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Saturday 28 November 1998
Brentford 2 Chester City 1

Brentford: Pearcey, Anderson, Watson, Mahon, Quinn, Bates, Freeman, Hebel, Owusu, Rowlands, Folan. Subs not used: Fortune-West, Bryant, Oatway.
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Cross, Reid (Carson 77), Crosby, Lancaster, Moss (Jones 85), A.Shelton, Murphy, Aiston (Wright 70), Smith.
Referee: M.Halsey (Welwyn Garden City).

It was a very young Chester side that took the field at Brentford as manager Kevin Ratcliffe was forced to make several changes with injuries and suspensions piling up. Martyn Lancaster was given his full debut in defence and fellow youth team players Danny Carson and Darren Moss also took part in their first senior games for the Blues.

Heavy rain all morning had taken a toll on the pitch which was completely saturated under the surface making for quite a few errors on the passing front. Sam Aiston looked lively on the Chester left wing, it was clear City's plan was to get the ball to him early and his probing runs forced a couple of free-kicks and corners though Chester were unable to take advantage of any. At the back Martyn Lancaster fitted in well and looks to have a good future.

The Bees took the lead midway through the first half when Lloyd Owusu, Brentford's leading scorer, claimed his eleventh of the season. A cross from the right was deflected into the air off Davidson's knee and Owusu beat Neil Cutler to head home.

Chester started well again after the interval but again lacked any punch up front and failed to create a clear-cut chance. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe used all his subs in an effort to change things but it was Brentford who extended their lead on 73 when a Rowlands shot from 20 yards took a deflection off Andy Crosby through a ruck of players before finding the far corner of the net .

Chester's consolation goal came in the last minute with Ross Davidson powering home an unstoppable header from six yards following an inswinging Andy Shelton corner to give the large noisy travelling contingent something to shout about. The patched-up Blues left the field to a tremendous reception for their efforts in these troubled times, but we must start picking up points urgently to halt the slide to the wrong end of the table. It's two months now since the last league win, and, should they play at Plymouth on Saturday the about-turn must start there.

This was Brentford's sixth successive home victory, five of them in the league. Owner-manager Ron Noades said after the game: "We've got five injuries, four of them defenders but we got away with it, it was a game we could easily have lost."

Full marks to Ron Noades for organising a collection for Chester on Saturday. When details of the sum raised are released it will be mentioned on the ISA pages.
Saturday 21 November 1998
Chester City 1 Rochdale 1

Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Cross, Richardson (Reid 48), Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Wright (Jones 66), Smith (A.Shelton 86).
Rochdale: Edwards, Bailey (Holt 45), Sparrow, Hill, Monington, Farrell, Carden, Painter, De Souza (Diaz 65), Bryson, Peake. Sub not used: Jones.
Referee: B Jordan (Tring).

The Blues got off to the Wright start with a goal on 24 minutes, but their inability to convert chances into goals and a creaky defence conspired to deny them the victory they deserved.

For 73 minutes, Chester, playing neat one-touch football, created chance after chance after winning the midfield battle.
But only Darren Wright was able to make Chester's domination count as Priest, Murphy, Flitcroft and Smith all wasted chances.

Rochdale also had their moments and Cutler was hardly a spectator in the first half, but the keeper dealt with everything the Dale attack could throw at him very comfortably.

Jonathan Cross's howler midway through the second half, however, allowed the visitors to salvage a point. Cross failed to clear another harmless looking punt up field and substitute Holt popped up to guide the resulting cross past Cutler.
Chester pressed forward after the equaliser and both Flitcroft and substitute Jones was unlucky to see their efforts come to nothing.

Toby Rosenbloom

Chester ought to consider being sponsored by Vernons pools or the Lottery – yet another score draw at the Deva Stadium. And once again City failed to kill off inferior opposition and left their fans bitterly disappointed.

Although I missed it, Gary Shelton’s engagement to newly redundant commercial manager Joanne Stanley was announced before the match – the players gave him the bumps.

History was made at the Deva on Saturday – the first occasion when the experimental flourescent yellow winter ball was used. It matched exactly the Rochdale kit – a cunning piece of camouflage. The players seemed to see the ball all right, though ’Dale had great difficulty keeping it in the ground. We thought, as three balls disappeared over the main stand in the space of thirty seconds that Rochdale had someone catching them in the car park because they couldn’t afford any of their own. But the supply appeared to be endless – does the administrator know?

It was a dour game, with a gusty wind not making passing easy. Play was generally confined to the middle of the park where the traffic was extremely congested. Best chances for City fell to Richardson and Crosby from a pair of Flitcroft corners – the first was headed wide, the second, cleared.

On twenty four minutes Murphy was put through the inside left channel by Richardson and pulled the ball back for Darren Wright to pounce. He trapped the ball then tucked it past the keeper for his first senior goal. Hats off for the best celebration ever at the Deva as Dazza did a cartwheel and double salka backward somersault.

At half time Barrow, noticeably greyer than in his Deva days, brought Holt (On loan from Preston) on up front and he began to make an impression on the game. But still Cutler had not been called upon to make a save. The match was error strewn. Dale fans were beginning to get on the players’ backs. Richardson, who had looked out of sorts was replaced by Reid. Barrow was booed when he took off the impressive Miguel deSouza who had been operating in a forward role and at times looked like Dion Dublin with his breathtaking pace. On came Isidro Diaz, one of the former Wigan three amigos and he soon proved Barrow a master stroke. Diaz’s cross from the right was met perfectly by Holt and his header sailed into the top corner.

With fifteen minutes to go Chester were now scrambling desperately to get in front in a game they should have been coasting. Rochdale looked very shaky at the back. Priest put a header wide. Davidson cut through to the by-line but fluffed his cross, having done the hard work. A minute or two later he hammered a curling piledriver towards the top corner only to see it finger tipped round the post by the flying Edwards.

Davidson was named man of the match for his efforts, Murphy ran him close with a commanding display in the air. Priest was busy, so was Flitcroft but he didn’t really seem to know what his position was (Hmm).
Another frustrating result to a game we were desperate to win. City were the better side but they don’t seem to be able to make it tell when it counts.

Colin Mansley
Wednesday 18 November 1998 – FA Youth Cup Round 1 Replay
Manchester City 2 Chester City 0

Chester City: Conkie, Hughes, Doughty, Carson, Lancaster, Moss, Roberts (Cooper 83), Blackburn, Lloyd (Moore 75), Williams (Hopwood 66).

Chester City’s Youth team were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup last night at Maine Road but provided a stern test for a slick Manchester City outfit. Despite a spirited performance the young Blues didn’t recover from the shock of conceding a first minute goal and were always chasing the game.

Disaster struck when City were guilty of a lack of concentration and the defence failed to deal with a vicious in swinging corner and the ball was forced home at the far post.

City responded with more pride and passion than the Blues senior side at present, but before they could get fully into gear they found themselves two down after 11 minutes. Once again a lapse in defence provided the always dangerous Leon Mike a free header from 6 yards which left keeper Matthew Conkie with no chance. Indeed it was only the agility and versatility of Conkie that kept City from conceding more goals as he denied the marauding home forwards on a number of occasions.

In spite of the early setbacks the young Blues battled hard and did much to contribute to a lively and entertaining game and could well have pulled a goal back on 13 minutes. Skipper Danny Carson split the Man City defence with a superb pass to Chris Blackburn and his cross was met by Wes Kilgannon who, unmarked on the 6 yard line, shot tamely at the keeper.

City were constantly under pressure as the home side controlled the midfield and their pace up front and down the flanks were always a threat.

The Blues rallied well though in the second half, confining Man City to long range efforts as City’s midfield and defence began to gain in confidence. However it was Conkie who was the busier of the two keepers and he produced a number of fine saves to keep his side in the game. The young Chester side never let their heads drop and were denied a deserved goal on 80 minutes when Hodgson in the home goal produced a wonder save to keep out a Kilganon shot after excellent build up play featuring Blackburn and the impressive Chris Hopwood.

So City fall at the first hurdle but they gave a good account of themselves. It will be something these young players will remember for a long time and the experience gained will stand them in good stead for the future. Performances like this give great hope for the Club and are a welcome bonus in troubled times.
Monday 16 November 1998 – Cheshire Senior Cup Round 2
Altrincham 3 Chester City 0

Altrincham: Coburn, Harris, Adams, Timons, Ellender, Robertson (Tobin), Gallagher, Power, Ward, Carmody (Donnelly), and Chambers (Hardy).
Chester City:
Brown, Davidson, Cross, Reid, Crosby, Woods, Flitccroft, Priest, Wright, Richardson. Subs: Smith, Jones, A.Shelton.

Saturday 14 November 1998 – FA Cup Round 1
Cardiff City 6 Chester City 0

Cardiff City: Hallworth, Delaney, Ford, Mitchell, Young, Carpenter, Fowler (Cadette 83), O'Sullivan, Williams (Roberts 83), Nugent, Middleton. Subs not used: Eckhardt, Eamshaw, Kelly.
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Cross (Lancaster 65), Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Reid (Jones 58), Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy, Wright. Subs not used: Brown, Moss, A.Shelton.
Referee: Paul Danson (Leicester).

Well it can't get much worse that this. Quite frankly the scoreline could have been nearer double figures as Cardiff, having sussed where Chester's weakness lies, ran straight through the middle of our defence. Time after time Cutler was left exposed as both Woods and especially Crosby in the heart of the defence were left standing, this partnership clearly isn't good enough. We've not looked good in this department since the departure of Julian Alsford, and what would we give now for another Peter Jackson.

The game was effectively over in the first 15 minutes. By then the home side were 2-0 up. Fowler opened the scoring on 10 minutes latching on to a through ball, shrugging off a half challenge from Ross Davidson and rounding Cutler to side-foot the ball into the empty net. Two minutes later we were two down. A weak clearance by Matt Woods who close to head rather that boot the ball clear fell straight to O'Sullivan. He threaded the ball to Middleton who turned Crosby on the edge of the box before slotting the ball home.

Two point blank saves by Cutler, who was often left cruelly exposed kept the scoreline down until just before the break. John Williams raced clear of the Blues defence wide on the left and his powerful shot was parried to Cutler but the ball fell to Fowler six yards out who shot past Cross on the goalline. Chester's only efforts of note in the first 45 were a Richardson left foot cross/shot that went narrowly wide and a Chris Priest 25-yarder that was comfortably saved.

Things picked up for a little after the break. Richardson had a far post header clawed away at the foot of the post and a Priest shot was cleared off the line by Scott Young – that was as good as it got.

On 55 minutes the Bluebirds added a fourth. A right wing cross was poked home by John Williams who lost his marker and beat Neil Cutler to the ball from six yards. Five minutes later it was five. Delaney gathered the ball from keeper Hallworth, raced up field through our defence round Cross then shot home from a narrow angle for the goal of the game.

Chester brought on Martyn Lancaster for his debut replacing full back Jon Cross. The youngster showed some good strong touches and with the current form of the centre-backs he may be set for a regular run in the side soon.

Cardiff closed the scoring on 70 minutes when John Williams shot home from 15 yards. Many of the 200 Chester fans had drifted away by then after witnessing our worst first round performance in over 40 years, and, no doubt frozen like the rest of us!
Tuesday 10 November 1998
Halifax Town 3 Chester City 2

Halifax Town: Martin, Thackeray, Bradshaw, Sertori, J Murphy, Stoneman, Paterson, Hulme, Williams (Lucas 84), Guinan, Brown. Subs not used: Butler, S.Murphy.
Chester City: Cutler, Davidson (A.Shelton 90), Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft (Reid 74), Priest, Murphy, Beckett (Wright 78), Smith.
Referee: Tony Leake (Darwin).

City were desperately unlucky to come away emtpy handed. This latest defeat after Saturday's setback and several draws which should have been wins, leaves us at the foot of the table. This result put Halifax top of the division, but any neutral would have said that Chester looked the better side. Apart from two saves late in the game, Neil Cutler had little to do other than pick three shots out of the net. All three were undoubtedly good strikes – but in fairness could have (and would have) ended up in the stands in most games.

The first half was fairly even with the teams testing each other in the middle of the field as the game became compressed by two offside traps. The only player to really impress was Richardson who had his best game of the season. Halifax were lucky to go in a goal up after a snap volley outside the box flew past a group of players into the corner. Chester had the latest in a string of good penalty shouts turned down.

City opened the second half on fire and really took the game to the home side. Richardson won the ball well and threaded a direct ball through to Beckett, who took the ball on and fired past the advancing keeper. His celebrations with the impressive away supporters (a turn out in excess of three hundred) left no-one in any doubt of how much it meant to him.

The game was marred mid way though the half with a brawl involving all the players (except the Halifax keeper) and most of the benches. This resulted in two players sent off – Chris Priest and Kevin Hulme from Halifax.

John Murphy scored a well taken headed goal from a Smith cross as Chester continued to dominate. The reply from Halifax was sickeningly familiar as they went straight up the other end and smashed the ball into the net from a narrow angle.

This was followed shortly afterwards by number three which was very similar.

To their credit, Chester's heads never dropped and they continued to dominate and make chances to the end. Reid replaced Flitcroft, Wright came on for Beckett (who limped off with what looked worryingly like a series leg injury) and Shelton came on for Davidson late on.

Davidson, Smith, Murphy and Richardson all went close, but it was one of those nights in the end. Clutching at straws, there must be something in the view that your luck evens out over the season. If so we should look forward to the second half with great optimism.

Culter 6, Davidson 6 (A.Shelton 6), Richardson 9, Cross 7, Crosby 7, Woods 6, Smith 7, Beckett 6, (Wright 6), Flitcroft 5 (Reid 6), Priest 5, Murphy 8.

David Evans
Saturday 7 November 1998
Scunthorpe United 2 Chester City 1

Scunthorpe United: Clarke, Fickling, McAuley, Logan, Wilcox, Hope, Walker, Forrester, Eyre, Stamp, Calvo-Garcia. Subs not used: Bull, Graves, Harsley.
Chester City: Brown, Richardson, Cross, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Reid, Murphy, Beckett, Smith (Wright 82). Subs not used: Lancaster, A.Shelton.
Referee: M.Warren (Walsall).

City will be kicking themselves for not getting at least a point from this game. With Nick Richardson deputising for Ross Davidson al full back, we created half a dozen good chances to score throughout the 90 minutes, but gifted two goals through slack defending. Luke Beckett will have been disappointed with his finishing. He was guilty of a terrible miss early in the second half. A fine mazy run had taken Chris Priest into the box, he drew two defenders before slipping the ball to Beckett six yards out, he leaned back however and sidefiited the ball over the empty net.

The Blues started brightly with John Murphy going close and Chris Priest just firing over with a 20-yarder. Beckett also did well to round the keeper but pushed the ball to wide to give himself a shooting opportunity. Smith also volleyed over when in a good position. The Blues fell behind however on 11 minutes through the divisions top scorer Jamie Forrester. City failed to clear a cross, in fact Matt Woods' attempted clearance was charged down with an elbow and Forrester fired home through a ruck of players. Wayne Brown prevented an instant second goal with a superb tip over following a powerful unchallenged close range header by Russ Wilcox.

City bounced back and forced a series of corners. These proved rather predictable however, though Beckett went close with a header that was deflected over from close range. Just when you thought that if City could hold out till half time we'd get something, the second goal went in. Once again the defence failed to clear a cross and Berkley was given acres of space to head the second on the stroke of half time.

City created more openings following the break. Murphy was once again having a fine game up front, shielding and laying the ball off well. Matt Woods headed across goal from close range and there were several scrambles in the Scunny box. The home side too had their chances. Wayne Brown was almost caught out in possession on the edge of his box and another shot was ballooned over the bar.

The introduction of Darren Wright (far too late for most peoples liking) added an extra spark up front, and it was his work that led to a Chris Priest cross being headed home by John Murphy in the last minute. In injury time City had a free kick knocked down on the edge of the box by a Scunthorpe arm as their late chance for an equaliser went begging.
Wednesday 4 November 1998 – FA Youth Cup Round 1
Chester City Youth 2 Manchester City Youth 2

Chester City: Conkie, Hughes (Moore 80), Doughty, Carson, Pendleton, Lancaster, Roberts (Hopwood 64), Moss, Kilgannon, Blackburn, Lloyd (Williams 37).
Manchester City: Hodgson, O'Keefe, Holmes, Waycock, Duff, Dunfield, Julsen, Wright, Mike, Kneen, Garfield (Allcock 90).
Referee: A.Wood

City's Youth Team came close to causing a major upset here as they held their more illustrious opponents at the Deva. Chester started superbly and raced into a 2-0 lead against the Main Road team who were being watched by Joe Royle.

Centre back David Pendleton gave the Blues the lead on 2 minutes as he headed home following Matt Doughty's corner. Man City responded well creating two good chances but the Chester defence remained solid.

On 31 minutes Chester were 2-0 up through Chris Blackburn. Wes Kilgannon robbed full back Ged O'Keefe and curled a shot towards the top corner. Keeper Steve Hodgson made a great save but could only force the ball back out to Blackburn who shot home.

Two minutes later the visitors reduced the arrears as Shaun Wright's shot was deflected in off Pendleton. Man City created several chances and Blues keeper Matthew Conkie had to be on top form to keep them out. However the pressure told in the end and the equaliser arrived on 57 minutes. Chester failed to clear the danger and Kneen held off two challenges before beating Conkie.

Chester had a great chance to snatch glory 20 minutes from time but striker Wes Kilgannon was denied by keeper Hodgson as he raced through one-on-one.

The game which was sponsored by the ISA was watched by a healthy crowd of 482, and Manchester City chairman David Bernstein generously agreed not to take his clubs share of the gate receipts. The replay is expected to be on Wednesday November 11th at Maine Road.

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