on-loan Notts County
Unfortunately Lindfield failed
to get any service during his 25 minutes on the field,
so it’s hard to tell if he’s going to
be an impressive signing for Chester.
County had a few more reasonable
chances in the closing spell, including both Dudfield
and Weston having two shots close to the target.
At the other end, chances were thin on the ground,
with Ellison coming closest with a deflected shot
in the last 10 minutes, followed by a Paul Butler
header over the bar.
Notts made a couple of substitutions
in the last two minutes, which seemed more of a time-wasting
exercise than anything else, and neither side did
much with the four minutes of stoppage time.
Had things not gone so well for
Chester earlier this season, this game would have
been a real ‘six pointer’. It’s
less than a month before the two sides meet again,
when it really could be a ‘six pointer’ unless
the Blues turn matters around.
recorded their first away victory of the season as City slumped to their
sixth Deva defeat of the campaign.
City, looking for their first victory
of 2008, welcomed back Kevin Ellison from suspension but were without the
services of Paul Butler who served a one match ban. Tony Grant, Tony Dinning,
Nathan Lowndes and John Murphy all continued to miss
out through injury.
City were first out of the blocks and had a good chance
to open the scoring on five minutes as Richie Partridge cross found Ellison
but he could only shoot straight at Stags ‘keeper Carl Muggleton.
On 25 minutes Ian Holmes found space past the City
defence but drilled his shot straight at John Danby, moments later Ellison
forced a good save from Muggleton in the Stags goal after unleashing
a trademark thunderbolt!
Mansfield began to get on top and were forcing openings.
Fifteen minutes before the break the visitors should have taken the lead
when Stephen Lawson was sent through one-on-one but as Danby rushed out
he slid his shot past both the ‘keeper and the left hand post.
Despite plenty of possession a Laurence Wilson drive
and a shot high and wide fro Partridge was all they managed to create.
The only goal of the game came four minutes after the
break. Simon Brown was sent away down the right and as he cut into the
box Wilson stumbled in his challenge and Brown shot though Danby’s
legs to score from close range.
Muggleton was on hand again to save from Kevin Roberts
after the youngster had created an opening for himself.
Manager Bobby Williamson decided to make changes and
introduced Paul McManus and Paul Rutherford at the expense of Partridge
and Mark Hughes as City, kicking towards the home end, looked to find
a way back.
However their only real chance of note came on
77 minutes as Roberts’ pinpoint right wing cross found the head
of Ellison but Muggleton was his equal to tip the on-target header
over the bar.
fought back twice after the break to claim their first league point of 2008
and stop a run of three successive defeats. Once again in the absence of John
Murphy youngster Chris Holroyd played up front and the former youth team player
bagged a brace as City shared six goals with their hosts.
On-loan midfielder John Welsh show wide in the opening
minutes but it wasn’t long before the Blues got off to the best possible
start taking the lead on nine minutes. Paul Linwood knocked down a Laurence
Wilson free-kick for Holroyd to slide the ball home from close range.
The Blues should have doubled their lead on 20 minutes
but Richie Partridge failed to hit the target from close range after Holroyd
had set him up with a probing run down the wing.
City dominated much of the opening period but seven
minutes before the break Stanley were level with a well taken goal. Andy
Proctor hooked the ball home past John Danby after the City defence had
failed to clear their lines following an inswinging Ian Craney free kick.
Manager Bobby Williamson was forced to make a change
at half-time replacing Paul Butler who was feeling ill with Shaun Kelly.
City appealed for a penalty as Holroyd appeared to
have been brought down as he rounded Dunbavin but referee Hill waved away
the City appeals.
Minutes later, Just after the hour mark, Stanley
took the lead. Craney lobbed the ball over Danby after the City ‘keeper
had done well to save Roscoe D’Sane’s shot. The Blues were
back on level terms just five minutes later though as Kevin Roberts made
a great run down the left, his pass found Wilson who curled a spectacular
effort into the top corner giving Dunbavin in the home goal no chance.
As has happened a number of times in recent weeks
the Blues conceded a soft goal from a set piece as D’Sane beat everyone
at the near post to head home a Craney corner. Once again though City were
quick to respond and Holroyd scored the fourth goal of the match in a 15
minute spell. A City free-kick caused panic in the home defence and Linwood,
once again, was the provider as he crossed for Holroyd to tap home from
a yard in front of the delighted traveling support.
There was time to snatch a later winner but both
Roberts and Kelly saw efforts go wide as City had to be content with a
point from a pulsating second half.
Williamson favoured youth over experience in his team
selection today as City sought to recover from the hangover
caused by two heavy defeats on the road. Newton came
in at left back to make his home debut. McManus came
in on the left side of midfield and new loan signing
John Welsh made his debut in the middle.
Chester were the more purposeful in the the first half and had the most efforts
on goal – though they were few and far between. Ellison had a couple of
range-finding shots which were well off target. When he lined up a free kick
on the edge of the penalty area we hoped it might be third time lucky but it
was Welsh who curled his shot narrowly over. Ellison – who seemed more
effective when he drifted wide rather than in the central role he was asked to
play – swept in a dangerous cross from the left which the Mariners scrambled
Just before the break City missed a golden chance to score. McManus capitalised
on a misunderstanding between two defenders and surged forward towards goal with
only the ‘keeper to beat. Unfortunately for him and the team he snatched
his shot wide of the post.
During the interval Kevin Hodge tried to win the cross bar challenge, organised
by the Trust but failed to get enough lift to come close to hitting the woodwork.
Cleggy, harsh critic that he is, described the attempt as “rather pathetic”.
Instead his words became a forecast of City’s second half efforts.
After half time the visitors were the more ambitious and City seemed to lose
their way. Chester were stifled in midfield and were misfiring up front as the
forwards failed to combine effectively together. Eventually Williamson replaced
Holroyd with Yeo and McManus with Hughes to shake things up but by then the damage
had been done.
Grimsby took the lead when Danby brought down one of their forwards. It appeared
unnecessary as North had knocked the ball too far forward and was heading away
from the goal at the time but it was no surprise when the referee pointed to
the spot. The goal itself was little surprise either as City had been conceding
territory to the Mariners and received a warning when Boshell headed narrowly
over a few minutes earlier.
In reply City could not organise the momentum to pressurise the visitors’ defence.
Yeo had a good shot saved by the post and a header just over the bar but Chester’s
pressure was sporadic. The game was put beyond doubt when Atkinson glanced in
a header from a right wing free kick.
With this third successive defeat City’s season is in danger of crumbling
at the half way stage just like the previous two campaigns. It’s a tricky
time to blood several youngsters at once. Of those that played today, Sean Newton
had a very steady game; McManus looked uncomfortably out of position; while Welsh
looked the accomplished player he promises to be apart from one rash moment when
he lunged in for a venomous tackle and was booked. Just to add to City’s
woes Butler was also booked for arguing with the referee and is due for suspension.
Testing times ahead for the Blues.