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28 December 1997
Chester City 1 Scunthorpe United 0

Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, Rimmer, Flitcroft, Thomas (Fisher). Subs not used: Woods, Jones.
Scunthorpe United: Clarke, Neil (McAuley 79), Ormondroyd, Sertori, Wilcox, Hope, Walker (Calvo-Garcia 79), D'Auria, Eyre, Forrester (Murphy 45), Housham.
Referee: Fraser Stretton (Nottingham).

A 2pm pitch inspection by referee Fraser Stretton, ensured the game went ahead after heavy rain had hit Chester for several hours beforehand. As a result the match was played on a glue-pot of a pitch and both sides deserved credit for a quite entertaining game given the circumstances, though City appeared to adapt to the conditions a little better in the opening stages.

Rod Thomas playing on the left, replaced the injured Rod McDonald and Chris Priest returned to the midfield following his three match suspension.

City's cause was helped (or hindered!) by the sending off of Russell Wilcox in the 27th minute for a second bookable offence. Despite being down to ten men, City were finding it hard to break through the United defence. Bennett did have a 'goal' disallowed for offside, following good work by Richardson but chances in the first half were at a premium. Indeed, the best chance fell to the visitors early on when Sinclair was forced to make a superb point-blank save from John Eyre. City did dominate proceedings however, with Rod Thomas once again outstanding.

City attacked the Sealand End with more vigor following the break. Several corners were forced, but, as usual the same old near-post routine brought nothing. Why is Dave Flitcroft the only person capable of taking a corner kick. Surely one of the defenders could add a bit of variety – what do they practice in training? Both Stuart Rimmer and Chris Priest had efforts saved, and Rimmer picked up a rare booking for dissent.

The only goal of the match came on 63 minutes with Chris Priest smashing the ball home from one yard after Gary Bennett's flying header was tipped onto the post by Tim Clarke in the visitors goal. Efforts to double the lead were thwarted by Clarke in the United goal who denied Rimmer and Bennett as City pressed.

Content with their slender lead, City began to sit back and allowed the 10-men from Scunthorpe back into the game. And only another superb save low down in injury time by Sinclair from Matt Murphy preserved City's lead; a win which takes them to seventh place in the division.

The sponsors Man of the Match award went to Rod Thomas but I'd have given it to Nick Richardson, who, once again, had an outstanding game in midfield and is clearly City's most consistent performer at present. At the other end of the scale however, captain Iain Jenkins had another off day and is currently struggling to put any sort of form together.

On a curious note! Why did Gary Shelton watch the second half on his own from the opposite side of the pitch to the dugout?
26 December 1997
Hull City 1 Chester City 2

Hull City: Wilson, Lowthorpe, Rioch, Dewhurst, Hocking, Joyce, Bettney, Rocastle, Darby, Mann, Maxfield (Quigley 85). Subs not used: Wright, Ellington.
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Woods (Jones 71), Rimmer, Flitcroft, McDonald (Thomas 54). Sub not used: Giles.
Referee: M.Messias (York).

Two goals in the final seven minutes gave City their first double of the season. Spencer Whelan and sub Rod Thomas scored the goals to secure City's first ever victory at Boothferry Park in 51 years.

Hull have one of the best home scoring records in the league and boasted ex-Arsenal player David Rocastle. The first half was a dull affair with Matt Woods forcing a save from the home 'keeper and City's Ronnie Sinclair making a great save from Neil Mann's shot.

Chester sent on Rod Thomas for the injured Rod McDonald after the break with Jon Jones coming on for Matt Woods for the final 20 minutes. Rocastle's passing was causing the Blues a few problems after the break. Dewhurst gave Hull the lead on 63 minutes heading home over Sinclair from an unmarked position.

Wilson then produced a great save from Gary Bennett before Whelan's equaliser. Flitcroft took a free-kick near the corner which was flicked on by Julian Alsford for Spenner to head home at the far post.

Straight after the restart Flitcroft thundered a great shot against the bar.

The winner came four minutes later with Rod Thomas cutting in from the left and firing home between the 'keeper and the post. Gary Bennett almost made it three when he shot just wide in the final minute.
19 December 1997
Colchester United 2 Chester City 0

Colchester United: Emberson, Dunne, Gregory, Skelton, Greene, Cawley,Wilkins, Rankin, Forbes, Adcock (Duguid 66), Stamps. Subs not used: Buckle, Lock.
Chester City: Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, McDonald, Flitcroft, Bennett, Rimmer, Thomas (Woods). Subs not used: Jones, Wright.
Referee: Mike Pierce (Portsmouth).

Another dismal away result for Chester against a side who are struggling in the bottom half of the table. No one stood out for City in a performance that was a far cry from the battling display shown on the same ground in February when City were chasing promotion last season.

The match was played in front of only 1,867 fans (Colchester's lowest of the season) and lacked any match atmosphere, surely there would have been a bigger crowd on the Saturday afternoon, even with the distraction of Christmas shopping (you can do that in the morning anyway!).

City manager Kevin Ratcliffe dropped Wayne Brown for this match, with Ronnie coming back, along with Rod McDonald in the centre. Chris Priest was missing through suspension. City started quite well with plenty of the usual passing football and Rod Thomas making several mazy runs down the right wing but with nothing to show for it.

United took the lead through Tony 'Rooster' Adcock, the player the home fans want as their next manager. He was left unmarked at the back post from a corner and rifled home from six yards. The goal was followed by arguments among the City players as to just who was supposed to be marking the veteran striker. A few minutes later a similar situation saw Bennett taking the responsibility.

City had a great chance to equalise but Julian Alsford shot wide of the net following further good work by Thomas.

The Blues started the second half with more purpose. Gary Bennett had a header well saved and Stuart Rimmer just couldn't stretch enough to flick a through ball over the keeper. Rimmer missed another golden chance when the home keeper failed to hold a strong shot by Dave Flitcroft but the striker blazed over from ten yards.

Colchester's second, and killer goal, came from substitute Duguid whose initial cross into the box from the left was cleared straight back to him by Rod McDonald and the home striker lashed an unstoppable follow-up 20-yarded into the net.

City brought on fit-again Matt Woods for Rod Thomas with 15 minutes to go and pushed Spencer Whelan up front, not that it made any difference. Why Thomas was taken off mystified me, and no doubt the other seventy or so fans on the away end. At least he has the ability to create something from the front runners who were starved of the ball for much of the game.

So anotther defeat on our travels, and a visit to Hull City on Boxing Day doesn't look too appealing does it! Unless we start picking up away points very soon (we haven't even drawn away yet!) then we'll continue to languish in mid table. Colchester, struggling in the bottom half of the division, looked a lot sharper to the lose ball than us as the Blues struggled to dictate the game in midfield.
13 December 1997
Chester City 2 Darlington 1

Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Jones, Fisher (McDonald 71), Rimmer, Flitcroft (McKay 88), Thomas. Subs not used: Wright.
Darlington: Preece, Shaw, Barnard, De Vos, Crosby, Atkinson, Oliver, Gaughan, Roberts, Davis (Di lella 78), Robinson (Naylor 64). Subs not used: Brumwell.
Referee: Peter Rejer (Tipton).

Three more vital home points for City which take them into seventh place in the division.

Once again it was winger and 'Man of the Match' Rod Thomas who was instrumental in most of City best moments through the game.

Darlo had the first salvo with a shot on goal from a free kick after a couple of minutes which Wayne Brown saved. Thomas had an effort blocked and then Jon Jones got in the way of a Nick Richardson diving header which appeared to be heading for the net.

Preece in the Darlo goal made a mess of a Thomas cross though no-one could pounce on it as it squirmed through his fingers.

Two efforts brought Darlo back into the game. First Roberts hit the side netting, then Jon Jones cleared off the line a shot from Jason de Vos.

The second half carried on where the first had ended with City creating a string of chances that were all wasted. Great crosses from both Rimmer and Flitcroft were wasted as City failed to get men in the box, though de Vos almost put through his own net but for a smart Preece save.

McDonald replaced the disappointing Fisher on 70 minutes, with Rod Thomas switching to the right wing. And three minutes later City were ahead.

Thomas ran on to Flitcroft's through ball down the right before squaring for McDonald (looking suspiciously offside) to have the easiest of tap-in's, 1-0.

Brown then made two smart saves to deny Gaughan and then Roberts and preserve City's lead. A lead which they doubled a few minutes later with Alsford sliding the ball home after Preece had failed to hold a Richardson header.

Darlington did pull a goal back in the final minute with the ball flying around in City's six yard box it rebounded of the luckless Davidson for an own goal.
9 December 1997 (Auto Windscreens Shield)
Scunthorpe United 2 Chester City 1

Scunthorpe United: Clarke, Walsh, McAuley, Sertori, Wilcox, Hope, Walker, D'Auria, Eyre (Ormondroyd 86), Forrester, Shakespeare. Subs not used: Niel, Laws.
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson (Wright 73), Whelan, Alsford, Jones, Priest, Rimmer, Flitcroft, Fisher. Subs not used: Giles, Warrington.
Referee: Graham Frankland (Middlesbrough).

Just 26 City fans braved the cold December night to travel to this game. Gary Bennett, Rod McDonald and Rod Thomas didn't make the game – all are suffering from the flu bug which is sweeping through the Deva. Replacing them were Jon Jones who started alongside Stuart Rimmer, Neil Fisher played wide left while Ross Davidson was back at right back. The only other change was with the kit, City opting to play in last seasons highly visible yellow away shirts!

The first chance of the game fell City's way on three minutes with Stuart Rimmer's close range volley being tipped over by Clarke in the United goal. Flitcroft then went close as did Rimmer with a 30-yard lob.

Wayne Brown produced a great save from Russell Wilcox's header, and then minutes he denied David D'Auria with another save.

At the start of the second half Davidson headed against his own bar as City failed to create any chances during the second 45 – an all too familiar story on their travels this season.

Scunny took the lead on 67 minutes as Eyre converted a spot kick after Iain Jenkins had handled. Jenkins made up for mistake four minutes later when he cleared off the line after Forrester had rounded Brown. Kevin Ratcliffe then took off Nick Richardson, who was also suffering from the effects of flu and gave a debut to Darren Wright.

Soon after City were level as Walsh handled in the box and Dave Flitcroft smashed in the spot kick. Jones and Priest both missed chances as City looked to score the winner.

However another penalty, given after Wright had fouled Walsh, was converted by Eyre to send City crashing out of the cup.
5 December 1997
Chester City 0 Wrexham 2

Chester City: Brown, Jenkins, Fisher (Davidson 76), Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, Rimmer (J.Jones 76), Flitcroft, Thomas. Subs not used: Sinclair, McDonald, Giles.
Wrexham: Mariott, McGregor, Hardy, Russell, Ridler, Carey (Jones 57), Chalk, Owen, Connolly (Roberts 87), Spink, Ward. Subs not used: Cartwright, Phillips, Wainwright.
Referee: S.Baines (Chesterfield).

Two goals from Karl Connolly just before half time ended City's hopes in the cross-border derby. Despite having plenty of possession in the 90 minutes, City were restricted to just a handful of chances, mostly in the first half.

The game started at a frantic pace and both sides took a little time to settle. Chester enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the opening half hour with Gary Bennett missing a glorious chance, failing to connect cleanly with a Chris Priest cross, then, for the second game running midfielder Nick Richardson hit a post following good work by Dave Flitcroft.

City kept Wrexham pinned back for a spell, with dangerous crosses coming in from the right. Benno again met a right wing cross only to send a flick header straight at Andy Marriott in the visitors goal.

Justifiable claimes for a penalty were turned down after Marriott flattened Rimmer in the box, when the striker was through on goal.

Wrexham's best chance came with a 20-yarder from Connolly that 'keeper Wayne Brown clawed round the post. The keeper then saved well from Chalk.

City went behind on 38 minutes. Owen sent Chalk clear down the right and his cross was slid home by Connolly unmarked on the far post.

As the first half went into injury time, Spenner mistimed a defensive header (or was he pushed?) and Connolly turned and scored with a half-volley from 30 yards.

City needed a quick goal after the break to get back into it, but chances were at a premium and only Whelan and Flitcroft forced saves from the keeper.

Davidson and Jones were introduced with 15 minutes to go, much to late to make any impact. Why weren't changes made at half time when City needed to switch things about?

Rod Thomas was mysteriously named man of the match by the sponsors the Evening Leader. Sure, he had quite a good first 45 minutes, but did nothing in the second half when his supply line dried up. For me Nick Richardson had another good game and Julian Alsford did a good job keeping Dean Spink quiet all night.
2 December 1997
Doncaster Rovers 2 Chester City 1

Doncaster Rovers: Davis, Sanders, Smith, Warren, Gore, Mike, Ireland, Dobbin, Helliwell, Moncrieffe, Cunningham. Subs not used: Brookes, Ramsay, Conlon.
Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Jones, Priest, McDonald, Flitcroft, Thomas. Subs not used: Rimmer, Giles, G.Shelton.
Referee: Tony Leake (Darwen).

An embarrassing defeat for City against a Doncaster side winning their first match of the season at the 25th attempt, in front of only 864 fans (the lowest league gate for over 4 years).

City made three changes from Saturday's team with Neil Fisher, Stuart Rimmer and Gary Bennett sitting it out, (Bennett in the Radio Merseyside commentary box!) and Ross Davidson, Jonathan Jones and Rod McDonald coming in.

Jon Jones gave Chester a perfect start sliding the ball home following confusion in the home penalty area on 13 minutes. The lead lasted only one minute however as Ian Helliwell equalised with a cracking volley into the top corner from the edge of the box .

City did miss their chances through. Jones totally missed a Davidson cross before Davis saved Whelan's volley. McDonald missed two great chances to restore City's lead before the break, the best on 40 minutes when he headed over from a Dave Flitcroft cross.

After the break it was all Doncaster, and they got the winner with seven minutes remaining following an awful mistake by 'keeper Wayne Brown. He threw the ball out to Spenner which hit him on the heel and allowed Smith to step in and score.

Brown saved a third minutes later with a save from Moncrieffe.

The final whistle was greeted by a pitch invasion by ecstatic home fans, not exactly what we wanted with the cup game coming up on Friday.

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