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Saturday 25 August
Chester City 4 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,098 (146 Dagenham) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Murphy.

Chester City:
Danby, Vaughan, Linwood, Butler, Wilson, Partridge, Hughes, Grant, Ellison, Murphy, Yeo. Subs not used: Ward, Roberts, Holroyd, Sandwith, Rutherford.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Roberts, Boardman, Foster, Uddin, Patterson, Saunders, Southam, Huke, Sloma (Graham 72), Moore, Strevens. Subs not used: Okuonghae, Taylor, Griffiths, Thompson.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).

It was great to see the smiles back at the Deva Stadium as Chester’s new attacking brand of football rewarded them with four goals and a healthy spot in the League table.

Both Simon Yeo and John Murphy thoroughly deserved their brace of goals, but credit must also go to the battling midfield, and a defensive line that’s not seen City concede a goal at home so far this season.

And as the evening sun beckoned, it was also good to see the management team of Bobby Williamson and Malcolm Thomson feeling relaxed enough to enjoy a spot of banter with the fans – by light-heartedly taking issue with two supporters leaving a few minutes before the end.

You could hardly blame Bobby though – City had scored four goals inside 40 minutes and were looking like making a fifth right until referee Stuart Attwell blew his whistle after (a surpising) three minutes of stoppage time.

The first-half had been largely a forgettable affair, with newly-promoted Dagenham and Redbridge – cheered on by a band of 146 travelling fans in the corner of the West Stand – making the best of the first 10 minutes.

Both goalkeepers, City’s John Danby and veteran Welshman Tony Roberts, in the Dagenham goal, were tested in the first 45 minutes, but nothing to cause them any real problems.

City did make more of the game towards the end of the first half, but a goal didn’t seem likely and the half-time talk in the home stand was all about the considerable scope for improvement in the second half.

And boy – that’s exactly what happened! City, spurred on by firing towards the home end, were soon playing in a different class from their ex-Conference opponents.

Within five minutes of the re-start, hard-working Kevin Ellison had made a perfect pass to Yeo. He took it well, and chipped past Roberts to register his first goal of the afternoon.

Soon after, the Daggers had a chance at the other end, but Danby made a great diving save and put the ball out for a corner. Dagenham could do nothing with the corner and soon the ball was at the other end again.

Richie Partridge made a couple of dashing runs down the wing and, just seven minutes after the first goal, he laid on a great pass for Yeo, who had no trouble slotting it past Roberts again.

At this stage Daggers looked well-beaten and Roberts took the anticipated banter from the home terrace in good humour. But the smile was wiped off his face yet again when City piled on the pressure and the ball fell to Murphy in the box. He had no trouble notching up his first goal since his move back to Chester.

It was no less of a ‘welcome home’ than Murphy deserved and soon after he was back on the scoresheet again after an impressive diving header from another excellent Partridge cross. I’d forgotten what it’s like to almost lose count at a Chester game!

So let’s all savour the moment of being unbeaten in the League and riding high in the table. I really hope it stays with us, but Dagenham weren’t the toughest of opponents and the trip to Rotherham will be a sterner test.

Sue Choularton.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Saturday 18 August
Rochdale 1 Chester City 2
League Two
Attendance: 3,243 Half Time 1-0
Booked: Roberts, Linwood, Grant, Ellison.

Spencer, Ramsden, McArdle, Crooks, Kennedy, Muirhead (Thompson 62), Jones, Perkins, Rundle (Prendergast 62), Murray (Dagnall 76), Le Fondre. Subs not used: Russell, Doolan. Booked: Ramsden.
Chester City: Danby, Vaughan, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Roberts, Grant, Hughes (Rutherford 73), Ellison, Lowndes (Sandwith 83), Yeo (Holroyd 76). Subs not used: Ward, Carroll.
Referee: S.Bratt (West Midlands).

City registered their first win of the season at Spotland thanks to an injury time winner from summer signing Kevin Ellison. Ellison was sent through by a precise Kevin Sandwith pass to beat the offside trap and shoot under the advancing James Spencer to pinch all three points to the delight of the large City following.

Once again City had to do without the services of John Murphy and Richie Partridge and with Jamie Hand joining Lincoln City there was a debut in midfield for youngster Kevin Roberts.

Chester had an early wake up call as Glenn Murray missed the target by inches in the opening minute as he took advantage of some uncertainty in the City defence. The home side continued to dominate the opening period with Rory McArdle and Adam Le Fondre both bringing saves out of John Danby.

Midway through the first period Dale took a deserved lead. Danby came out to the far post to clear a high looping corner, his punch however lacked any authority and deflected in to the air was knocked down by Murray who saw his goalbound shot blocked by Paul Linwood but straight into the path of Ramsden who tapped home from two yards.

At the other end City were struggling to create anything, Simon Yeo made a hash of a chance after being set up by Nathan Lowndes.

Gary Jones almost added a second just before the break but Danby was on hand to save and keep the half-time score to 1-0.

The Blues started the second period in a more determined fashion with Ellison in the action straight from the off going on a bustling run through the Dale defence before shooting wide across goal. Danby produced another fine save from Murray before City hit the equaliser just before the hour mark.

Once again Ellison was the key player, he showed a great turn of speed down the left wing, beat his marker and cut inside to drag back a cross that just eluded Lowndes but not Tony Grant who slotted the ball home at the far post.

Butler sent a glancing header just wide of the far post as City came more into the game. But the home side still created openings and Murray headed wide to remind City they were still in the game.

Danger man Ellison produced a save from Spencer and Danby did likewise from Le Fondre before the dramatic conclusion to the game.

The home side looked to have grabbed the three points in the final minute with Le Fondre putting the ball in the net at the far post only to be ruled offside; but seconds later and with the game heading into injury time Sandwith, who had replaced Lowndes ten minutes earlier, picked up a knock down midway in his own half and played an inch perfect through ball for Ellison to run through on goal from half-way and secure victory with a clinical finish.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Tuesday 14 August
Chester City 0 Nottingham Forest 0
(After Extra Time. Nottingham Forest win 4-2 on penalties)

Carling Cup round 1
Attendance: 2,720 (475 Nottingham) Half Time 0-0
Booked: Lowndes.

Chester City:
Danby, Vaughan, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Hand, Hughes, Grant (Roberts 98), Lowndes (Holroyd 67), Yeo, Ellison (Rutherford 86). Subs not used: Ward Sandwith.
Nottingham Forest: Smith, Chambers, Morgan, Wilson, Bennett, Commons, Lennon, Clingan, Bastians (Thornhill 71), Holt (Sinclair 103), Dobie (Agogo 78). Subs not used; Roberts, Moloney.
Referee: N.Swarbrick (Lancashire).

City supporters were dealt a double blow prior to this much anticipated cup-tie with Nottingham Forest. Both Murphy and Partridge were unavailable due to injury leaving Chester short of attacking firepower.

This, in the end, was City’s downfall but they can take much encouragement from the way they were more than a match for the League One promotion favourites. Chester’s work-rate was prodigious as they closed Forest down and sought to play the ball to feet in one-touch passing movements.

Chances were limited early on. Hand had an opportunity when a corner found him in space at the back of the penalty area. His driven shot was blocked by a defender. At the other end, Holt found himself in the clear following a rare slip by Linwood but Danby stood up to his shot and saved well. At half time City left the field to a standing ovation for their efforts.

Monsoon conditions enveloped the opening of the second half and Chester seemed to adapt well. Ellison found more room on the left and began to get behind the Forest defence. Lowndes and Yeo worked hard to find an opening but City’s forward line was diminutive without the presence of Murphy and they struggled to carve out chances. In midfield City were outstanding: Grant providing cultured football; Hand contributing a tigerish presence and Hughes working together with them both to make a good unit.

With the game in the balance, Holroyd came on for Lowndes and almost made an immediate impact. From Ellison’s raking cross the youngster just failed to direct his header. A few minutes later he had an even better chance and might have hit the target had he taken it first time but he chose to control the ball and was closed down.

Forest began to threaten too. Danby tipped Holt’s close range header over the bar and the visitors had a goal disallowed for offside. Former Cestrian Agogo replaced Dobie and was a menacing presence cutting in from the left to set up a tantalising chance in the six yard box. The threatened breakthrough seemed to have arrived when referee Swarbrick looked long and hard at a dive by Danby at a striker’s feet and pointed to the penalty spot. But City were reprieved when Holt capped a lacklustre performance by seeing his shot saved by the City custodian.

Extra time beckoned and the home support, roused by City’s tenacious display, got behind them for a final push at eliminating Forest. They breathed a sigh of relief when Agogo rounded Danby and shot for goal and Wilson slid in to clear the danger. With Chester’s players visibly tiring, Williamson threw on Rutherford and Roberts to inject some youth and pace. They did well but City’s rhythm suffered and, in truth, did not seem likely to break through and score.

So to penalties and Forest’s experience triumphed in the end. But Chester fought a brave fight and can hold their heads up high. There are the signs of a promising team in the making here.

Colin Mansley

Pictures © Evening Leader

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Saturday 11 August
Chester City 0 Chesterfield 0
League Two
Attendance: 3,183 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Butler.

Chester City: Danby, Vaughan, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge, Hughes, Grant (Hand 88), Ellison, Murphy (Holroyd 81), Lowndes (Yeo 75). Subs Not Used: Roberts, Ward.
Chesterfield: Roche, Picken, Downes, Kovacs, Robertson, Niven, Winter, Leven (Smith 59), Ward, Fletcher, Lester (Lowry 81). Subs Not Used: Allison, Gray, O’Hare.
Referee: A.Haines (Tyne & Wear).

City gave a spirited performance to draw 0-0 with Chesterfield in their opening day match at a sunny Deva Stadium. Both sides squandered chances to take all three points, and saw a goal chalked off in a game that came to life after the break.

Manager Bobby Williamson gave debuts to seven players and their attacking intent was shown in the opening minutes as winger Richie Partridge, who go the better of his markers all afternoon, crossed for John Murphy who almost set up Nathan Lowndes for a dream opener.

The visitors thought they’d opened the scoring on seven minutes as Jamie Ward slotted the ball past john Danby only to see his effort ruled out by referee Andy Haines for a foul on the City defence in the build-up. The Spireites were enjoying the better of the possession and at time cut down the City flanks with ease.

Ward, who played for Torquay United last season, again went close as Danby was well placed to clear from the goal line The same striker saw a shot roll inches wide after he’d beaten City skipper Paul Butler to a through ball. Janos Kovacs and Jack Lester saw chances go wide.

Danby, player of the season last year for City, had to dive a full stretch to keep out a Peter Levin free-kick. At the other end City were struggling to make headway . Lowndes saw a flick header go wide and their only real chance of note came in stoppage time when John Murphy sneaked in at the back post only to hit a shot into the side netting.

Attacking the home end, the Blues looked lively after the break using wingers Partridge and Kevin Ellison, who’d had a quiet first half, to good effect. Feeding off Murphy’s knock-down’s, Lowndes pulled a shot wide. Moments later Partridge again found the head of Murphy with his right wing cross but the big striker saw Barry Roche in the Chesterfield goal pluck the ball from under the bar.

Murphy found the net on 58 minutes but referee Haines had already blown for an infringement by the striker to rule out the goal. Ellison shot over before the Spireites started to com back at City.

Danby came to the rescue on a couple of occasions and made the save of the match six minutes from time to deny danger man Ward who walked through the City defence unchallenged and should have opened the scoring in front of the 1,000+ away following now seated behind Danby’s goal.

Right at the death City had a great chance to snatch the points as Simon Yeo, who’d replaced Lowndes 15 minutes earlier, was sent through on goal, he took the ball wide of the diving Roach on the left only to turn and drag his shot across the open goal and wide of the far post.

Pictures © Evening Leader

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