the second time in a week City picked up a well deserved
point against a side chasing for promotion, the point
however was not enough as only victories can help save
City’s Football League status now.
It’s the same old story with Chester as once again
the lack of a recognised striker cost City dear as chances were created and
not converted as the Blues battle to keep in touch with Grimsby Town just above
them in the relegation dog-fight.
Manager Mark Wright made one change from the side that drew at Gigg Lane
bringing in Richie Partridge for David Mannix who took a place in the bench.
The Bantams arrived at Deva Stadium on the back of four
straight defeats and looked determined early on to take the game to their hosts.
John Danby made a great save to deny Michael Boulding after he’d been
sent through by Paul Mullin in the 12th minute.
Chances were few and far between
in the blustery conditions. Jay Harris forced a save from
Rhys Evans in the visitors goal as he sent in a 25-yarder.
Kevin Ellison also saw a long range effort saved in an
evenly contested first half. Danby was also on hand to
save from Mullin, who incidentally played for Accrington
Stanley when City last won a game on Boxing Day.
Dangerman Boulding produced another fine save from Danby
and before the half ended Ryan Lowe saw an effort saved
by Evans, pushing the ball round the post and out for
The second period started as the first with the visitors
having the first effort on goal as Luke O’Brien
shot over on 50 minutes. Moments later Nicky Law saw an
effort fly wide of Danby’s goal.
But City started to gain the upper hand and Lowe saw another
long-range effort tipped round the post by Evans just
before the hour mark. The Blues almost grabbed the lead
through Partridge but the winger was denied by a Zesh
Rehman challenge when a goal seemed inevitable. Partridge
saw another effort saved by Evans after good work by James
Vaughan on the wing had set him up.
Manager Wright replaced Ellison with Ben Jones with just
over ten minutes remaining and in stoppage time the Blues
almost grabbed all three points. Lowe fed a fine through
ball to Partridge who rounded Evans but couldn’t
find the net from a narrow angle.
Despite picking up a point against promotion chasing Bury,
the Blues dropped into a relegation spot after all their
rivals for the drop won. The Shakers looked to be heading
for their first win over Chester since 1990, 19 matches
ago, before Ryan Lowe popped up in the final minute to
equalise for the Blues to the delight of the 300+ travelling
fans behind the goal.
Mark Wright kept the same side that picked up a point
against Grimsby last Saturday. As you’d expect
for a team that has lost just one of its last 13 matches
The Shakers started in a confident mood putting City
under pressure right from the off.
Andy Bishop am close to notching his
15th goal of the season in the fifth minute but he saw
his header cleared off the line by Kevin Roberts with
John Danby beaten. Danby was on hand minutes later though
to make a reflex save from Efe Sodje and then collect
a follow-up header from Michael Jones.
Sodje then saw a header clip the crossbar
as he rose head and shoulders above the City defence
to meet a right wing free-kick.
City’s first effort of note
came from a Jay Harris long-range effort that flew well
wide. But still the home side came at City and Laurence
Wilson had to make a last ditch tackle just outside
the area to deny Stephen Dawson who had taken the ball
half the length of the pitch.
The Blues’ resolute defence
was finally breached in first-half added time. Harris
was adjudged to have fouled Brian Barry-Murphy. Jones
swung over the free-kick that was met by Sodje who headed
to Andy Morrell to score from close range. The City
defence appealed against a foul on Danby but referee
Graham awarded the goal.
The home side were reduced to ten
men two minutes after the restart. Ryan Lowe was sent
through on the right and as he headed for the box he
was pulled back by Ryan Creswell who was given a straight
red card. Ben Futcher came on in a tactical substitution
to bolster the home defence.
Wright brought on Ben Jones and later
Paul Rutherford, for David Mannix and Glenn Rule as
the Blues looked to press home their one man advantage.
Kevin Ellison came lose when he steered a volley just
past the post on 57 minutes.
The Blues almost drew level ten minutes
from time as Dawson sliced his clearance from a Wilson
corner right across the face of his own goal.
But the equaliser finally came
in the dying seconds. Roberts crossed from the right and
leading scorer Lowe tucked the ball past ex-City ‘keeper
Wayne Brown for a precious point in the fight for League
It was an entertaining and to some extent enjoyable match
at the Deva as the two sides with the poorest records
in League Two this campaign clashed. Grimsby were still
buoyant from thrashing local rivals Lincoln last weekend,
despite a midweek defeat at Chesterfield in between, while
Chester were still licking their wounds after the mauling
they received from Rotherham on Tuesday night.
Eleven hundred visiting supporters boosted the attendance
and made for a cracking atmosphere. Windy conditions made
it difficult for both sides but the quality of play was
not brilliant all afternoon. Here were two sides low in
self esteem and nervous of their precarious League position.
The Mariners – all seemingly solid and stockily
built – settled slightly better and went closest
to scoring early on. Hegarty found space on the left and
latched on to a pass over the top. He mis-hit his shot
but then it took a wicked deflection off Roberts and just
missed the near post with Danby stranded.
The same player did not miss the target in the twenty-first
minute when he again had plenty of room to home in on
goal and Danby was hopelessly exposed by lack of cover.
First blood to the Mariners in this relegation battle.
If anything, Chester improved after this and, though the
play was scrappy they forced the visitors back for long
spells. Ellison who had blazed a good shot into the side
netting was guilty of snatching at a great chance when
the ball was nodded down to him. With the goal at his
mercy he volleyed the ball first time over the bar and
out of the ground. City did get the ball in the net later
but were penalised for fouling goalkeeper Henderson. Just
before the break Mannix had two attempts at scoring from
a direct free kick. The first Henderson just managed to
claw over the bar, the second – granted because
of a defender’s encroachment – was much more
easily caught by the keeper.
After the break City applied a bit of pressure and missed
a couple more great opportunities to equalise. First Barry
controlled the ball well on the edge of the area and let
fly a rasping shot which was cleared desperately off the
line. The rebound came to Roberts who, like Ellison before
him, blazed a first time shot over the bar – though
narrowly this time. Then a corner to the far post found
Roberts free again but the wind made it difficult for
him to direct his header on target.
Just as it began to seem if City would never score they
broke rapidly upfield and Barry teed up Ellison. His fierce
shot was blocked and came out to Lowe – he kept
his head well to evade a tackle and then lash the ball
home into the roof of the net. The relief among City supporters
was palpable and there was a genuine belief around the
ground that the game was there to be won. Linwood went
close as Henderson flapped at a corner but his header
went wide of the post.
Grimsby rallied after the equaliser and might have scored
themselves but a combination of desperate defending and
luck kept them at bay. Hegarty repeated the move from
which he scored but this time his shot flashed wide.
Barry was replaced by Rutherford for the last ten minutes
or so – perhaps it was a precaution after he had
been yellow carded but City lost pace and threat with
Barry’s removal. Still there was time for one last
gasp miss as a cross bounced and found Wilson in space
on the right. He hurried his header and it sailed over
Neither side will have been over joyful at gaining just
a point – but City fans who had been inclined to
resign themselves to the drop can take a crumb of comfort
from the fact that Grimsby seem as unconfident and disjointed
as we do.
10 March Chester
City 1 Rotherham United 5
Attendance: 1,235 (77 Rotherham) Half Time 1-3
Booked: Harris, Wilson.
Chester City: Danby, J.Vaughan, Rule,
Linwood, Roberts, Wilson, Mannix (Partridge 50), Barry,
Harris, Lowe, Ellison. Subs not used: Rutherford, Owen,
Jones, Smith. Rotherham United: Warrington, Tonge (Joseph
73), Fenton, Sharps, Green, Cummins, Mills (D.Harrison
70), Hudson, Reid, Broughton (R.Taylor 75), Clarke. Subs
not used: Cann, J.Taylor. Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire). Just
when you thought it couldn’t get any worse City
suffer a humiliating home defeat in front of the lowest
Deva attendance of the season. The Blues, who have picked
up just two points from the last 45 looked prime relegation
candidates as their other rivals for the spot, Accrington
Stanley, Barnet, Bournemouth and Grimsby Town all seem
capable of picking up points at the moment.
With no sign whatsoever
of any promised loan players coming in manager it appears
that Mark Wright must make do with his shell-shocked squad
who have now conceded eight goals in four days.
Things started well for City and Millers goalkeeper Andy
Warrington was on hand to intercept a through ball from
Ryan Lowe as Kevin Ellison bore down on the ‘keeper
in the first five minutes. At the other end John Danby
was also in early action pushing an effort from former
City player Drewe Broughton onto the woodwork and out
to safety following a poor clearance from Paul Linwood.
The Blues took the lead for the first time in eleven matches
with a well worked goal from Ellison, his second in successive
games. Jay Harris started the move with a through ball
to Lowe that was pulled back into the path of Ellison
who struck the ball first time from 20 yards past Warrington
in the 14th minute.
But, as so many times
in the recent past, City became their own worst enemies
when they conceded a poor equaliser twelve minutes later.
Defender Kevin Roberts claimed he’d been pushed
in the box before handling the ball, referee Swarbrick
was having none of it however and Reuben Reid converted
City responded well
and Warrington pulled off a fine save to deny Laurence
Wilson whose long-range effort was heading for goal. Six
minutes before the break however the visitors took the
lead as Micky Cummins headed unchallenged past Danby following
a pin-point Jamie Green cross.
To compound the first-half misery Broughton deflected
a Roberts effort past Danby in stoppage time to give City
a second half mountain to climb.
Richie Partridge replaced
David Mannix five minutes after the break, but the game
was put well beyond City moments later as Reid grabbed
his second goal after bearing in from the right and sending
an unstoppable shot past Danby.
Reid sent another effort crashing against the bar on the
hour mark as City beleaguered defence was being run ragged.
As an attacking force City showed little though Partridge
did at least test Warrington before Reid completed his
hat-trick sending a shot past Danby from 15 yards.
And is could have been worse as Jamie Clarke went close
twice in the closing minutes to complete a miserable night
for the Blues.
coined the phrase “six-pointer” to describe
fixtures between two clubs vying to avoid relegation could
also have branded them “six-pintas” as that’s
how much beer I felt like drinking before this nervy match
Both teams also started in an edgy fashion, with neither
getting anywhere near the goal for the first ten minutes
as each seemed scared to leave their defences open. It
was City’s Ryan Lowe who had the first serious effort
of the game with a strike which rattled the woodwork of
the North Terrace goal.
That was actually the only real action of the opening
45 minutes as both sides cancelled each other out in midfield
and whistle-happy referee Trevor Kettle also played his
part in making it a very staccato performance.
So with all to play for in the second half, Barnet ran
out with more determination and within five minutes were
awarded a free-kick for a Jay Harris foul on Neal Bishop.
Harris received a yellow card and John O’Flynn stepped
up to make it 1-0 from the subsequent free kick, spoiling
John Danby’s record-breaking appearance for the
City didn’t allow their heads to drop and just six
minutes later, a good Laurence Wilson pass found Kevin
Ellison in space. He slotted it home past Barnet ‘keeper
Jake Cole, signed on loan from QPR just the day before.
It was beginning to feel like it was odds-on for a draw,
until 40-year-old Paul Furlong drew a booking against
James Vaughan and there was a feeling he was beginning
to make his experience count. Lowe did have another shot
on goal, but it was easily held by Cole.
On the 69th minute, Furlong was adjudged to have been
held in the box by Paul Linwood and Barnet were awarded
a penalty, with Linwood being booked in the process. Danby
dived the right way, but couldn’t stop O’Flynn’s
well-taken penalty putting Barnet back in the driving
Lowe, who was City’s liveliest player on the day,
had a shot which just went wide of the post not long after.
But, just five minutes after their second goal, Barnet
were on the score sheet again. Chester failed to clear
the ball properly, giving Albert Adamah time to make a
dangerous pass into the area. Danby came close to saving
it, but Furlong’s head connected with the ball and
it was 3-1 to the jubilant Bees.
Chester had an attempt to make it as grand a finale as
the previous Saturday, with a great Wilson strike being
pushed onto the crossbar by Cole on the 91st minute. But
that was the closest City came to finding the net and
as the final whistle blew you couldn’t help but
think that time was running out for the Blues to escape
the relegation trap door.
There’s another “six-pinta” coming up
on Saturday. Actually, that home game against Grimsby
is beginning to feel like a “nine-pinta” and
I’m sure some City fans will be downing that many
beers if the Blues finally get three points in 2009. Time
to get those hangover tablets in the medicine cabinet
– just in case!
latest defeat, coupled with victories for relegation rivals
Barnet and Bournemouth plunged the Blues deeper into the
On a rain soaked pitch, and in front of Wycombe’s
lowest home crowd for over ten years, City competed well
in the opening stages and were once again left to rue
missed chances that would ultimately be their downfall.
Manager Mark Wright was forced into a change bringing
in Glenn Rule for the injured Shaun Kelly while up front
Richie Partridge was preferred to Ben Jones.
It was the hosts who had the first effort on goal in the
opening five minutes as Matty Phillips saw his long range
effort spilt by John Danby, but the Blues keeper who equaled
the club record of consecutive appearances here at Adams
Park, recovered to gather the ball at the second attempt.
The Blues (in yellow) should have opened the scoring in
the 15th minute. Partridge made a run down the left, cut
inside and send in a near post shot that Chairboys ‘keeper
Jamie appeared to save. The ball however seemed to slip
out of his hands to Ryan Lowe four yards out but City’s
top scorer could only send his shot straight back at Young.
The Blues knew it was a guilt-edged chance as the traveling
fans looked at the big screen replay in disbelief!
The home side responded moments later with a quick counter
attack that saw Danby save low down following a Matty
Philips shot from a narrow angle.
Kevin Ellison saw shot from just inside the box flash
just wide and another City effort forced a corner on 26
minutes. The corner was taken short but the return pass
was woeful and intercepted. Two passes later the ball
was with winger Jon-Paul Pittman in space on the left
of City’s box. He worked an opening and crossed
for Phillips to crash the ball on the turn into the roof
of the net from 12 yards giving Danby no chance.
As the rain continued to make conditions extremely difficult,
James Vaughan and Ellison combined well to give Lowe another
opening but he volleyed wide as City still continued to
enjoy plenty of possession. Once again it wa Ellison who
was causing the problems and he forced Young into a superb
one handed save to push over the City midfielder’s
dipping effort from 25 yards for another corner.
Laurence Wilson hobbled off with a foot injury on the
stroke of half-time to be replaced at the break by James
Owen (who appeared to be wearing Tony Dinning’s
Kicking towards the 100 or so traveling fans, Ellison
again tested Young from long range as once again the keeper
just managed to fingertip a fierce dipping effort over
the bar. Such was the power in the shot that the ball
smashed a front row seat in the away end!
Lowe broke free from David McCracken but he sent a shot
skidding wide when well placed as another chance went
Chester were ultimately made to pay for their misses in
the 66th minute when Pittman doubled the home advantage
to put the game beyond City. A free-kick on the left by
Craig Woodman was headed back by an unmarked Chris Zebroski
to Pittman who had the easiest of chances to steer the
ball home from close range past Danby.
Paul Rutherford and Paul Smith joined the action but there
was to be no way back now for the Blues as substitute
Matt Harold almost added a third for the high-flying hosts
in the closing stages.