Saturday 25 March 2000
Chester City 5 Mansfield
Chester City: Brown,
Woods, Hicks, Hobson, Moss, Hemmings, Porter, Eve,
Carden (Reid 88), Beckett (Finney 77), Heggs (Fisher
81). Subs not used: Doughty, Lancaster.
Mansfield Town: Thompson, Andrews (Hassell 62),
Asher (Roscoe 60), Richardson (Bassinder 72), Linighan, Blake,
Clarke, Williams, Evans, Greenacre, Kerr. Subs not used: Mimms,
Referee: D.Crick (Worcester Park).
Well. What a turn up for the books
this was! Mansfield's last match was a 3-2 win at leaders
Rotherham a score which flattered the Millers
by all accounts. With an outside chance of the play
offs in sight for the Stags I expected them to give
City a tough game.
I was delayed leaving work so arrived
at the Deva late. Having been tuned to Merseyside,
however, I'd learned that City were two goals to the
good by the time I got there. First, as I drove up
towards the Northgate Roundabout, came the news that
Carl Heggs had prodded the Blueboys into the lead.
Eve's shot from the edge of the box was mis-hit but
it came to Heggs who helped the ball into the net.
As I turned in to Bumpers Lane, Neil Turner's dulcet
tones announced that it was raining goals at the Deva
as Beckett had added a second. This time Heggs had
received the ball on the half way line and charged
towards the goal, holding off a couple of challenges
on the way. He squared the ball to Luke whose scuffed
shot was still enough to find the net.
I charged across the car park and
made my way into a sunlit stadium. Supporters were
wreathed in smiles and unable to believe what was going
on. From the top of the Sealand Road terraces I had
a superb view of City's third goal which followed shortly.
From a Mansfield corner on their left the ball was
cleared to the edge of the box. A Mansfield player
returned the ball in the direction of the corner kicker.
Heggs intercepted however and made a surging run down
the right to the halfway line. From there his raking
pass found Hemmings charging through on the opposite
flank. He carried the ball on, beat a defender on the
edge of the box and then launched his shot beyond the
onrushing keeper and into the top corner of the net.
We were now living in the land of make believe.
City could easily have had another
couple of goals before half time. Again Heggs did most
of the damage, first toe-poking a shot at the keeper
when Beckett had the goal at his mercy and then just
failing to find Eve with his cross cum shot.
After the interval all thoughts of
a City collapse and a Mansfield comeback were sunk
when Eve added a fourth goal. Brown's kick found Beckett
- who had started his run early to beat the defence.
He carried the ball into the area, drew a couple of
defenders and then crossed for Eve to pick his spot.
Angus then scored with a stooping header when Beckett
had headed the ball back across goal from Hemmings'
What made all the difference? No
doubt the early goals helped. Heggs' powerful running
with the ball and tireless movement off the ball certainly
opened up the opportunities. Eve looks really good
playing just behind the front two he seems to
be developing a great understanding with them. Porter
and Carden worked diligently and effectively to win
the ball in front of the defence. And Hicks was an
absolute colossus at the back and clearly revelled
in the victory. After holding off a Mansfield attacker
and shepherding the ball out for a goal kick he mimed
holding a glass of brandy and smoking a cigar for the
fans in the corner. Then when he overhit a pass into
the crowd he gave a passable impression of a gorilla.
It was so good to see City fans smiling
afterwards. At least we have new grounds for hope even
if we have to secure a few more wins before the rapidly
approaching end of season.
Even people who've been afraid to
mention football to me for months have been saying "Your
team had a good win on Saturday". If only this week
could last a bit longer.
Tuesday 22 March 2000
Chester City 1 Hartlepool
Chester City: Brown,
Moss, Woods, Hicks, Hobson, Porter, Carden, Eve (Fisher
70), Hemmings, Heggs (Doughty 88), Beckett. Subs not
used: Richardson, Finney, Keister.
Hartlepool United: Hollund, Knowles, Strodder, Barron,
Westwood, Clark, Fitzpatrick, Stephenson, MIller, Lee (Henderson
5), Coppinger (Freestone 78). Subs not used: Dibble, Tennebo, Arnison.
Referee: M.Messias (York).
This was a classic game of two halves
(Brian) with the only consistent thing being the stunningly
City were really up for the challenge
of the Great Escape before the interval. It wasn't
often pretty but we deserved to be ahead when Hemmings
cut in from the left touchline, beat his man and when
we were expecting him to cross lashed the ball
in to the roof of the net. A goal of real quality.
Angus Eve was also playing well just behind the front
two. One superb piece of skill took him past two defenders
in a trice and led to him crossing the ball across
the face of goal - but the chance went begging. Later
Beckett seemed to have a good opportunity but fired
his shot straight at the keeper.
So we went for a cup of tea one goal
to the good after a solid and hard working first half
performance. To keep us entertained, a young woman
called Laura Edwards scored all five goals (With considerable
aplomb) in the �25 shoot out. While the Hartlepool
mascot made a monkey of himself. Cleggy gave us some
half time scorelines from Peterborough and Swansea
that certainly weren't in the script.
The teams came out to Blondie's "Heart
of Glass" hugely appropriate for City's supine second
half performance. I'm not saying they didn't work hard
Heggs, for instance, ran his tripe out but they
defended way way too deep and just invited Hartlepool
at them. The 'pool defenders and midfield were given
so much space to run at our defence it was only a question
of time before they scored.
Having said that they still needed
a helping hand from the referee who was hopelessly
weak and never in control of the game. Right from the
first minute he gave City a free kick after Porter
and Lee went full blooded for the same ball. When the
Hartlepool player was subsequently stretchered off,
the ref booked Porter and gave the free kick the other
way. A couple of wild tackles came flying in from Hartlepool
defenders after that and he didn't even talk to the
offenders let alone caution them. But Mr Messias capped
a miserable display by sending Darren Moss off inexplicably
in the 68th minute. It has since been alleged that
Moss stamped on Clark but if that's the case he was
certainly straight up on his feet and having a go at
Moss afterwards. I don't believe referees are biased
just incompetent this bloke just never got a grip
on the game at all. Conspiracy theories abounded though
as he came frm York one of our rivals for relegation
and handily on the way back to Hartlepool.
It was no co-incidence that the equaliser
came ten minutes later when an unmarked attacker popped
up in a Moss-shaped gap to slot the ball past Brown.
Worse could have followed when Miller's shot hit the
foot of the post shortly afterwards.
Man of the match for me was Hicks
who was immensely dominant at the back. Eve had a good
game too. But why did we let them come on to us so
much in the second half? Their goalie hardly had a
shot to save. Was it tiredness, nervousness or tactics?
If the latter then we only have ourselves to blame.
It's starting to look as though we
have one foot in the Conference now though not according
to Owner, Manager and "Coach to the Goalkeepers" Terry
Smith who still managed to be upbeat on the radio after
the game. But then his programme notes were completely
off the wall too.
Saturday 18 March 2000
Southend United 3 Chester
Southend United: Capelton,
Beard, Morley, Coleman (Roget 84), Newman, N.Jones, Maher
(Connelly 70), Tinkler (Pepper 70), Houghton, Carruthers,
S.Jones. Subs not used: Fitzpatrick, Cross.
Chester City: Brown, Woods, Hicks, Robinson (Doughty
25), Hobson, Moss, Porter, Fisher (Carden 58), Hemmings (Eve 72),
Beckett, Heggs.Subs not used: Richardson, Finney.
Referee: S.Baines (Chesterfield).
Chester slumped to to foot of the
table following this defeat at Roots Hall and Carlisle's
3-0 home victory over Barnet.
City started quite brightly but inept
defending cost them dear as the Blues found themselves
two down and almost out of the game after 22 minutes.
The first opportunity came Southend's way courtesy
Jamie Robinson who almost headed into this own net
but it wasn't long before the Shrimpers took the lead
following a mistake from Wayne Brown. The keeper's
kick out went straight to Tinkler who put on-loan Steve
Jones through, he looked yards offside, but gave Brown
no chance with his shot.
The second goal on 22 minutes was
also down to poor defending. Houghton's right-wing
cross fell invitingly for Coleman to head home from
City lost Robinson through a calf
injury to be replaced by the lively Matt Doughty and
the Blues started to create one or two openings. Carl
Heggs set up Darren Moss who shot straight at Capleton
in the home goal, and then in the lat minute of the
half, Porter was again in the thick of the action setting
up Darren Moss whose inch perfect cross was expertly
headed home by Luke Beckett to send City in at the
break 2-1 down.
The second period saw Matt Doughty
creating more for City. His corner was headed over
by Stuart Hicks with the goal at his mercy. United
also had their chances mainly from set pieces.
However a mistake by Hicks proved
costly as City conceeded a third. He got caught in
possession 30 yards out, and as Haughton raced through
on goal he rounded Brown and looked certain to score
before the City keeper pulled him down - earning himself
a yellow card for his troubles. Carruthers slotted
home the penalty, 3-1.
There were more appeals for a
spot kick at the other end as Mel Capleton hauled down
Luke Beckett but the linesman indicated a free-kick which
Angus Eve failed to make the most of.
Saturday 11 March 2000
Chester City 0 Shrewsbury Town
Chester City: Brown,
Woods, Fisher, Robinson, Hobson, Moss, Keister, Hemmings, Richardson
(Eve56), Beckett, Heggs (Carden 79). Subs not used: Finney, Doughty,
Shrewsbury Town: Dunbavin, Davidson, Winstanley,
Jobling (Berkley 79), Whelan (Hughes 45), Tretton, Brown, Peer,
Kerrigan (Jagielka 28), Sturridge, Thomas, Subs not used: Cooksey,
Referee: T.Heilbron (Co Durham).
How did Luke Beckett's screamer of a shot stay
out of the goal once it had hit the post? It seemed the only way
it could rebound must be into the back of the net. Somehow the
ball seemed to deny all the laws of physics and rebound back into
play. It was the defining moment of the game and began when Fisher
(The new improved version) sent a raking pass out towards Luke
on the left flank. A superb bit of control by Beckett both kept
the ball in play and wrong-footed the oncoming David Hughes. Luke
progessed to the edge of the area and his curling shot beat the
stranded keeper before it cannoned off the far post.
Had that gone in and Chester would have won the
match we would have dragged the Shrews back into the mire. As it
is they still have a six point cushion between us and a game in
The trouble was everyone seemed to know how much
was at stake and it lead to a nervy, tense encounter. Once piece
of genius could have tipped it either way. Luke showed the brilliance
but was unlucky with the rebound.
Earlier City had torn into their visitors and
threatened to overwhelm them. From Fisher's cross, Beckett's header
thumped against the bar and back again. Moments later Luke failed
to get proper contact on a low cross as he spun and a tame shot
trickled into the keeper's hands. City needed a goal to settle
them down. Heggs, newly signed on loan from Rushden, did his best
to make it happen. I haven't seen a City player throwing himself
into the game as much as he did since Gary Bennett in his prime.
With sleeves rolled up and socks rolled down Heggs gave his all
and really ruffled the Shrewsbury defence (Which included Spencer
Whelan and Ross Davidson). His headers and touches on for Luke
Beckett promise a potentially fruitful partnership ahead (As long
as we can hold on to the latter that is).
Sadly City's early zest began to fizzle out as
they did not gain any reward and Shrewsbury came into the game
more. They hardly threatened City's goal except from a corner when
Brown fumbled his catch. Wayne later pulled off a spectacular catch
in the dying minutes to keep out Shrewsbury's only other effort
The result suited Kevin Ratcliffe and his charges
more than us. Time is running out on us and the tension increases.
But Kev reckons we can both stay up. He's quoted in the Birmingham
press as saying that he'd love to bring Shrewsbury to the Deva
for the opening game of next season. Does that mean he'll be dropping
his claim for �200K against the club then?
We will see.
Tuesday 7 March 2000
Plymouth Argyle 0 Chester City 0
Plymouth Argyle: Sheffield,
Wotton (Stonebridge 71), Heathcote, Taylor, Barratt, Beswetherick,
O'Sullivan, Barlow (Gritton 23), Hargreaves, McCarthy (Phillips 33),
McGregor. Subs not used: Veysey, Peterson.
Chester City: Brown, Woods, Hicks, Robinson, Hobson,
Moss (Richardson 77), Porter, Fisher, Hemmings (Berry 86), Beckett,
Finney (Doughty 65). Subs not used: Reid Lancaster.
Referee: C.Wilkes (Gloucester).
City moved from the foot of the table following
this hard-fought point at Home Park, and City almost snatched a
last minute winner when Stuart Hicks headed just over following
Neil Fisher's cross.
Once again Luke Beckett looked dangerous up front
but it was Neil Fisher who had the first chance of the game lifting
the ball over the bar from a free kick
It took the home side nearly 20 minutes to achieve
their first efforts on goal with Paul McGregor trying his luck
from long range. Once again Fisher went close with a close range
volley that again dipped just over the bar following a fine run
into the box by Beckett.
A goalline clearance from O'Sullivan robbed Beckett
of the opening goal as Sheffield dropped Darren Moss' cross, and
Steve Finney, playing instead of the Siggi Eyjolfsson (recalled
to Walsall), had an effort turned round the post buy the home 'keeper.
Argyle's best effort after the break came
in the 63rd minute when Hicks almost put into his own net after clearing
Beswetherick's cross over Brown and just wide.
Saturday 4 March 2000
Exeter City 0 Chester City 2
Exeter City: Matthews,
Richardson, Curran, Gittens (Bresian 45), Power, Rees (Flack 30),
Buckle, Cornforth, Bennett, Nyamah, Rowbotham (Lee 45). Subs not
used: Potter, Waugh.
Chester City: Brown, Woods, Robinson, Hicks,
Doughty, Moss (Keister 76), Fisher, Porter, Hemmings, Beckett,
Eyjolfsson. Subs not used: Reid, Lancaster, Finney, Blackburn.
Referee: M.Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).
City got off to a great start in their Devon
double-header with three well deserved points at St James� Park
against a very poor Exeter side. Two goals in the opening 30 minutes
set City on their way, and, although they faced a second-half barrage
from the home side, keeper Wayne Brown was equal to all of their
efforts. They now travel to face Plymouth Argyle at Home Park on
Tuesday night knowing that a point there will take them off the
foot of the table.
Tony Hemmings started despite his injury last
Saturday though John Keister was on the subs bench and Gary Hobson
was nowhere to be seen. Jamie Robinson returned from suspension
and was made captain against his former side.
The Grecians had the first chance with Frankie
Bennett shooting wide on five minutes but it was only two minutes
later when Siggi Eyjolfsson gave City the lead. Luke Beckett, who
once again ran his legs off all afternoon, won a challenge just
outside the area and threaded the ball to Neil Fisher. Fisher slipped
it inside to the big Icelander who rifled home from 12 yards.
Minutes later Tony Hemmings was given a glorious
chance to double the lead when he was put clear by a superb Beckett
through ball. Bearing down on goal Hemmings shot low and hard but
Jason Matthews in the home goal saved well.
City�s second goal came in bizarre circumstances.
After some close passing Luke Beckett had set up Darren Moss down
the right his cross hit Graeme Power on the arm and the ball skidded
through to Matthews But, before the ball could reach him, and with
everyone waiting for the referee�s whistle, Beckett slid in to
force the ball home from six yards. Is this the first time we�ve
had a 2-0 lead this season?
There was another case for a penalty soon after
as Beckett�s shot was handled by Chris Curran but neither the linesman
or premiership referee Halsey saw anything wrong.
Exeter�s only chances of note came from a couple
of corners and a free kick hit high over the bar into the new Big
Bank behind the goal.
The home side were out five minutes early for
the second period, Noel Blake�s half-time talk no doubt still ringing
in their ears!
City sat back on their lead in the second period
and Wayne Brown had to be at his best to keep out two efforts from
the lively Bennett. One save in particular, rushing out from his
goal to save at the edge of the area was out of the top drawer.
Exeter�s main threats came from set pieces, and there were a lot
of them, Brown almost being caught out with a quickly taken free-kick
and earning a knock on the head from the post for his efforts.
Chester�s best efforts fell to Beckett and
Fisher but City held on and left to a standing ovation from the ecstatic
150 travelling fans.