25 October 2003
Blyth Spartans 0 Chester City 1
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,105 Half Time 0-1
Blyth Spartans: Turns, Morton (Graham), Atkinson,
Laws, Forster, Leeson, Williams (Bell), Richardson, Joyce, Woodhouse, Phillips
(Dixon). Subs not used: Crutwell, Walker.
Chester City: McCaldon, Collins, Bolland, Davies, Foster (Brady
76), Carey, Twiss, Ruffer (Guyett 76), Clare (Rapley 86), Stamp, Heard.
Subs not used: Brown, Harris.
Clare’s first goal of the season was enough to book City a place
in the First Round of the FA Cup, but they made hard work of it against
stern and testing opposition.
Mark Wright opted for a more attack-minded
side after a run of poor scoring games, with a three-pronged
frontline of Daryl Clare, Ian Foster and Darryn Stamp. Michael
Twiss came in for the suspended McIntyre on the left wing, and
Jamie Heard remained on the right hand side.
Shaun Carey was named captain, replacing Paul
Carden in the centre of the midfield, and lined up alongside
Ben Davies. Meanwhile, Ian McCaldon kept his place between the
sticks following his magnificent display against Hereford the
previous week, with the usual backline of Carl Ruffer, Phil Bolland
and Danny Collins playing just ahead of him.
A cold, but dry, afternoon saw Mark Wright’s men battle hard to
edge out a close encounter against their famous FA Cup giant killing
hosts, who were without the services of former Blackburn, Leicester and
Aston Villa striker Graham Fenton.
The game got underway slightly earlier than
the scheduled three o’clock kick-off time, and it was the
home side who set out to attack from the beginning.
Blyth had been camped inside the Blues’ half
for the opening ten minutes before McCaldon had to be alert to
force a save from Williams’ low effort from the edge of
the box. The Scot was then on hand to punch out a corner, with
Danny Collins charging down the rebounded effort.
City’s first opening came moments later
when an underhit backpass allowed Ian Foster to round former
Sunderland stopper Craig Turns in the Blyth goal, but the diminutive
striker could only find the side-netting with his low strike.
When Ben Davies saw his shot blocked by Turns shortly later,
it looked as if Blyth’s early attacking forays had tired
But after a ten minute midfield battle, led
by visiting skipper Shaun Carey, the home side saw another couple
of chances go begging.
Phil Bolland, part of an incredibly uncharacteristic
City defence, made a last-gasp challenge to dispose of another
Blyth attack, before McCaldon pulled off a top class save to
pluck the ball from inside the post from Ian Joyce’s header
on the half hour mark.
Just as it was looking as if the home side
were going to score, Daryl Clare pounced to fire the Blues’ into
a 43rd minute lead. The striker latched on to Darryn Stamp’s
header on the left hand side to shoot across the goal and in
to the bottom far corner, much to the delight of the 200 or so
travelling support, most of which were camped inside the terrace
running alongside the pitch.
It was a relief for the City fans to see the
former Boston front-man net his first of the season, particularly
just before the end of a first half in which the opposition constantly
posed a threat.
The second half was much the same, with Blyth
attacking in search of an equaliser. Andy Woodhouse saw his solid
drive in the 50th minute saved by McCaldon, who is fast becoming
a cult hero at the Deva Stadium for his match-winning displays.
Mark Wright seemed happy for his side to sit
back on their slender advantage and allow Blyth to attack for
the remainder of the game, something that City have been pretty
used to during the former Liverpool defender’s reign as
Shaun Carey did have a go at breaking the home
net once more, mid-way through the half, but saw his powerful
long range effort clear the bar. Then with just ten minutes left
on the clock, Stamp had the opportunity to finish the match off.
Jon Brady, who was part of a double substitution
involving Scott Guyett to replace Foster and Ruffer in the 76th
minute, crossed for the big striker to head just over the top.
After four minutes of stoppage time, the final
whistle arrived to the relief of the travelling fans as City
took with them a place in the First Round, and a home tie with
Conference opposition in the shape of either Exeter or Gravesend.
But it was a slender win for the Blues, who
were very relieved, and perhaps lucky, to keep a clean sheet.
18 October 2003
Chester City 0 Hereford United
Attendance: 4,418 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Carden, Heard. Sent-off: Heard.
Chester City: McCaldon, Collins, Bolland, Ruffer, Heard, Davies,
Carden, McIntyre, Twiss (Rapley 77), Stamp, Clare (Foster 66). Subs not
used: Brown, Carey, Guyett.
Hereford United: Barker, Green, Mkandawire, James,
Rose, Williams, Pitman, Smith, Parry, Guinan, Brown (Carey-Bertram 69).
Subs not used: Scott, Teesdale, King, Craven.
Referee: R.Lewis (Shrewsbury).
suppose if you pit the most prolific
attack in the Conference against the
meanest defence you could almost guarantee
a stalemate, but, despite the 0-0 scoreline
this was an entertaining top of the table
clash at Deva Stadium. City manager Mark
Wright made one change from the previous
Conference fixture against Woking bringing
in goalkeeper Ian McCaldon to replace
Wayne Brown who found himself on the
Several weeks ago the club changed their
minds regarding the organisation of this match. Originally,
following turnstile chaos and a resulting delayed kick-off
for the Shrewsbury game, it was decided to make this match
an all-ticket affair, days later this decision was reversed.
On Saturday, with the main stand queue 50 deep 45 minutes
before kick-off, and the social club still full of fans
invited to arrive early to watch the rugby on TV another
late kick-off seemed on the cards. The sight of City fans
streaming out of the already full main stand 20 minutes
prior to kick-off and being marched round to fill up the
vacant seats in the almost empty east stand (reserved on
the day for traveling fans) didn’t look good either.
Fortunately everything progressed orderly,
everyone seemed to find a seat and the game started on
time, but why with so much warning, was there still such
apparent disorganisation on the day for a crowd 25% short
Both sides, with hindsight, may have
been happy with a draw but in a game of few chances City
missed a golden opportunity in the dying minutes to reach
the top. The first chance of the game fell to Darryn Stamp
whose left side header was caught by Mathew Baker in the
Hereford goal. The visitors, with ex-City players Mike
Rose and David Brown in their starting line-up, soon bounced
back and Paul Parry could have done better when he placed
a header wide after being unchallenged in the box.
City responded and forced a couple of
corners but McIntyre’s poor kicks were both cleared
with ease. Minutes later Jamie Heard was harshly pulled
up for a foul on Daniel Williams but was yellow carded
after retaliating by kicking the ball at referee Lewis.
Just after the half hour McCaldon was
in the right place to make a great point-blank save from
Steve Guinan as the prolific striker looked certain to
score after a free kick had found its way through to him
on the right six yards out.
City had their moments though and came
close to opening the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
Great interplay between Daryl Clare and Darryn Stamp almost
set up Ben Davies who just failed to reach a tantalising
It was the visitors who came out after
the break the brightest. McCaldon was forced into three
saves early on. First he diverted a Guinan shot round for
a corner before tipping over the bar a Williams drive.
City retaliated with a couple of corners and Ben Davies
saw a rasping shot blocked, while Carl Ruffer, having a
good game at the back, saw a header fly wide following
a McIntyre corner. His best save came following a quick
free-kick, scrambling from one post to the other to just
fingertip a shot round the post.
Mark Wright replaced Clare with Ian Foster
and brought on striker Kevin Rapley for Michael Twiss with
13 minutes remaining. United were pressing at the time
but Rapley was soon in the action shooting tamely at Baker
who saved comfortably low down.
City continued to press, and with four
minutes remaining and the game seemingly heading for a
draw, Tamika Mkandawire tangled with Ben Davies in the
box. The referee, yards behind at the time, saw his assistant
flagging an offence and awarded a spot kick. After what
at the time seemed an unnecessarily long delay Foster stepped
up to take the kick but saw his shot saved by Baker in
the United goal.
Four minutes of additional time were
ordered mostly played out in the Hereford goalmouth. Danny
Collins headed wide from six yards following a Davies corner
and minutes later the game was to end in disappointment
for the sponsors Man of the Match Jamie Heard who was sent
off following a second yellow card.
So, honours even and positions remain
as you were at the top. City continue their unbeaten run
which now stretches to eleven matches and in doing so prevent
Hereford from scoring for the first time this season.
14 October 2003
Chester City 0 Doncaster
LDV Vans Trophy Round
Attendance: 1,141 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Twiss, Rapley, Buckley. Sent-off: Dogun.
Chester City: Brown, Heard, Harris, Guyett, McIntyre, Collins, Carey
(Dogun 82), Brady, Twiss (Buckley 79), Foster (Beesley 68), Rapley. Subs
not used: Bolland, McCaldon.
Doncaster Rovers: Richardson, Beech, Albrighton,
Morley (Maloney 49), Price, McIndoe, Ravenhill, Doolan, Barnes, Tierney,
Gill (Fortune-West 87). Subs not used: Paterson, McGrath, Warrington.
Referee: A.Marriner (West Midlands).
game had something of the air of a pre-season friendly
about it with both managers taking the opportunity to
rotate their squads. With an important league game coming
up at the weekend most City fans would not argue with
Wright’s decision to rest several first teamers.
Nor would they have shed many tears at the end of a narrow
defeat. For clubs with their eye on promotion this is
probably a cup too far – espcially in the early
The crowd of 1,141 was not a bad turn out considering the chilly breeze
and the low key nature of the cup tie. Arguably the club could have dropped
the admission prices for the game but would the crowd have been much larger?
Probably not much. Though with three home games in eight days a concession
for loyalty would have been welcome.
Doncaster began the slicker and more fluent side. It took twenty minutes
for City to get anything like a grip on the game, and get acquainted with
one another. By then Rovers could easily have been three goals ahead. All
the chances fell to McIndoe as the City defence was cut to ribbons down
the right. Twice in a couple of minutes the former Yeovil star burst through
only to fluff a lobbed shot straight at Brown and screw a second opportunity
wide of the goal. Earlier a deflected shot from a narrow angle flashed
Gradually Carey and Harris won more possession in midfield and City settled
into a coherent shape. Brady came back to give cover to the beleaguered
Heard and Twiss began to dazzle down the left wing. As the half came to
a close Chester forced a flurry of corners and had the visitors on the
The second half was quite even, the deadlock being broken when Collins
failed to find touch with his clearance and Tierney picked up the loose
ball. He ran in from the right and emerged from a tackle with McIntyre
to curl the ball into the far corner of the net. It turned out to be the
only goal of the game. Chester came closest to equalising when Guyett powered
a header just wide from Brady’s corner. Incidentally it was a refreshing
change of tactic to see Brady take a right wing corner and curl the ball
away from the keeper rather than the usual constant supply of inswingers.
Rapley could have taken the game into extra time when he latched on to
a long clearance but shot disappointingly wide. Perhaps he was under orders
as neither manager could have wanted this – even with the prospect
of a silver goal. By then Wright had blooded two youngsters – Buckley
and Dogun instead of Carey and Twiss. Dogun marred his debut by being sent
off for a tackle which made Mr Marriner see red. Buckley was booked shortly
after for a foul which seemed to be about revenge for his young teamate's
misfortune. A pointless melee ensued.
A fairly entertaining evening which saw some of City’s fringe players
given a competetive airing. What would the watching Mr Turner have learned
from tonight to prepare for Saturday’s top of the table bonaza? Not
a great deal I would suggest.
11 October 2003
Chester City 2 Woking 1
Attendance: 2,085 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Carden, Clare, McIntyre.
Chester City: McCaldon, Ruffer (Guyett 48), Collins, Bolland, Heard,
Davies, McIntyre, Carden, Clare (Rapley 83), Stamp (Foster 89), Twiss.
Subs not used: Carey, Harris.
Woking: Bayes, Boardman, Sharp, Townsend, MacDonald,
Canham (Cockerill 63), Selley, Pitcher, Smith (Nade 63), Ferguson, Haule.
Subs not used: Sharpling, Northmore, Clark.
Referee: M.Matadar (Blackburn).
bogey laid to rest as City notched their first win
against Woking. It looked as though Chester were going
to run riot and run up a rugby score, the way they
tore into the visitors and created a hatful of chances.
But by the end City had faded badly and home supporters
were left biting their nails.
City had an exciting forward line of Stamp, Clare – back from injury – and
Twiss. They all seemed to combine well as they carved openings in a jittery
Woking defence. Twiss in particular was having a field day. He and Stamp
linked to tee the ball up for Davies’ shot from the edge of the box.
It was sweetly hit and was destined for the top corner of the net as soon
as it left his boot.
For all their dominance City were just one up at half time and Woking had
looked threatening when they counter attacked. McCaldon was called upon
to make a great save, diving courageously at the feet of Pitcher when he
seemed certain to score. The on the stroke of half time, Ferguson just
edged past Collins and then tripped up in the penalty area as Collins stumbled
and caught him. Cestrian hearts were in mouths as Mr Matadar looked long
and hard at his linesman to see if he would give a penalty but – to
our relief he waved play on. To be fair I don’t think Collins meant
to bring Ferguson down but it's the ref's interpretation that counts.
Woking’s Smith and Ferguson had entertained spectators on the North
Terrace with a string of misunderstandings which led to several over hit
passes and the ball going harmlessly by for a goal kick. It was pure comedy
of errors and the two of them continued to argue with each other as they
walked off for the half time cuppa.
City went strangely lethargic after the interval and Woking pressed forward.
Ruffer was soon substituted because of injury and Scott Guyett came on
for the first time this season. Against the run of play City doubled their
lead. A long kick from the back was nodded on by the admirable Stamp, Daryl
Clare dribbled it across goal and teed up Twiss to nutmeg Ashley Bayes
in the Woking goal with a pile driver of a shot.
McIntyre and Clare were booked for petty offences (As was Carden in the
first half). Daryl had netted spectacularly from thirty yards but as the
whistle had gone for offside the ref saw it as kicking the ball away.
City struggled, defending too deeply and seeming to be tired from Wednesday
nights exertions. Substitute Raphael Nade with fresh legs took advantage
and he lashed an unstoppable shot past McCaldon as City’s defenders
back peddled too far. In the end though, the Blues held out for three more
points to close the gap on Hereford at the top.
8 October 2003
Burton Albion 1 Chester City 1
Attendance: 1,711 Half Time 0-0
Booked: McIntyre, Heard, Stamp.
Burton Albion: Duke, Wassall, Williams, Henshaw,
Chettle, Stride, Twigg, Webster, Moore, Howard (Clough 85), Talbot (Kirkwood
58). Subs not used: Ducros, Robinson, Sinton.
Chester City: McCaldon, Collins, Bolland, Ruffer, McIntyre, Carden,
Davies, Heard, Rapley (Clare 71), Foster (Twiss 71), Stamp. Subs not used:
Harris, Brady, Guyett.
Referee: G.Lewis (Cambridge).
paid a high price for not killing off this game.
By the end they were well on top but a penalty
conceded in the third minute of added time cost
them two points.
It was cruel luck on Chester who had played some good attacking football
and taken the game to the Brewers. Wright threw Heard into the frame instead
of Twiss and had a three man attack of Stamp, Rapley and Foster. City seemed
more fluid as a result and played with purpose. Burton were quick and tigerish
in midfield, playing their part in a hard fought contest.
In the first half the two sides tended to cancel each other out – there
was much endeavour but few chances. McCaldon made a couple of saves from
Williams and Talbot but as the half wore on Chester began to press forward
more. Foster had a great chance from Stamp’s knock down but blazed
his shot way over the bar. McIntyre was much closer with a free kick just
before half time which clipped the top of the crossbar.
After the break Chester were much more dominant and began to work the ball
around sweetly looking for the opening goal. Heard ended a good move by
cutting inside and clipping the post with a shot from the edge of the box.
After 71 minutes on came Twiss and Clare for Rapley and Foster. Not long
later City were ahead. Heard’s cross was flicked on by Stamp. McIntyre
robbed Stride on the edge of the area, shimmied past him and struck a venomous
shot which Duke couldn’t hold. Stamp just beat Clare in the race
to knock the rebound in to the back of the net.
City didn’t sit back but kept pressing. Clare cut in from the left
and saw his shot scrambled round the post for a corner. Twiss was cut down
when clean through. But they couldn't find the second goal which would
have made the Brewers wilt.
So it was, deep into added time, that the keeper launched a free kick into
the area and as the ball came down Stamp tangled with a Burton player and
the referee pointed to the spot. Webster made no mistake and there was
barely time to re-start the match.
Back in the Football Tavern the replays on Sky showed Stamp with a hand
on the player’s shoulder but knocked off balance by him first. Stamp
fell and pulled the Burton player with him. Harsh but you see them given.
On the bright side – it’s the first time we have come back
from Burton without having lost and I won’t have to eat again for
two days having sampled a generous helping of faggots and chips at the
famous hot food snack bar.
4 October 2003
Dagenham & Redbridge 0 Chester
Attendance: 1,497 Half Time 0-0
Dagenham & Redbridge: Pullen, Vickers, Beckwith,
Kimble, Janney, C.Piper, Bentley, L.Piper, Bruce, Meechan, Shipp. Subs
not used: Goodwin, Hill, Braithwaite, Mustafa, Lampton.
Chester City: Brown, Collins, Bolland, Ruffer, Davies, Twiss (Rapley
64), Carden, McIntyre, Brady, Foster (Clare 64), Stamp. Subs not used:
Harris, Carey, Guyett.
Referee: S.Tomlinson (Farnham).
may have been plenty of fireworks overhead as Dagenham’s
neighbours held an early Guy Fawkes party, but there
were none on the pitch as Chester failed to find the
spark needed to help them claim three points from the
battling East Londoners.
Mark Wright clearly approached the
game in an attacking frame of mind, with Michael Twiss
making the starting line-up, in place of Andy Harris.
Darryn Stamp and Ian Foster were the chosen strike partnership,
with Daryl Clare sitting on the bench. The only sign
of caution was the total absence of Steve Brodie, despite
being freshly recalled from his loan spell at Forest
But there was soon another reason to
be nervous, when goalkeeper Wayne Brown injured his right
leg in the warm-up. With no replacement keeper available,
it meant defenders taking goal-kicks all afternoon and
left Brown looking vulnerable to Daggers’ attackers.
Indeed, it was Dagenham who looked
the most likely to score in the first half. They’d
clearly done their homework on Jon Brady – doing
a man-marking job which kept him quiet all afternoon.
Chester certainly missed his penetrating crosses as he
was pushed back in defence most of the game.
The first chances of the afternoon
fell to Dagenham when they came close with a couple of
corners. Darryn Stamp was perfectly placed to head the
ball off the line after the most dangerous of the ten
corners they won during the course of the match.
Michael Twiss and Ben Davies both had
half chances for the Blues, but both put the ball on
the wrong side of the netting. Chester’s best chance
of the game came when Stamp collected a well-timed pass
and looked to have rounded Dagenham’s on-loan keeper,
James Pullen. But Dean Beckwith got between the ball
and the goal, and Pullen ended up claiming the ball.
The best scoring opportunity of the
match fell to Dagenham striker Danny Shipp. He collected
the ball on the edge of the area, with only Brown to
beat. But his powerful shot was directed almost straight
at the on-rushing Chester keeper, who made an impressive
dive to put the ball behind for another corner.
The neighbour’s fireworks party
continued into the second half, despite the showery weather,
but Chester still couldn’t muster any sparkle in
midfield, leaving the strikers with almost no real goal
opportunities. Danny Collins didn't put a foot wrong
in defence all game – helping make sure Dagenham
didn’t have too many realistic chances of scoring
Brady was clearly frustrated by the
close attention he was getting and ended up being booked
for tugging on one of the Dagenham players. There were
two bookings for the Daggers – Mark Bentley and
The 150 or so Chester supporters never
gave up on the chance of a goal – after all, the
team seem to have got into the habit of scoring last-minute
winners. The appearance of quality substitutes Daryl
Clare and Ian Rapley, who replaced Twiss and Foster in
the 64th minute, made a 1-0 scoreline for the Blues seem
a distinct possibility.
Both Clare and Rapley looked lively,
but couldn’t quite interchange their passes. When
Chester won a free kick on the edge of the box it looked
like they might earn themselves victory in style, but
Brady’s shot went straight at the Dagenham wall – giving
them the opportunity to race upfield again.
There were a couple of nervous moments
towards the end of the game when Dagenham won two corners – excellently
taken all afternoon by Lenny Piper. But they came to
nothing and when the linesman put up two minutes on the
board, it looked like both sides were happy with a draw.
So it’s been two 0-0 scorelines
in a row for Chester. With the pull of the Sky TV cameras
at Burton on Wednesday, perhaps the team will finally
produce some much-needed fireworks on the field and rocket
up the table with three vital points.