30 September 2000
Hednesford Town 0 Chester City 0
Attendance: 1,435 Half-time 0-0
Hednesford Town: Gayle, Robinson, Haran,
Lake, Pointon, Bagshaw, Owen, Cooper, Sedgemore, Bonsall (Brown
74), Russell (Airdrie 74). Subs not used; Bradley, Evans, Carney.
Chester City: Brown, Woods, Gaunt (Lancaster 14),
P.Beesley, Moss (Kerr 56), Carden, Blackburn, Fisher, Doughty,
M.Beesley (Finney 64), Whitehall. Subs not used: Woodyatt,
Referee: G.Simpson (Westhill).
in January 1996 Chester travelled to Middlesbrough and got hammered
6-0 in the FA Cup Third Round. It was a match memorable for Kevin
Noteman's penalty miss and the silky skills of Middlesbrough's "White
Feather". In the next round the Smogmonsters played Hednesford
and the Pitmen gave them a hell of a game, only bowing out by
3 goals to 2. Stuart Lake earned rave reviews on that occasion
for the marking job he did on Emerson. Now he wants to ply his
trade at a higher level but Hednesford naturally want to recoup
a big fee for him first.
On Saturday the ponytailed Lake was easily
the home side's man of the match. Despite appearing overweight
he managed to hold a defence together which had shipped nine
goals in their previous two matches. I have to admit that I yelled "Fatty" at
him as he went for a ball earlydoors but after that had nothing
but admiration for his performance. He had Hednesford's best
effort of the first half a long range free kick which
Brown watched go inches over the bar.
City never really got into their stride in
this hugely disappointing game. One can understand the home side's
caution after two heavy defeats (Though at Keys Park their record
is good) but it made for a deadly dull match. The travelling
Blues fans tried to lift the atmosphere with a "Graham Barrow's
Blue and White Army" counterpoint for a few minutes early in
the second half but even they were defeated by the tedium of
Chester threatened to score only briefly when
they managed to string a few passes together. Moss and Lancaster
looked dangerous down the right but Doughty did not get as much
space as he did on Tuesday night. Whitehall sent a direct free
kick narrowly over the bar. And when the ball was played to feet
in and around their penalty area the home defence looked decidedly
nervous. But City could not retain possession long enough in
midfield to exert prolonged pressure.
In the second half Chester looked the better
side and came the closest to scoring though Hednesford probably
had most possession. Blackburn seemed to mis-hit a shot as the
goal beckoned and later had a crisp effort smartly saved. Woods
headed over after a raking cross from the right by Lancaster
(Who replaced the hamstrung Gaunt after only fifteen minutes).
Beforehand the atmosphere had been a bit hostile with
some good reason among the visiting support. Obliged to
pay an extra £3.50 to pay for the extra police and hired stewards some
from Birmingham City, some from Wolves and some judging
by their appearance from Rentamob, the City fans were
not very gruntled. "Are we Millwall in disguse" sang the scapegoated
Cestrians. None of the stewards even knew where the toilets were
because they had never been to the ground before. The club shop
had packs of Wrexham programmes for sale at discount price and
had a huge poster of Shrewsbury Town (Ratcliffe included) on
the wall. If you were paranoid you might have thought they were
deliberately trying to provoke.
By the end of the game however the anger had
dissipated into utter frustration at such a lacklustre match.
It may prove to be a useful point in the end and both sides will
be happy with a clean sheet. But with R&D chalking up another
win, more ground was lost on the dream of a rapid return to the
League. Chester don't seem to be able to create much against
teams that break the game up. Against footballing sides like
Donny Rovers and Nuneaton we are superb on the counter attack
but we need some creative graft as well.
Oh and by the way. When we entertain Hednesford
at the Deva soon we should make their Directors pay through the
nose and employ DC Evans as their personal bodyguard for the
26 September 2000
Chester City 4 Nuneaton Borough 0
Attendance: 1,708 Half-time 1-0
Chester City: Brown, Moss (Woodyatt
85), Doughty, Woods, P.Beesley, Lancaster, Fisher, Carden, Blackburn,
M.Beesley (Evans 78), Whitehall. Subs not used: Finney, Kerr,
Nuneaton Borough: McKenzie. Simpson, Love, Taylor
(Francis 59), Gittens, Crowley (Angus 71), Brennan (B.Williams
59), Charles, McGregor, Kotylo, Sykes. Subs not used: Young,
Referee: G.Atkins (Bradford).
If City are to put together a good run of results,
they needed to begin here tonight.
After a string of uninspiring home games, City
finally turned on the style with an uncompromising exhibition
of attacking football. Both sides contributed to an excellent
ninety minutes which was characterised by slick passing, strong
runs and open play. Out went the high ball which has characterised
much of our play this season and in came creative passing, running
off the ball and a confidence not seen for quite a while.
early as the second minute, Moss and Beesely (M) combined well
to force a corner as City gave a hint of what was to come. Fisher
looked lively showing awareness of his colleagues around him
especially Whitehall who looked every inch the seasoned professional.
And it was he who after fifteen minutes should have made better
use of a quick through ball, side footing his shot straight at
the advancing keeper.
Mark Beesley and Blackburn hit good shots over
from the edge of the area as City continued to threaten. Doughty
ran hard and determined on the left side with a superb run taking
on two players before sending in a dangerous cross which deserved
Nuneaton, to their credit took the game to
City and in response flashed a shot inches wide Alex Sykes too
hit a crisp volley that Brown did well to hold low to his near
post as play went from one end to the other. City's patient build
up was working well as more gaps started to appear. When the
first goal came though, it did so in an unlikely way. A cross
from the right from Lancaster hit behind the line of players
was spooned up by Crowley attempting to clear. The ball swirled
high and seemed to be going out for a City corner. Mckensie in
goal, it seemed, had plenty of time to follow the ball safely
over the bar but the flight deceived and with an evil spin the
ball squirmed inside the top corner of the goal leaving the keeper
lying crumpled and embarrassed in front of his own supporters.
As welcome as the goal was, it was a shame that the teams should
be separated by a goal so comical. Still both sides deserved
the ovation that came with the end of the first half.
The second half began where the first half
had finished. Both sides were bright and positive. Nuneaton's
Lee Charles looked in great shape, controlling the Nuneaton midfield
with clever possession and neat touches. A former Queens Park
Ranger player he reminded of Milton Graham (remember) and continued
running when the cause later became clearly lost. But the second
period was all about Chester. Mark Beesley on fifty minutes cut
in from the left and crashed a perfect shot in from 20 yards
to remind City fans of what he did against Doncaster. Fisher
and Doughty at this stage were ripping open the Nuneaton defence
showing confidence and a will we have not seen for some time.
As City continued piling on the pressure, a short corner on sixty
five minutes from Fisher was missed by everyone except Beesley
who fired home Chester's third goal with a firm drive from short
range at the far post.
Minutes later, the move of the game. Carden
turned in defence to deliver a cross field ball to Fisher. Fish
showing pace rarely seen continued up the field passed the half
way line shaking off defender after defender. With just the goalkeeper
to beat, he send a clever lob that that saved just in the nick
of time on the line by the last retreating Nuneaton player. It
was the move of the game that deserved better but marked City's
style of play and spirit this evening.
With ten minutes left, Evans replaced Mark
Beesley. Any hint of a slow down quickly went as Evans was sent
through a tired Nuneaton defence to calmly plant a strong shot
for City's forth and final goal of the night. It could have been
5-0 , minutes later as McKensie in goal was dispossessed on the
edge of the area by Evans only for his effort to trickle inches
wide. It was good to see him score, as he did on Saturday, since
his stay at Chester, to this point appeared not to be a happy
Youngster, Lee Woodyatt came on for the last
few minutes showing once more that there is talent coming through.
Nuneaton should be congratulated for playing
the football they did. Like City, they played the ball on the
ground, remained positive throughout and worked well for each
other. They will play worse than this this season and take points.
For City, the lesson must be clear, continue
to play like this and we will continue to rise up the table.
And okay, this report does not mention one or two aspects of
our play which needs improving, but this was our night. It was
good stuff and let's not forget it.
Bring on the Hednesford.
23 September 2000
Kingstonian 1 Chester City 3
Attendance: 1,125 Half-time 0-1
Kingstonian: Farrelly, Boyce (Green
82), Luckett, Allan, Harriott, Harris, Patterson, Pitcher,
Winston, Simba, Akuamoah. Subs not used: Allen, Bass, Basford,
Chester City: Brown, Moss, Doughty, Woods, Lancaster, Fisher, Carden,
Blackburn, M.Beesley (Evans 61), Whitehall (Finney 84), Richardson (Kerr
69). Subs not used: Woodyatt, Greygoose.
Referee: K.Reynolds (East Barnet).
an exclusive interview after the match with Richard Hanford's
six year old son, Robin, Paul Carden revealed the secret of his
successful form this season. Robin had asked him what he had
to eat to be a footballer. "Loads of sprouts" said Paul, playing
the role of a latter day Popeye.
The Exiles, who had sponsored the matchday
programme in order to ensure a meeting room in which to meet
Graham Barrow after the match were delighted that a win for the
Blues left everyone in a good mood. In the end this was a comfortable
win for City after a shaky start to the second half.
By half time the game should have been beyond
Kingstonian. Steve Whitehall had scored a stunning goal on fifteen
minutes, turning and launching a shot into the top corner after
being fed by Fisher. Mark Beesley went close later one
shot was parried and trickled the wrong side of the post and
another was scrambled off the line. At the other end Simba went
close with an effort from the edge of the box otherwise
he was well marshalled by Lancaster, playing in the middle of
With only a slender City lead, however, the
K's were bound to mount a challenge for an equaliser after the
break. They were a useful attacking force, with Eddie Akuamoah
causing Moss problems down the K's left wing. It was Moss's challenge
on Sammy Winston which produced the equaliser. Although Winston
seemed to go down late, Moss was nowhere near the ball and the
referee pointed to the spot. Brown had no chance with Luckett's
It was only seven minutes or so later, however,
when Whitehall went sprawling from Luckett's challenge and a
City penalty was awarded. After Whitehall himself converted this,
Chester never looked back. Andy Evans, (Who replaced Beesley
with half an hour to go), after allowing himself to be caught
yards offside on a couple of accasions, made no mistake when
he swept Doughty's visciously in-swinging corner over the line
for City's third.
The last ten minutes saw City in total control.
Fisher, captain for the first time, saw the K's defence part
in front of him and let fly with a dipping shot, turned over
at the last second by Farrelly.
A successful outing into west London suburbia
then. The Kingsmeadow Stadium is easily the most non-League ground
we have visited this season. Netting behind the terraces stopped
the ball straying into people's back gardens. Partly because
it was a balmy sunny afternoon the atmosphere was very laid back I'm
not sure whether I prefer this friendly ambience to the earthier
buzz of the League or not (Probably not). Having said that the
facilities for supporters beneath the stand are pretty good (A
much bigger social club than at the Deva, for instance and a
big screen TV). At half time City fans could make their way out
of the terrace and into the Saxon Lounge beneath the stand for
a pint. I hope Kingstonian climb the table away from the relegation
zone as their Trophy form last season suggests they should.
But on Saturday it was City who had good cause
to celebrate. Graham Barrow, Neil Fisher, Matty Doughty and Paul
Carden put in a much appreciated appearance at the Exiles gathering.
And Robin Handford vociferous in his support all afternoon made
a cracking interviewer.
20 September 2000
Cheshire FA Umbro Senior Cup Round 1
Crewe Alexandra 2 Chester City 1 (aet)
Attendance: 645 Half-time 1-1
Chester City: Greygoose, Moss (Lancaster),
Doughty, Woods, Gaunt (Berry), Blackburn, Carden, Richardson,
Finney, M.Beesley (Wright), Fisher. Subs: P.Beesley,
A full strength City team take the lead
through Nick Richardson on 11 minutes following a Matt Doughty
corner but are begged back before the break. Alex, consisting of
reserves and youth team players get the winner in extra time.
12 September 2000
Chester City 1 Northwich Victoria 1
Attendance: 1,717 Half-time 0-1
Chester City: Brown, Moss, Doughty,
Gaunt, P.Beesley, Woods (Fisher 46), Carden, Blackburn, Evans
(Ruffer 46), M.Beesley, Finney. Subs not used: Greygoose,
Northwich Victoria: Rigby, Bailey, Ellis, Robertson,
Simpson, Devlin, Norris, Holcroft, Quinn, Fletcher, Vickery.
Subs: Davis, Kimmins, Lauri, Walsh, McDermitt.
was not a good game and the omens were out from the start.
The game was sponsored, by Drive UK which given the petrol
crisis inspired no confidence and when by 7.20 at least three
of the City squad had not yet arrived, I couldn't help feeling
this was not going to be a classic.
The first half was simply quite dreadful.
They began positively and a neat interchange was so nearly
converted by Chris Blackburn whose firm shot deflected over
by their advancing goalkeeper.
Instead of taking encouragement from the
exposure of Northwich' clear vulnerabilities they continued
for most of the first half thumping the ball high up field
to the anonymous Andy Evans whose touch nor awareness of
his team-mates meant City's attacks broke down far too early
to threaten Northwich's defence. On the few occasions when
Doughty pushed forward with the ball at his feet his crosses
were poor with City's best chances largely contained to shots
outside the area.
It was little surprise when on seventeen
minutes, Northwich scored. A measured ball from midfield
sent Gary Fletcher through and comfortably evading the challenge
from Matt Woods stroked the ball past Wayne Brown. Northwich,
using newly signed, Jimmy Quinn, as their target man looked
the more balanced side. In midfield they gave themselves
time, thought more purposely about their passes and with
the pacey Darren Vickery on the left wing supported well
by Neil Ellis looked much like the team to score again.
Just before half time however, City began
to play with greater purpose. Finney whose touch and runs
are an improving feature of his play missed a decent chance
from 12 yards and Mark Beasley one minute later equally could
have done better. But it was a awful and insipid first half
and one greeted, as it was brought mercifully to a close,
with a mixture of relief and derision.
At half time, Barrow must have realised
his game plan was not working and both Woods, who had looked
unconvincing and Evans whose presence on tonight's showing
was (to take a line from Black Adder) like a broken pencil pointless were
taken off replaced by Fisher and Ruffer.
Heaven knows why Fisher has not played
this season since his appearance and that of Ruffer transformed
the second half with City playing like a team driving on
a higher octane. Fish's neat one-twos gave City greater options.
Linking well with Doughty, City grew confidence playing neater
and more confident football. Ruffer too was positive and
penetrating and his understanding with Mark Beasley seemed
both instinctive and natural. Time and time again were City
looked as though they would score breaching Northwich's defence
only to be denied with a desperate tackle or a shot just
As the evening went on it began to look
at though City's luck would not turn. Northwich to their
credit continued to break out of defence with verve and style
and Wayne Brown had to make an excellent save to defence
early on to keep the margin at just the single goal.
On seventy five minutes with City mounting
a yet a further attack, tempers spilt over. Vic's goalkeeper
Malcolm Rigby, waiting for a City corner, retaliated stupidly
to some pushing and shoving and head butted a City player in
gesture more than in contact. His dismissal was predictable
as was the encouragement it gave City to launch further offensives.
One minute later, a cross from the left was met by Blackburn
in a crowded box whose shot flew into the top right hand
corner. It was a excellent strike from a player who up until
them had turned in a mixed performance.
Although further chances fell our way,
the truth is that we were not good enough to take them. City
just ran out of time and juice. The final ball was often
just not there, and Northwich fought bravely for their draw.
Although the second half offered far greater
promise, the game should be judged on ninety minutes and
I'm telling you, it was not all pretty stuff.
This was another disappointing result for
City fans to add to the fruitless return from Yeovil on Saturday.
It is another two points dropped and with Rushden and Diamonds
taking three more points away from home this evening Graham
Barrow must be all to aware of the points gap that is already
developing. He has some serious thinking to do and might
begin by letting his best players do the talking on the field
at the beginning and not on the bench.
9 September 2000
Yeovil Town 2 Chester City 1
Attendance: 2,862 Half-time 1-0
Yeovil Town: Pennock, Piper, Skiverton,
Steele, Tonkin, Way, Smith, Crittenden, Belgrave, Patmore,
Bent (Lindegaard 90). Subs not used: White, Peters, Wheeler.
Chester City: Brown, Kerr (Fisher 63), Doughty, Gaunt, P.Beesley,
Woods, Carden, Blackburn, Evans (Finney 55), M.Beesley, Wright (Richardson
79). Subs not used: Lancaster, Greygoose.
Referee: S.Tanner (Bristol).
Yeovil are one of the better Conference teams then there
is not much to fear. Set against this, on today's evidence,
Chester will have to improve rapidly particularly
up front if they are to make any sort of challenge
in the conference this year. In addition, the back line of
Gaunt, Beesley and Woods is solid if uninspiring but
the system needs two good wing backs to work the flanks.
On today's showing Kerr and Doughty do not fit the bill although
this may be a little hard on Doughty but it looks
like an early return for Darren Moss who travelled with the
team will be set for an early return.
In the first half chances and were few
and far between until a howler by Paul Beesley in the 43rd
minute let in Patmore to score. Chester complained long and
loud that the final pass was offside but Beesley had acres
of time to clear a fairly aimless punt into the Chester half
but only succeeded in chesting the ball to a Yeovil player
who played in the big Yeovil striker to slot the ball easily
past Wayne Brown. Until then the game had been fairly even.
At times Chester passed the ball around neatly in midfield
and Wright went close with a header mid way through the half.
But far too often Chester's passing moves were static with
the ball ending up back in the Chester half followed
by the predictable long ball down the field, On the other
hand while Yeovil were no great shakes, they were far more
direct and in particular Belgrave's willingness to run at
defenders was one of the few bright points of the first half.
In the second half Chester attempted to
take the game to Yeovil and succeeded in penning the home
team back in their own half for of a long period. The introduction
of Finney for Evans after 60mins at least brought some pattern
to Chester's forward play. Finney may not have won much in
the air but at least he made a succession of good runs and
linked up the play. Yeovil however remained dangerous on
the break and it was somewhat against the run of play that
Crittendon scored in the 72nd minute with a low shot just
outside the box with Brown probably unsighted. At this point
Chester moved to a 4-4-2 formation with Fisher coming for
Kerr on the right side of midfield and his passing helped
to prompt a number of attacks. In particular, Mark Beesley
had a useful chance to score but with the ball at his feet
in the box he tried to place his shot which was easily saved.
All seemed lost in the 86th minute when
Paul Beesley was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Perhaps the 4-4-2 formation was a factor but he was badly
outpaced by yet another run from Belgrave and his clumsy
body check left the referee no option having being
booked in the first half a little harshly for a succession
of tussles with Patmore. But as always the 10 men rallied
and threw everything at Yeovil. But the goal when it came
was fortunate to say the least. A left wing corner was missed
by the goalkeeper and almost everyone else except for Bent
standing on the backpost who helped the ball into his own
net. Sensing the possibility of a minor miracle Chester pressed
for an equaliser in extra time. In one furious scramble the
ball rebounded twice from the crossbar before being cleared
by a now panicking Yeovil defence before the referee blew
for full time.
It may be that Graham Barrow feels a little
hard done by. He certainly had a few choice words for with
the linesman after the first goal and also Chester were unlucky
not to grab a late equaliser. But frankly he must know that
he needs a fit Darren Moss at fullback and possibly a left
sided wing back. Beyond that the addition on a new striker
is essential if Chester are to make any impression this year.
As to Yeovil a very neat ground with the bonus of free car-parking
or was that offset by the £9 admission to the stands? Dave Webb has moulded
a well organised side but certainly not outstanding. It is difficult
to believe that they will still be at the top at the end of the season.
5 September 2000
Morecambe 0 Chester City 2
Attendance: 1,557 Half-time 0-1
Morecambe: Smith, Fensome, G.Brown
(Takano 71), P McKearney, Murphy, Walters, Thompson (Black
68), Drummond, Eastwood (A.Wright 68), Norman, Lyons.
Chester City: Brown, Kerr (Lancaster 78), Doughty, Gaunt, P.Beesley,
Woods, Carden, Blackburn, Evans, M.Beesley (Richardson 75), Wright (Fisher
75). Subs: Finney, Greygoose.
Referee: E. Idleston (Whitley Bay).
This was a big improvement from the previous
two games as goals in each half from Chris Blackburn and
Matt Woods sealed, what was in the end, a comfortable victory.
City started the game with David Kerr at full back instead
of Martyn Lancaster and Darren Wright replacing the suspended
Wright's ability to run with the ball added
an extra dimension to the side something that had
been lacking in previous games. Meanwhile Kerr had a much
better game than his previous outing at Rushden. Perhaps
the most encouraging feature was Chester's attempt to play
the ball along the ground more than they had done in recent
games. The lack of any passing movement, together with some
aimless punts upfield, had been painful to watch against
Boston and Southport and all credit to Graham for trying
to change this.
There is little doubt that we are a difficult
side to score against and only Rushden have scored against
us in open play. However I still think that we sometimes
lack the creative spark that an in-form Neil Fisher or Nick
Richardson can provide.
As for the game itself, Chester went ahead
on 37 minutes when an unmarked Chris Blackburn headed home
a Paul Carden cross. His goal celebration made John Murphy
look positively animated. This was Chris's first senior goal
for the club and capped another solid performance.
The second goal came after 67 minutes when
Matt Woods headed in a Matt Doughty free kick from close
range. Its possible that the defence was put off by a manic
cry of "keeper" from the Morecambe goalie who promptly ignored
his own shout.
There was another excellent turn out from
Chester (about 300) at what was another decent non-league
ground and all credit to Morecambe who at least tried to
play a bit of football against us.
2 September 2000
Chester City 0 Southport 1
Attendance: 2,861 Half-time 0-1
Chester City: Brown, Lancaster (Shelton
78), Doughty, Gaunt, P Beesley, Woods (Finney 71), Carden,
Blackburn (Richardson 59), Evans, M Beesley, Ruffer. Subs
not used: Greygoose, Kerr.
Southport: Dickinson, Macauley, Stewart, Linnighan,
Guyett, Clark, M. Marsh, Gouck, Arnold, Furlong, Grayston.
Subs: Teale, P. Morgan, Whittaker, Mamaria, Elam.
Referee: S Brand.
poor performance from the Blues on Saturday. Having had time
to think about the game for a few days it is still hard to
draw anything positive.
From what I have seen so far of the Conference,
there is a world of difference between it and League football.
Teams, including ourselves, appear happy with a point. Maybe
it is our previous status, but both part time teams ie Dover
and Southport simply came to defend. Are we really such "Big
The game was scrappy in the extreme. We
totally by-passed midfield. Blackburn showed willing but
received no service. Carden stills seems to be basking in
his fabulous performance against Doncaster. Ruffer does little.
At times on Saturday he meandered around midfield, neither
attacking or defending. The back three seem solid but lumbering.
Paul Beesley's passing is at times woeful, with Woods and
Gaunt not far behind. Southport showed neatness in build
up, Stuart has always been a good lower league player despite
his passing years.
Mike Marsh did not break sweat, he did
not have to. He was head and shoulders above anyone else
on the pitch. Southport scored from a cast iron penalty decision
after Woods was caught out in possesion, and then threw himself
into a tackle to rectify his mistake. We never really looked
like scoring after that. Lancaster hit the bar, and Blackburn
blazed the rebound over in blind, terrified panic. Pity that,
because he has the makings of a good player.
We had a few scrambles in the second half,
but never really looked like scoring. The criticism abounded
after the match. I must admit to feeling desperately frustrated
by the hit and hope balls up to the likes of Evans and Mark
Beesley. We showed against Doncaster, and in glimpses against
Dover and Southport, when the ball is on the floor we are
a half decent non-league side.
I am not under any illusions we are anything
else. However, when we play route one rubbish, we are a POOR