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Tuesday 30 November 2004
Chester City 0 Wrexham 1
LDV Vans Trophy northern quarter-final
Attendance: 5,028 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Vaughan, Hessey.

Chester City:
Brown, Vaughan, Bolland, Hessey, McIntyre (Hope 69), Drummond (Whalley 82), Carden, Davies (Booth 45), Harris, Ellison, Rapley. Subs not used: MacKenzie, Edmondson.
Wrexham: Baker, Pejic, Morgan, Lawrence, Spender, Green, Ferguson, Mark Jones (Armstrong 72), Holt, Ugarte (Sam 67), Llewellyn. Subs not used: Dibble, Crowell, Mackin.
Referee: A.Penn (W Midlands).

Despite a spirited second-half performance from City, a single goal was enough for rivals Wrexham to take the honours in the derby game to move into the area semi-finals of the LDV Vans Trophy.

As on Saturday, due to injuries and suspensions, Kevin Rapley was forced to lead the City line by himself. Wayne Brown and Stephen Vaughan were drafted in at the expense of Chris MacKenzie and Darren Edmondson and, despite an excellent debut on Saturday, Robbie Booth started on the bench.

In front of a passionate 5,000+ crowd it was City who slightly had the better of the opening minutes, Ben Davies testing ‘keeper Matt Baker in the visitors with a free-kick on five minutes that was comfortably saved in front of the visiting fans.

Steward Drummond took advantage of some sloppy play by defender Dennis Lawrence robbing him of the ball on the half-way line. He raced clear and fed the ball through to Rapley on the right but the striker took too long over his control and Andy Holt was able to make a crucial tackle.

Wrexham carved open the City defence only for Mark Jones to shoot over the bar when well placed before the visitors took the lead in 18 minutes. Chris Llewellyn, set up by Scott Green was allowed far too much room on the City left by Kevin McIntyre and his cross was turned in by Basque striker Juan Ugarte from close range at the near post.

Wrexham began to take control after their goal. Ferguson was allowed far too much time and space to run the midfield and City were reduced to speculative punts up field and long-range efforts that failed to test Baker for the rest of the half.

A change was needed and that’s certainly what the City fans got in the second period.

Rush introduced Robbie Booth for the ineffective Davies at the start of the second half and his cross from the right, just seconds after the break was headed wide by Drummond as a transformed City, kicking towards their own packed support, set about looking for the equaliser. Booth tormented the Wrexham rearguard once again just minutes later beating two men before firing a shot across the face of the goal.

Minutes later City looked certain to equalise. Booth again provided the right wing cross for Kevin Ellison, he met it twelve yards out with a looping header that Baker tipped on to the angle, the ball bounced down for Booth just six yards from goal but his shot was blocked on the line by the prostrate Baker and scrambled away.

Ellison was again in the action minutes later meeting another Booth cross with a volley that just cleared Baker’s unguarded post, while Paul Carden, having a very good game in midfield, also saw an effort blocked.

Wrexham brought on Hector Sam, and City Richard Hope as the game endered the last 20 minutes. The Blues weren’t having it all their own way by any means. Wayne Brown was called upon to make excellent saves from Llewellyn, Sam and Green to keep his side in the tie.

As the game headed into the last minute City forced a corner on the right. The flag-kick was met by Phil Bolland who had a free header just eight yards out but his powerful header zipped inches the wrong side of the post, with his head in his hands Bolland’s agonised look summed up City’s night. It just wasn’t to be.
Saturday 27 November 2004
Chester City 1 Oxford United 3
League Two
Attendance: 2,791 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Hope, Bolland, McIntyre, Drummond, Davies, Rapley.

Chester City:
MacKenzie, Edmondson, Hope, Bolland, McIntyre, Drummond, Davies, Harris, Booth, Rapley, Ellison. Subs not used: Brown, Vaughan, Hessey, Lathom, Whalley.
Oxford United: Tardif, Mackay, Roget, Ashton, Robinson, Basham, Wanless, E’Beyer, Quinn, Bradbury, Mooney (Davies 75). Subs not used: Hackett, Brooks, Clarke, Molyneaux.
Referee: N.Miller (Co.Durham).

At the start of an important three games in seven days City slumped to a home defeat against a struggling Oxford United side who had scored only three goals on their travels this season and had been beaten on nine of their last ten outings.

With manager Ian Rush unable to bring in the loan striker he sought, it was left to Kevin Rapley to lead the line on his own as City adopted a five man midfield with youngster Robbie Booth progressing from the youth team to make his full debut. Ben Davies came in for the suspended Paul Carden in midfield.

City almost got off to a dream start in the opening minutes. The Blues were awarded a free-kick on the left, Ben Davies whipped over a quick far post cross to the unmarked Phil Bolland who only managed to head over when well placed.

Despite City having the better of the opening exchanges, United took the lead on 16 minutes. E’Beyer won the ball on half-way and raced through. Richard Hope and Kevin McIntyre tried to close his down but were dissected with a pinpoint pass to Bradbury, he returned the compliment for on-running E’Beyer to clip the ball over MacKenzie from an acute angle.

The goal seemed to knock City out of their stride but after a period of stop start thanks to the continued whistle of referee Miller City equalised. Booth raced away down the right and crossed, Roget made a hash of a clearance straight to Kevin Ellison who picked his spot with a side footed shot past Tardif in the visitors goal.

Following the break City threatened to take the lead. Twice young Booth went close, shooting into the side netting from a narrow angle and across the face of goal, after being cleverly set up by Rapley, on the second.

Drummond must have though he was going to score on 60 minutes. Ellison out paced his marker and rushed down the left, he cut inside and the ball fed through to Drummond just six yards out but his shot produced a superb save from Tardif when a goal seemed inevitable.

The visitors took the lead somewhat against the run on play. The Blues only half cleared a corner to Matthew Robinson outside the box whose shot deflected off the back of a City player and looped in to the net leaving MacKenzie with no chance.

City fell further behind seven minutes from time as Steve Basham drilled the ball home past MacKenzine after Davies had tormented the City defence before crossing.

There was just time for Davies to become the 11th player to enter the referee’s notebook though the majority of the 2,791 crowd had drifted away long before.
Friday 19 November 2004
Northampton Town 1 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 5,625 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Drummond, Hessey, McIntyre, Carden, Bolland. Sent-off: Belle.

Northampton Town:
Harper, Bojic, Jaszczun (Galbraith 57), Willmott, Murray, Rowson, Williamson, Smith, Alsop, Sabin (Richards 82 (Youngs 90)), McGleish. Subs not used: Chambers, Cozic.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Drummond, Ellison, Bolland, Hessey (Hope 52), Edmondson, McIntyre, Carden, Harris (Davies 76), Belle, Rapley. Subs not used: Vaughan, Booth, Doyle.
Referee: M.Thorpe (Suffolk).

It took another great free-kick from Kevin Ellison to rescue a point for City from a very cold Sixfields and maintain their impressive run under manager Ian Rush.

Rush made several changes from the side that won in the FA Cup at Stafford last Saturday. Kevin Rapley replaced Daryl Clare, Andy Harris came in for Richard Hope and Kevin McIntyre replaced Ben Davies.

City were quick out of the blocks with Darren Edmondson having the first shot of the game inside 20 seconds, shooting wide from 18 yards. It wasn’t long before the home team rallied forcing a corner in the opening minute, that was cleared by Harris, and then seeing Julian Alsop heading wide before The Cobblers opened the scoring on six minutes.

City failed to clear a long range free-kick the ball bobbled around the area before Alsop teed up Martin Smith to shoot wide of Chris Mackenzie from 18 yards in front of the 300+ away fans.

Stewart Drummond found himself in referee Thorpe’s notebook for a foul before seeing a header saved by ‘keeper Lee Harper from Paul Carden’s teasing corner. Sean Hessey joined Drummond in the notebook for dissent before City equalised. Rapley was fouled by Fred Murray just outside the box on the right hand side. Right in Ellison’s range, he curled his free-kick over the wall and inside the near post leaving Harper stranded.

City’s joy was short-lived, minutes later the Blues (Yellows) were reduced to ten men as Cortez Belle was given his second straight red card of the season, for a foul on Pedj Bojic. Referee Thorpe was in action again seconds later ordering assistant manager Mark Aizlewood from the dugout as tempers flared on the half-way line.

Alsop missed a great chance to give the home side the advantage as he headed over at the back post. Carden and McIntyre saw yellow before the half was brought to an end without any further real scares on MacKenzie’s goal.

Ex-Cobbler Richard Hope replaced Hessey shortly after the break. Ellison shot high and wide and minutes later was put through 18 yards out one-on-one on goal but was just unable to control the high through ball in time and two defenders cleared the danger. Andy Harris saw a free-kick saved by Harper as City enjoyed a spell of pressure.

At the other end Scott McGleish saw his snap-shot pushed wide for a corner by MacKenzie. The keeper saved well again minutes later low down with Alsop being booked for a challenge on the City shot-stopper.

Bojic had the ball in the net for the Cobblers but the linesman’t flag had long-since been raised for offside as the home side pressed. The Blues defence, with Bolland and Hope at it s centre, held firm as McGleish, Williamson and Sabin all saw shots blocked.

Ben Davies replaced Andy Harris in midfield and almost set up Rapley with a quick through ball. There were loud appeals from the majority of the Sixfields crowd for a penalty as Sabin went sprawling in the area but referee Thorpe booked the player for a dive and awarded City the free-kick.

The home side finished the stronger as they looked to break down a resolute City defence. Phil Boland became the fifth and last City player to enter the book for a foul on the edge of the area, the resulting free-kick was cleared and City held out for another valuable point.

Shrewd parking, ten minutes from the ground at the Sixfields pub car-park, ensured a swift getaway for several Exiles back into town to the Black Lion for the latest Cheese Skittles championship that saw SueC claim the title, won at Rushden, from Howard Jolley.

HOward hands over the title Anyone for cheese?

Saturday 13 November 2004
Stafford Rangers 0 Chester City 2
FA Cup Round 1
Attendance: 2,492 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Bolland, Carden.

Stafford Rangers: Dormand, Brown, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, R.Gibson, Lovatt, Downes, Heath (Grayson 81), Danks (Jackson 73), Wilding. Subs not used: Beale, Dodd, Lindley.
Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson, Hessey (McIntyre 57), Hope, Bolland, Ellison, Davies (Harris 68), Carden, Drummond, Clare (Rapley 65), Belle. Subs not used: Doyle, Booth.
Referee: L.Mason (Lancashire).

City visited Stafford’s Marston Road on a bright, clear and cold winter’s afternoon and progressed to the second round of the FA Cup without too many heart-stopping moments. They took to the, rather bumpy, field with Daryl Clare in the starting line-up, despite stories linking him with a move to Carlisle. Stafford had Justin Jackson and Neil Grayson in their squad – two names that in the past have struck terror into Chester fans but both were on the bench.

Chester kicked off with the sun on their backs. The ball was in the air a lot of the time and when it was on the ground it bobbled. Hessey’s wayward header was latched on to by Danks who burst clear. His rasping shot was tipped over by Mackenzie. Clare found himself clear on goal after Stafford’s keeper and centre half left the ball for each other. Although on the corner of the penalty area Clare’s finish over the bar was disappointing. Bolland was booked for leading an aerial challenge with too much elbow.

In a generally scrappy match, City matched the home side’s industry and Drummond in particular did well down the right. City looked dangerous at set pieces and duly took the lead from a free kick. Davies floated the ball to the far post, Hope headed it back across goal and Belle volleyed in from six yards. They should have doubled the lead when Clare headed into the keeper’s hands following a parried header from Belle.

Stafford, aka “The Boro” took the attack to Chester after the break and caused a couple of scares when City defenders struggled to clear the ball away. But City responded well and began to dominate. They forced a series of corners and Belle went close with an opportunist shot. Rapley came on for Clare. Chester supporters’ coaches, held up on a horrendous M6 until now, arrived to swell the crowd. The drums began to play and City swept forward again. Belle got a low cross in from the left hand touch line. Rapley span and shot and the ball crept in at the far post.

New fences to segregate the two sets of supporters attracted some unsavoury posturing by a small knot of home fans who preferred to taunt the City crowd to watching the match. There’s a sociology thesis to be written about how segregating crowds actually stirs up animosity when none existed before.

City were looking quite comfortable now and Ellison might have had a couple of goals but both times couldn’t keep his shot down. Jackson and then Grayson came on as The Boro launched a late rally. MacKenzie struggled with a looping header which hit the bar and was then scrambled to safety but Chester held firm. They can look forward to a trip to The Shay in the second round to meet Halifax – conquerors of League opposition yesterday.

Colin Mansley

Tuesday 9 November 2004
Altrincham 3 Chester City 0
Cheshire Senior Cup Round 2
Attendance: 249 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Rapley.

Chester City: Brown, Vaughan, McIntyre, Cooke, Ventre, Harris, Booth (Salkeld), Walsh, Lynch (Whalley), Rapley (Rutherford), Lathom.

Chester lose 3-0 at Moss Lane and kiss goodbye to the Cheshire Cup for another season. City fell behind in the fourth minute through a well taken volley, and, despite plenty of possession could have been further behind at the break. Kevin Rapley missed a glorious close-range chance to equalise in the second half and the Blues were punished for that miss as Altrincham went straight up the other end to double their lead. A third goal minutes from time condemned City to defeat.

Saturday 6 November 2004
Chester City 1 Leyton Orient 1
League Two
Attendance: 3,125 Half Time 0-1
Booked: None.

Chester City: MacKenzie, Edmondson (Vaughan 77), Bolland, Hope, Hessey, Drummond (Rapley 67), Carden, Davies (Harris 74), Ellison, Belle, Clare. Subs not used: Booth, Doyle.
Leyton Orient: Harrison, Miller, Zakuani, White, Lockwood, Carlisle, Hunt, Simpson, Scott, Steele, Ibehre. Subs not used: Morris, Barnard, Wardley, Newey, Barnard.
Referee: E.Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).

A tremendous fightback by City culminated in Cortez Belle scoring his first goal for the club. Belle met Harris’s perfect corner to head the ball home in a powerful style reminiscent of Cyrille Regis or Steve “Mean Machine” Johnson. A few minutes after his 83rd minute equaliser Belle’s name was announced as City’s man of the match. Even before the goal he would still have been nominated, having led the line superbly and acting as a focal point for City’s sustained attack on the visitors’ goal.

It was no more than City deserved. Indeed they had the chances to have won the game comfortably but found Orient keeper Harrison in magnificent form. In the first half he tipped Davies’ powerful shot on to the bar. In the second he plucked Belle’s shot from under the bar and his full stretch save from Rapley denied City a late winner.

The first half had been cagey with City unable to get the ball down much a and Orient adopting a cautious but break quickly approach. The flow of play was interrupted frequently by Mr Matadar’s raised flag as Chester forwards were repeatedly caught offside. It was his counterpart, Mr Dunn, who played what proved to be a decisive part in City going behind. He gave a close call for a throw-in Orient’s way and then clever wing play gave the excellent Steele the opportunity to glance in a header at the near post.

It looked as though Orient were going to capitalise on their lead after the break as they came forward with confidence but soon Belle began to lead the City revival. He beat White on the right and sent over an inviting low cross. As Ellison bore down on goal it seemed a mere formality for him to tap it in and score the equaliser. Inexplicably he missed it altogether. Undaunted City forced a flurry of corners. Hope headed just over a couple of times and then Orient had another amazing escape when Ellison hit the crossbar and Harrison saved from Belle’s shot on the rebound. On another break Clare cut in from the left only to see Harrison smother his shot. It seemed as though it was not going to be City’s day.

Chester’s big break came when the visitor’s right back, under pressure form Clare but a long way from the goal line, conceded a corner. Andy Harris, who received rapturous acclaim from the Orient supporters when he came on as sub, then repaid them unkindly as he whipped in the left wing corner. The rest, as they say is history. Belle’s goal could not have been more popular, his unstinting efforts were justly rewarded. City might have snatched it when Belle set Rapley clear and Harrison saved but Orient too came close when Simpson's thunderous shot was tipped round the post by McKenzie.

It was difficult to get Cortez to leave the pitch at the end, so long did he applaud the home supporters. They in returned their appreciation and also applauded Lee Harrison in the Orient goal. Mr Ilderton, the referee, deserves much praise for his contribution to a thoroughly entertaining match – no fuss, no bookings and a good game of football was allowed to happen.

Colin Mansley

Latest League 2 table.

Tuesday 2 November 2004
Chester City 1 Rochdale 0
LDV Vans Trophy Round 2
Attendance: 1,419 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Bolland, Rapley.

Chester City: Doyle, Vaughan, Hessey, Bolland (Hope 46), McIntyre, Booth, Harris, Carden (Drummond 78), Watson (Branch 46), Rapley, Clare. Subs not used: MacKenzie, Stamp.
Rochdale: Gilks, Bertos, Goodhall (Probetts 78), Griffiths, Gallimore, Burgess, Cooksey (Brisco 78), Clarke, Warner (McGivern 64), Atieno, Tait. Subs not used: Edwards, Gibbins.
Referee: P.Danson (Leicester).

Shaun Hessey’s first goal for City was enough to take them though to the northern quarter-final of the LDV Vans Trophy.

Manager Ian Rush rang the changes from the side that lost at Yeovil Town on Saturday. Only Sean Hessey, Phil Bolland and Paul Carden remained from the Huish Park starting line-up as Rush gave debuts to Andy Watson and on-loan goalkeeper Colin Doyle, while Robbie Booth made only his second appearance for the Blues.

The game got off to a slow start, Kevin Rapley clearing an early Dale corner and Stephen Vaughan found himself in the right place to clear a Jamie Clarke free-kick. City’s first effort came on 15 minutes from a Rapley shot that fired wide from 18 yards.

Dale had a great chance to take the lead as on-loan Taiwo Atieno skipped past Kevin McIntyre and crossed for Cooksey who wasted his chance, shooting over the bar.

City made two substitutions at half-time with the introduction of Michael Branch and Richard Hope for Andy Watson and Phil Bolland. It was the introduction of Branch, in particular, that proved a turning point. City looked a different force going forward with Branch and Clare linking well. Shortly after the break, Clare played Rapley through only for the striker to shoot wide before City took the lead.

Booth swung in a near post left-wing corner, Branch headed on and Hessey applied the finishing touch from six yards to open his City account.

City almost doubled their lead minutes later as Daryl Clare was denied as his shot was well saved by Matthew Gilks, pushing the ball round the post for a corner. Branch and Rapley also forced good saves out of the visiting ‘keeper as City pushed for a second to kill off the tie.

Booth was having a great game in midfield and he set Clare up with a delightful through ball only for the striker to once again be thwarted by Gilks.

It wasn’t all Chester pressure though and debutant Doyle saved well from Cooksey’s header, and repeated the feat minutes later to keep out Griffiths and maintain City’s slender advantage to the end.















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