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MAY 1999

Saturday 8 May 1999
Chester City 1 Rotherham United 1

Chester City: Cutler, Moss (Reid 55), Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest (A.Shelton 84), Murphy, Beckett, Fisher (Wright 71).
Rotherham United: Pollitt, Williams (Ingledow 77), Beech, Varty, Knill, Dillon, Scott, Thompson, Fortune-West (Sedgwick 55), Warne (Berry 80), Roscoe.
Referee: R.Styles (Waterlooville).

It made no difference to City's league position that they once again snatched a draw from the jaws of victory but they deserved to win - having been by far the better side. But then again if you can't finish teams off then this is what tends to happen. Most City fans I spoke to afterwards thought the 1-1 score was fitting because it was typical of the season as a whole. The number of home draws we have had - having taken the lead in most matches - is testament to our lack of a killer instinct and a leaky defence. If Luke Beckett had been fit all season City would have been in with a great chance of the play offs. He is a natural goal scorer. He creates opportunites out of virtually nothing. On top of this Luke plays his heart out every match - he's a real asset. His goal on Saturday was superbly taken. The build up had been a bit laboured with Priest playing the ball back out to the left wing one time too often - or so it seemed. But Fisher dinked one of his subtle crosses in and Dillon could only head the ball across goal. Quick as a flash Beckett volleyed it into the far corner.

This was on the stroke of half time. It sparked a brawl at the Rotherham end during which several arrests were made. Presumably the Millers were making merry mayhem amongst themselves.

Further half time entertainment was provided by the ISA half time draw. Bob Delgado (Via a visit to the men's room) and Lucy Meacock did the honours. It was a source of some amusement to many that Cleggy read out the full address of the winner of the video - the local burglars in the crowd would surely have taken note.

City were pepped up by the goal and came out after the interval to pulverise the Millers. Being charitable, the visitors were conserving their energies for the play offs for which they had already qualified. I can't believe they have played like they did on Saturday all season because they looked very weak - nothing like play off material.

Priest worked his socks off and was really unhappy to be substituted a few minutes form the end just after he had been booked. This strange decision by Ratcliffe seemed to hand the initiative back to Rotherham when Scott equalised from a free header at a corner with two minutes to go. We'd seen it all before I'm afraid.

As for the accusations of racial abuse by City players against Fortune-West - they should be properly investigated. We have got to make every effort to tackle racism at every level, especially as we do not have a spotless record on this score. But Ronnie Moore should substantiate the allegations he has made. Otherwise we might suspect that he is using them as a smoke screen to mask his team's poor performance. It appeared to me that Fortune-West was throwing his substantial weight around quite a lot and he seemed to feign injury when challenged (Rashly admittedly) by the pint-sized Moss, in order to get him booked.

At the end we invaded the pitch for our customary end of season salute to the players. "At last" said Cleggy, "The news you have been waiting for". We braced ourselves for an announcement about an offer being made for the club... "The players will be out in five minutes". Still, they deserved the applause - they have been brilliant this season.

Thanks lads. Let's hope most of you are able to be offered new contracts with Chester pretty soon.

Colin Mansley
Saturday 1 May 1999
Darlington 1 Chester City 2

Darlington: Preece, Liddle, Heckingbottom, Bennett, Tutill, Himsworth, Ellison (Dorner 60), Oliver (Campbell 14), Carruthers, Naylor, Atkinson, (Brumwell 78).
Chester City: Cutler, Moss, Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft (Reid 46), Priest, Murphy, Beckett, Fisher (A.Shelton 80).
Referee: G.Singh (Wolverhapmton).

City ended their seasons travels with a deserved win at Darlington, their seventh away victory of the season.

The Blues almost took the lead early on when ex-Darlo defender Andy Crosby his the bar with a spectacular overhead kick. It wasn't long though before the first goal and that went against the run of play to the home side. The City defence stood still as Glen Naylor put his side 1-0 up, the Blues adamant that both Naylor and Martin Carruthers were offside in the build up. City almost fell two behind as Lee Ellison set up naylor for a simple tap-in but he somehow side-footed the ball wide from six yards out.

Chester drew level on 36 minutes through Dave Flitcroft. Darlo failed to clear a City corner and Flitcroft fired in an angled drive from the edge of the box.

John Murphy and Luke Beckett caused major problems for the Darlo defence and Beckett was denied by the fingertips of David Preece in the home goal on the stroke of half-time.

Shaun Reid replaced the injured Flitcroft at the interval. Flitcroft has a foot injury which leaved him doubtful for saturday's final game of the season at home to Rotherham.

The Blues took the lead on 59 minutes through Luke Beckett.Again the home side failed to clear from a City corner kick leaving Beckett with a simple chance. The strike almost added to his total with a 20 yarder later.
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