29 November 2003
Chester City 3 Margate 0
Attendance: 1,971 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Brady, Carey, McIntyre.
Chester City: Brown, Collins, Ruffer, Guyett (Bolland
72), Brady (Foster 58), Davies, Varey, Smith, McIntyre, Rapley (Stamp58),
Clare. Subs not used: Carden, Harris,.
Margate: Smith (Mitten 70), Annon, Edwards, Porter, Murphy, Piper,
Leberl, Clarke, O’Connell, Keister (Watson 78), Sigere (Stanhart
75). Subs not used: Zoricicich, PUllman.
Referee: D.Richardson (Halifax).
much of the first half this was a subdued affair. Chester found it hard
going as Margate packed the defence, the weather was dull and grey and
even the crowd seemed unduly quiet.
City began with Stamp on the bench, Rapley taking his place up front with
Clare and Ruffer made a surprisingly quick recovery to step back into defence.
Rapley and Clare had their work cut out and found it difficult to make
headway against the close-marking visitors. Clare managed to lose his marker
on one occasion with a delightful turn but saw his shot beaten away and
Rapley flicked a shot against the post early on. Just before half time
a close passing movement into the box set up Ben Davies but Smith saved
his point blank shot.
After the break City managed to sustain the pressure better. Smith and
Carey in particular began to buzz and run with the ball and set up chances
for crosses into the box. With half an hour to go City sent Stamp and Foster
on to replace Rapley and Brady respectively. As the pressure mounted Guyett
went up to meet a cross and both he and the Margate keeper, Smith, received
treatment for concussion.
Alex Smith ran with the ball and fed McIntyre on the left, he cut across
the area trying to find an opening for his left foot but instead passes
to Davies who fired home from the edge of the box. The deadlock had been
broken. Shortly after this the Margate keeper, still dazed, had to be replaced
and Guyett too gave way to Bolland.
With eight minutes to go Stamp broke free on the left and his cross was
met on the volley by Clare at the far post. From one angle the shot seemed
to be going wide until it hit the keeper but it certainly ended up in the
back of the net. Margate had responded with a brief flurry of attacking
after conceding the first goal, now there was no way back.
Smith, who had taken the game by the scruff of the neck to drive City forward,
set up McIntyre to overlap on the left, his first time cross was met sweetly
by Stamp who steered it just inside the far post and complete a comprehensive
25 November 2003
Chester City 3 Accrington Stanley 3
Attendance: 2,432 Half Time 3-1
Chester City: Brown, Smith, Harris, Guyett, Davies,
McIntyre, Collins, Carey, Brady, Clare (Foster 89), Stamp (Rapley 89).
Subs not used: Heard, Carden, McCaldon.
Accrington Stanley: Kennedy, Halford, Smith, Cavanagh, Brannan, Proctor,
Mullin, Prendergast, Williams, Cook (Calcutt 64), James. Subs not used:
Armstrong, Durnin, Speare, Gouck.
Referee: D.Foster (Newcastle).
this was a change from the usual script. A hard fought game was predicited
but not like this. What ever happened to the “Boring Chester” mentioned
in the NLP?
Carrying on from the cracker of a match at Aldershot this was a remarkable
open game with plenty of incident at both ends. This was partly due to
the enforced changes caused by injuries to Bolland and Ruffer. Tonight
Harris was drafted into the centre of defence with Guyett and Collins either
side. Carden remained on the bench while Carey started. No mention was
made of Twiss, presumably injured.
City took the attack to Accrington and, with Smith in exhilarating form,
their movements were swift and incisive. Carey almost opened the scoring
in the first couple of minutes when Stamp’s pass invited him to shoot.
His dipping effort just cleared the bar. At the other end Stanley seemed
to have plenty of room when they came forward, especially on the left where
Prendergast was the danger. Brady dallied in the box and was robbed of
the ball in a dangerous moment but Guyett made a saving tackle and left
two enormous divots in the turf.
Chester took the lead at the end of a sweeping move. Ben Davies found Brady
in space on the right and was there in the box to meet his first time cross
and head home. A minute later Stamp had a golden opportunity to double
the lead when McIntyre found him on the edge of the area but the big striker
blazed over the bar.
Accrington were level following the award of a free kick for an innocuous
challenge by Collins. The ball was knocked out to Cook whose deflected
shot from twenty five yards sailed into the net beyond Brown’s dive.
Back came City though and they regained the lead when Accrington failed
to clear the ball – McIntyre sent it back into the box and Clare
glanced a goal into the far corner. Earlier Clare had been denied a penalty
when he was clean through but stumbled to a scything challenge. Clare popped
up again on the stoke of half time when Guyett, of all people, crossed
from the right for him to nod his second goal. Kennedy parried the ball
on to the bar but could not stop it crossing the line.
City were now so far ahead – surely the second half would just be
a case of improving their goal difference wouldn’t it? Unfortunately
not. Chester had their lead wrested from them by the combination of a lively
Accrington fightback and some careless defending.
Prendergast got free from a throw in down the left and sent over a looping
cross to the far post. James dashed in to fire the goal in off Brown. City
huffed and puffed but their attack carried less conviction than in the
first half as several players faded from the game. Hearts sank when Prendergast
headed the equaliser while the defenders were guilty of ball watching with
just ten minutes or so to go. It seemed unlikely that Chester could raise
their game to find another goal – by now their momentum had gone.
A tremendous fightback by Accrington rescued their lost cause while City
faded badly. They remain top of the table but the burden of expectation
is so great among City supporters these days that they all went home rueing
the fact that they didn’t extend their lead to three points.
22 November 2003
Aldershot Town 1 Chester City 1
Attendance: 3,610 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Smith, Clare, McIntyre.
Aldershot Town: Bull, Rees, Warburton, Chewins, Hooper, Charles,
Shields, Miller, Challinor, McLean (D’Sane 74), Sills. Subs not used:
Taylor, Nutter, Sterling, Barnard.
Chester City: Brown, Smith (Carden 62), Ruffer (Heard
67), Guyett, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Carey, Brady (Foster 86), Clare,
Stamp. Subs not used: Rapley, Harris.
Referee: G.Chapman (Gloucestershire).
heavy rain couldn’t dampen the all-round enthusiasm
at The Recreation Ground as Chester and Aldershot battled
it out in one of the fastest-paced football games I've ever
Spurred on by a 350-strong away support
packed together like sardines in the touchline South Stand,
the Blues were soon threatening the Aldershot goal when Jon
Brady had a shot on target within the first two minutes.
Brady continued to threaten for most of
the first half, with a number of teasing crosses that never
quite led to goal-bound attempts. But it was Ben Davies who
had Chester’s first serious scoring chance when he
shot just wide of the post after a perfect pass from Daryl
Aldershot had also had a couple of goal-scoring
opportunities by that stage – clearly showing why they
are the Conference’s leading scorers. Lee Charles shone
out as their real dangerman. He proved to be both playmaker
and striker as he passed the ball around and had a couple
of shots for goal.
The most threatening moment of the first
half came when a Shots attacker ran through, looking like
he was dead cert for a one-on-one with ‘keeper Wayne
Brown. But Shaun Carey raced back and made a telling tackle
in the box. Aldershot’s only other close attempt in
the first half came when a well-hit strike flashed over the
Chester had a couple of corners before
the break, with a Danny Collins header being cleared off
the line. But it was honours even when the teams went in
for a well-earned half-time breather.
Although the torrential ran got even worse,
both sides were still on fire when they came out for the
second half. Chester soon won yet another corner (there were
12 in all for the Blues) after Stamp’s fine shot on
the turn had been pushed round the post, and when the ball
came across from Kevin McIntyre it somehow avoided all the
Aldershot players in the crowded box, finding Darryn Stamp
in the right place for a tap-in.
But the attack-minded Shots were far from
beaten, with Charles continuing to harry the Chester defenders – even
wrong-footing Danny Collins. Around 15 minutes after Stamp’s
goal, an Aldershot cross into the box was headed firmly into
the top corner by Jon Challinor.
A draw then semed like a fair result, but
neither side was willing to settle for it and a well-taken
shot by Clare looked in danger of slipping out of the hands
of Aldershot ‘keeper Nikki Bull, with Brady ready to
pounce. But Bull did well to hang onto the slippy ball.
At the other end, Brown won the applause
of his opposite number when he made a top-class save from
a 25-yard Adam Miller free-kick. Brown was also called into
action to save a strike from lively Aldershot sub Roscoe
Mark Wright made three changes for Chester – Jamie
Heard was an enforced swap for injured Carl Ruffer; Paul
Carden replaced the quiet Alex Smith; and Ian Foster replaced
Jon Brady in a last-ditch bid for victory on the 86th minute.
But victory never came for either team,
with Chester appearing the shade happier to settle for a
draw. It was heartening to see the Blues coming across to
salute their supporters despite the driving rain. If only
Conference football was always like this – with the
added bonus of Chester scoring a 90th minute winner!
15 November 2003
Chester City 1 Barnet 0
Attendance: 2,638 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Carey, Davies.
Chester City: Brown, Collins, Guyett, Ruffer,
McIntyre, Davies, Carey, Smith (Twiss 89), Brady, Clare (Harris 89), Stamp.
Subs not used: Rapley, Foster, Heard.
Barnet: Gore, Hendon, Maddix, Plummer, King, Strevens,
Gamble, Yakubu, Beadle (Roach 74), Grazioli, Hatch (Williams 51). Subs
not used: Millard, Rooney, Hogg.
Referee: R.Shoebridge (Ripley).
took a single goal of real quality deep into first half stoppage time by
Alex Smith to eventually separate the two sides though City will be wondering
how they hadn’t capitalised more in a first half that they dominated
for long periods throughout.
The Blues started brightly, Carl Ruffer
was made captain on the day and had a superb game keeping
hot-shot Giuliano Grazioli quiet, the Conferences’ leading
scorer hardly got a sniff of the ball in the opening period.
Smith, making his first home appearance
since re-signigng for the Blues earlier in the week was at
the centre of many of City’s best moves. Confidentially
assured on the ball, he sent Jon Brady and Kevin McIntyre
free on several occasions. Darryn Stamp, Daryl Clare and
Ben Davies all saw efforts saved by the overworked Shane
Gore in the visitors goal while Ruffer hit the side netting
after climbing for a far post header following a teasing
Ben Davies corner.
Stamp failed to make a clean contact following
a McIntyre corner forcing Maddix to clear from close range,
and the striker almost go to the end of a McIntyre free-kick
with Gore punching the ball away just in time. As an attacking
force in the first half Barnet were almost non-existent,
Yakubu’s header was their only real effort on target,
though it hardly troubled the recalled Wayne Brown in City’s
goal. Five minutes before the break though Shaun Carey was
pulled up for a booking after a strong challenge saw him
connect with the ball, and also Simon King. After a long
delay Ian Hendon’s free-kick as charged down.
An earlier head injury to Carl Ruffer saw
the fourth official signal four minutes of injury time. In
the fourth minute of this City took their deserved lead.
Scott Guyett, Ben Davies and Jon Brady played some nice approach
play on the right, the ball was fed back to Guyett who squared
to Smith 30 yards from goal. The midfielder took one touch
to control the ball then unleashed a 30 yarder that swerved
right to left giving Gore no chance, a Goal of the Season
contender if ever there was one.
Following the break the Bees came more
into the game but could have been buried on 57 minutes by
Stamp who headed straight at the keeper from close range
following another City corner.
On 70 minutes Peter Beadle put the ball
in the net for the visitors though the referee had already
blown for an infringement following’s Yakubu’s
push on Danny Collins. Barnet picked up their game and introduced
Lee Roach with 15 minutes remaining. As City were starting
to get pinned back he almost scored with his first touch
heading just wide from Williams’ cross. Smith and Clare
were replaced in the last minute as City anxiously counted
down the clock, forcing two corners in the last minute without
putting a player in the box to contest them!
Blues fans didn’t have to wait long
for that final whistle though that was greeted with relief
all round. Another hard won three point’s to add to
those from Morecambe on Tuesday night and City now proudly
stand two points clear at the top of the table from Hereford
United and extend their unbeaten Conference run to 14 matches.
11 November 2003
Morecambe 0 Chester City
Attendance: 1,959 Half Time 0-0
Morecambe: Mawson, Garnett, Bentley, Perkins, Collins,
Swan (Hunter 74), Walmsley, Stringfellow, Thompson, Curtis (Rogan 75),
Carlton (Murphy 88). Subs not used: Howell, Sugden.
Chester City: McCaldon (Brown 46), Ruffer,
Bolland, Smith (Guyett 90), Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Brady, Clare (Foster
79), Carden, Stamp. Subs not used: Rapley, Twiss.
Referee: S.Brand (Wirral).
goal 14 minutes from time by Daryl Clare was enough to take City to the
top of the Nationwide Conference for the first time this season and was
just the tonic the fans and management needed after Saturday’s cup
exit to Gravesend. City inflicted Morecambe’s first home defeat since
Yeovil Town won at Christie Park nearly 16 months ago, a good omen perhaps?
Manager Mark Wright made a couple
of changes from Saturday’s side bringing in
Alex Smith and Ian Foster for Jamie Heard and Jon
Brady. The first half was generally a scrappy affair
as both sides tried to get control in midfield.
In a half devoid of real chances
Wayne Curtis went closest for the Shrimps hitting
to base of McCaldon’s post with the keeper
well beaten. However the City number one was in action
soon later saving well from Danny Carlton. At the
other end, Ben Davies and Daryl Clare both saw shots
saved and the woodwork also came to the home sides
rescue as Ben Davies almost gave City in the lead
on the stroke of half-time as his thumping 25-yard
volley crashed against the crossbar.
City were forced into a change
at half-time with Wayne Brown replacing the injured
Ian McCaldon. The game continued to be a battle in
midfield until Daryl Clare popped up scramble home
the winning goal. Jon Brady’s right wing cross
was knocked down by Darryn Stamp for Clare to scramble
the ball home form close range in front of the traveling
Morecambe pushed for the equaliser
and their best chance fell to Jim Bentley whose header
was well saved by Brown with Carl Ruffer ideally placed
to clear away the rebound and preserve City’s
priceless three points.
8 November 2003
Chester City 0 Gravesend & Northfleet
FA Cup Round 1
Attendance: 2,252 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Heard, Carden, Davies.
Chester City: McCaldon, Heard (Brady 71),
Ruffer, Bolland, Davies, McIntyre, Collins, Foster (Twiss 65), Clare (Rapley
80), Stamp, Carden. Subs not used: Guyett, Carey.
Gravesend & Northfleet: Wilkerson, Skinner,
Lee, Moore, Owen, Perkins, Pinnock, McKimm, Duku, Walshe (Drury 40), Haworth.
Subs not used: Strouts, Gradley, Abbey, O’Reilly.
stumbled their way out of the FA Cup in extremely disappointing
fashion as they foundered on the rock of a redoubtable
rearguard action from Gravesend and Northfleet. Not for
the first time City were frustrated in their attempts
to breakdown a hardworking side who got men behind the
ball and gave little room for manouvre.
The Blues had begun brightly enough and showed signs of being able to get
behind the visitors’ defence. Ben Davies’ cross just eluded
Foster and then Foster himself crossed weakly when he had done well to
retrieve the ball at the by-line. If Darryl Clare had put away a golden
chance when released by Ruffer’s astute through ball then it might
have been a different story. Nine times out of ten you would have expected
the former golden boot winner to have scored but this time his shot hit
the goalkeeper's legs and was scrambled away.
Instead it was Gravesend who took the lead after a clumsy foul by McCaldon
in the penalty area. Attempting to punch the ball clear, City’s keeper
only connected with the back of Perkins’ head. Skinner scored with
confidence and then his team dug in to defend their advantage tooth and
It is quite painful to watch Chester when they are closed down like this.
They seem to lack that something extra in the locker, the finesse, the
quality to turn territorial advantage into goals. Too often their approach
is ponderous and predictable. The ball gets passed around a lot but no-one
seems to have the confidence to carry it forward and run at the opposition.
Carden tried this on one occasion and very nearly scored towards the end
of the first half. His shot flashed just past the post. Shortly after this
Wilkerson pulled off the save of the match to tip Stamp’s header
round the post.
As the game wore on Wright changed all three forwards to little general
effect, though Twiss looked dangerous when he began to take the ball past
defenders and cause panic. Most of the time, however, City were reduced
to either passing the ball to someone under pressure who was then crowded
out or knocking the long ball over the top which was meat and drink to
opposition defenders. You couldn't fault their effort but imagination was
City’s season is in danger of becoming mediocre unless they can find
the key to unlock some stubborn defences soon.
1 November 2003
Scarborough 2 Chester
Attendance: 1,441 Half Time 0-2
Booked: Ruffer, Carey, Carden, Clare. Sent-off: Carden.
Scarborough: Walker, Redmile, Baker, Cryan, Sestanovich,
Capper, Marcelle (Senior 88), Kerr, Kelly, Quayle, Rose. Subs not used:
Lyth, Sollitt, Graydon, Gill.
Chester City: McCaldon, Ruffer, Bolland, Davies, McIntyre, Collins,
Carey, Brady, Clare (Twiss 78), Carden, Stamp (Guyett 63). Subs not used:
Rapley, Brown, Foster.
Referee: A.Woolmer (Northampton).
Carden’s red card soon after the break was almost
certainly the turning point of a game that at half-time
City looked to be coasting to a win and three more
Kevin McIntyre, Paul Carden
and Jon Brady replaced Ian Foster, Michael Twiss
and Jamie Heard from last Saturday’s starting
line-up that unconvincingly won 1-0 at Blyth
Referee Woolmer was in action
from the start with two cautions in the opening
four minutes. First in the book was Carl Ruffer
after 90 seconds for a foul on Karl Rose to be
followed two minutes by ex-City midfielder Jimmy
Kelly who was cautioned for a foul on Daryl Clare.
Minutes later and home keeper Walker was the
first to be tested as he punched clear a Danny
Collins free-kick. The opening period was cagy
with both sides forcing corners, and City doubling
their yellow card count as Shaun Carey was booked
for a foul on Clint Marcelle.
On 34 minutes the Blues opened
the scoring. Clare picked up the ball and turned
just outside the box, his low shot was parried
by Walker but only to the poaching Darryn Stamp
who knocked in the rebound, against his former
club, inside the six yard box. Three minutes
(and another booking later), Rose was adjudged
to have fouled Stamp in the area and Clare placed
his penalty just wide of Walker to double City’s
There was time before the half-time
break for three more bookings (including Clare
and Carden) and for Walker to make a great fingertiip
save from Clare. While at the other end Quayle
missed a good chance to reduce the defecit heading
straight at McCaldon when well placed.
It wasn’t long afterthe
break though before Quayle was on the scoreset.
The striker, who spent some time at the Deva
last season, was pushed by Phil Bolland in the
box and he gave McCaldon no chance from the resulting
Two minutes later and City
were reduced to ten men. Referee Woolmer decried
that Carden’s tackle on Scott Kerr merited
a yellow card and the midfielder saw red after
entering the referee’s notebook in the
On 63 minutes Scarborough were
awarded a corner. Before it could be taken City
replaced striker Darryn Stamp with Scott Guyett.
The defender had hardly taken his position when
Boro were level as Marcelle bundled the ball
over the line from close range following the
The Blues responded and
Clare produced another quality 25-yard curling
shot that Walker saved smartly, minutes later the
striker was replaced by Michael Twiss. However,
it was the Seadogs who finished the stronger. McCaldon
saved from Quayle, and the keeper responded well
to save from on-loan Sestanovich, having an impressive
debut, as the home side looked for the winner;
but City held firm and had to be content with point
though it should have been more.