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Saturday 26 October 2002
Mansfield Town Youth 2 Chester City Youth 1

Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City: Louie Macken, Adam Hunter, Tom Coulson (Danny Ventre), Paul Connolley, Ian Latham, Danny L Ventre, Adam Kelly (Tony McGlaughlin), Matt Cooke, Lee Reece (Mike Simpson), John Moores, Dean Buckley.

The youth team went down 2-1 away to ‘top of the league’ Mansfield Town on Saturday. They took an early lead through Dean Buckley but Mansfield drew level before the break. The winning Mansfield goal was scored midway through the second half.
Saturday 26 October 2002
Radcliffe Borough 2 Chester City 4
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Attendance: 1,138 Half Time 0-0
Booked: McIntyre.

Radcliffe Borough:
Hurst, Battersby (Keeling 64), Whealing, S.Kelly, Diggle, Bean, Spooner, Eilson, Hardy, Banim, Price. Subs not used: Kay, Elliot, Landun, Felgate.
Chester City:
W.Brown, Guyett, Bolland, Hatswell, Brady (M.Brown 60), Davies, Carden, Blackburn, McIntyre, Tate (Cameron 60), Sugden (Ruffer 81). Subs not used: Carey, Twiss.
Referee: D.Richardson (Halifax).

Programme This match came six years too late for me. I’d lived in Radcliffe for five years but never actually made it in to Stainton Park, much to my regret. Mind you, a bit of local knowledge was quite useful in trying to find this venue, tucked away on a housing estate between the Bolton and Ainsworth Roads. We met up with old friends Mark (An Exeter City exile) and his son Richard. “Watch out for a home win if it’s 0-0 at half time” he warned. The pitch had quite a slope on it but as yet Radliffe haven’t managed to use it to home advantage in the Unibond this season.

Inside the ground there was a carnival atmosphere with a burger van straight from the fair ground and a beer tent in one corner of the terracing. We could hear the players’ studs clacking on the floors of their portacabin dressing rooms. “They don't come any bigger than Chester City”, said Boro manager Kevin Glendon in his programme notes. I’ll never get used to Chester being Goliath instead of the customary David.

The match got underway with City kicking up hill. Whilst we were still migrating towards the goal at which City were aiming, Blackburn got through but couldn’t drag the ball out from under his feet to get a better shot in. Chester went purposefully on the attack and moved the ball about crisply. It took half an hour for Radcliffe to get the ball in Wayne Brown’s area.

City’s biggest threat came from set pieces. Bolland nodded down a corner but Guyett scooped it over the bar from close range. Sugden looked as though he was bound to score as Blackburn’s cross-field pass found him clear but he dragged his shot wide of the target. Then the home side won a few tackles in midfield and enjoyed their best spell. Twice the ball fell to Banim and then Wilson but their shots were blocked well by Brown. But the home fans began to sniff an upset as Radcliffe weathered the early storm and went in for half-time level.

Boro continued well after the break with Brown having to parry Banim’s fierce free kick over the bar. But the turning point of the game came with a City free kick on the right. McIntyre looked to have over-hit it but while the ball was in the air the referee noticed that we were trying to bring on a couple of subs and blew for it to be retaken. On came Micky Brown for the ineffective Brady and Cameron replaced the struggling Tate. They had barely taken up position for the kick before City were ahead. McIntyre got the range right second time and Sugden’s backward header looped in to the top corner.

Minutes later Brown bustled through on the right and nutmegged the full back before being brought down. Again McIntyre found Sugden’s head from the resulting free kick and his near post header flew in the back of the net. Three minutes later Sudgen did the spade work retrieving a ball on the left and crossing for the unmarked Cameron to head home.

3-0 was a little unfair on the home side and Banim reduced the deficit two minutes later when he lashed a spectacular free kick into the top corner to give Brown no chance. The home fans’ cheers had barely died down before Cameron put Sugden through to complete his hat trick.

After this Blackburn went close on a couple of occasions with shots from outside the area. But it was left to Radcliffe to complete the scoring in the final minute when substitute Landon’s persistence on the left set up Hardy to score with a lethal cross shot from the edge of the box.

Back at the Papermakers’ Arms a knot of City fans gathered to watch the draw for the next round – live on the BBC. Several false alarms made our hearts flutter before the numbing prospect of a trip to Colchester sank in. The locals tried to cheer us up and all but persuaded the woman behind the bar that the visitors were expecting some butties to be sent down. “Do they normally get butties?” she said, believing that we were perhaps a visiting dominoes team. If we’d been drawn at nearby Bury we could have ensured solid refreshement as well as the delightful Holt’s bitter awaited us. Perhaps we’ll get them in the Second Round.

Colin Mansley

Welcome Beer Tent Pie Shop  
View from the terrace Toilets 3--0  

Tuesday 22 October 2002
Chester City 1 Plymouth Argyle 2
LDV Trophy Southern Section Round 1
Attendance: 1,126 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Guyett.

Chester City:
McCaldon, McIntyre, Bolland, Guyett, Hatswell, Carden, Blackburn (M.Brown 87), Brady (Woodyatt 87), Davies, Beesley (Sugden 45), Twiss. Subs not used: Lancaster, Carey.
Plymouth Argyle: McCormick, Connoly, Malcolm, Adams, McGlinchey, Phillips, Broad, Beresford, Lopes, Lowndes (M.Evans 76), Keith. Subs not used: Chapman, Martin, Wills.
Referee: G.Salisbury.

ProgrammeGiven the difficult windy conditions, with a gale blowing down from the home end, this match proved quite entertaining. Scott Guyett returned from injury and Ian McCaldon was given a game in goal as his month loan spell draws to an end. There was no place though for Steve Harkness and Carl Ruffer, both have not quite recovered from injury.

The Blues took the lead on 28 minutes as Guyett headed home a pinpoint free-kick from Kevin McIntyre at the far post. Earlier McCaldon had kept the scores level by saving well from Beresford.

City couldn’t hold their lead for long though. Five minutes later The Pilgrims were level as Mario Keith shot past McCaldon from a narrow angle to send the sides in level at the break.

Mark Wright replaced Mark Beesley with Ryan Sugden for the second period as the Blues looked for more punch up front but it was the visitors who looked more likely to score and hit the post on two occasions before netting the winner with five minutes remaining, as City’s defence failed to clear a corner from McGlinchey and substitute Evans was on hand to score.
Saturday 19 October 2002
Chester City Youth 1 Wrexham Youth 2
Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City:
Louie Macken, Tom Coulson (Danny Ventre), John Davies, Paul Connolley, Adam Kelly, Mike Simpson (Trialist), Matt Cooke, Lee Reece, Trialist, Gethin Lloyd, Trialist.

The youth team went down 2-1 against local rivals Wrexham on Saturday. Wrexham took the lead on 15 minutes with John Davies equalising five minutes later only for Wrexham to regain the lead on 25 minutes. Chester were then reduced to ten men when John Davies was sent off following an incident with a Wrexham striker. The ten men battled through the remainder of the half and had the better chances in the second period but were unable to convert them.

Saturday 19 October 2002
Woking 1 Chester City 0
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,019 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Hatswell, McIntyre. Sent off: Hatswell, McIntyre.

Woking: Jalal, Allman (Piper 68), Simpembe (Patmore 77), S.Smith, Boardman, Collins, Kember, Hamilton, N.Smith (Banger 80), Sharpling Sbbey. Subs not used: Farrelly, Payne.
Chester City: W.Brown, Bolland, Hatswell, Lancaster, Blackburn, Carey, Brady, McIntyre, M.Brown (Beesley 60), Cameron (Davies 60), Sugden (Twiss 60), Subs not used; McCaldon, Guyett.
Referee: K.Woolmer (Kettering).

ProgrammeIt was like an accident waiting to happen. Chester hadn’t so far conceded a goal in their away games, while opponents Woking had seen 37 goals scored against them.

Woking’s poor start to the season had seen colourful manager Geoff Chapple resign earlier in the week, and Glenn Cockerill step into his shoes for a trial period. Chester needed to buck the football tradition of “new manager=first match victory” if they were to press their challenge against Yeovil at the top of the league.

Chester fielded Woking’s ‘bete noire’ winger, Jon Brady, who walked out on a two-year contract at Kingfield for “personal reasons” just a few weeks ago – only to sign for Chester the following day.

So the scene was set for a head-on collision. But for Chester there was no 999 crew on hand to give them resuscitation when Kettering referee Andy Woolmer awarded a controversial penalty to The Cards in the 84th minute.

Goalkeeper Wayne Brown dived the right way, but couldn’t keep out Ben Abbey’s shot. To make matters worse, Kevin McIntyre was sent off for furiously disputing the penalty decision with the referee. He had to be restrained by his Blues colleagues, and eventually led off the pitch by physio Joe Hinnigan. The accident had happened – and the Blues were the team left licking their wounds in casualty.

You could argue that the match hinged on that controversial penalty decision. I had a good view of the edge-of-the area tussle between McIntyre and Nicky Banger that led to the ref pointing to the spot – and it certainly looked like a harsh decision. Both players were battling for the ball, and Banger made the most of Macca’s attempts to get round him and clear the ball, by tumbling to the ground. Penalty, and game over.

But the penalty decision mustn’t be the only talking point. Chester put on a poor display and should have been well in charge of the match when lacklustre Woking were gifted their penalty.

The first half was a dismal performance by both teams, with neither goalkeeper being particularly troubled until the last five minutes.

The only excitement in the first 40 minutes came from the Woking fans’ constant barracking of Brady. He seemed too desperate to score against his former club – swapping wings with Mickey Brown throughout the half. And it was Brady who seized at the chance to take a free kick towards the end of the half, but he shot well wide.

Chester’s only real first half chance came soon afterwards when Ryan Sugden found himself close in on Woking ‘keeper Shwan Jalal, but Jalal blocked the ball at Sugden’s feet.

Woking then came close when a whipped-in cross was thwacked towards the goal at point-blank range. It happened so fast that it looked like diving Brown had made a fantastic save – but I’m assured that it was Wayne Hatswell who headed the ball off the line.

The second half trundled along in much the same way as the first – with the Blues not really responding to the encouragement of the travelling (and segregated) 400 fans. A Conference outsider would never have believed that Chester are challenging for the title, while Woking are already battling against relegation – worrying. It had to change, and on the 60th minute, Mark Wright responded by bringing on Mark Beesley, Michael Twiss and Ben Davis.

The pace then quickened, and within a few minutes of Beesley’s return to first-team action he was in a one-on-one with Jalal. But the inevitable happened, when Jalal parried Beesley’s shot. Michael Twiss also had a couple of half chances, and it was beginning to look like the game would go our way.

Chris Blackburn continued to be tireless in midfield – although responsible for more than his fair share of poor passes, and I’ve rarely seen Beesley’s face filled with such determination. Phil Bolland was the usual rock in the centre of defence. But the penalty decision came, and the team caved in.

Hatswell soon followed McIntyre into the early bath when he was sent off for a second yellow card. His first yellow card was a harsh first half decision, and the second made it inevitable that Chester’s fantastic away record would come to an end.

Our away trip was due to end with chairman Stephen Vaughan meeting the Exiles supporters in the Woking bar. But he was nowhere to be seen – whether it was due to disappointment or disinclination, it meant our day was an all-round let down.

The Blues were kept in the changing room until around 5.30pm. With just one point from the last three games, they’re not playing like promotion candidates, and the midfield seemed particularly directionless without Jimmy Kelly. Let’s hope they’ve been inspired by those post-match changing room “discussions”.

Hatswell Off John Brady  
Sue Choularton

Wednesday 16 October 2002
Chester City Reserves 7 Osset Town Reserves 0
Lancashire League Division One

Chester City:
Worsnop, Woodyatt, Keegan, Lancaster (Connolly), J.Davies, Blackburn (Kelly), B.Davies, Watkins, Twiss, Tate (Beesley), Brodie.

A comfortable win for City with goals from Twiss (2), Beesley, Woodyatt, Blackburn, B Davies, and Watkins.

Sunday 13 October 2002
Chester City 1 Gravesend & Northfleet 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,210 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Bolland.

Chester City: McCaldon, Ruffer, Bolland, Hatswell, Brady, Carey, Kelly, McIntyre, M.Brown (Twiss 83), Cameron, Sugden. Subs not used: W.Brown, Blackburn, Carden, Lancaster.
Gravesend & Northfleet: Wilkerson, Lee, Watts, Cole, Jackson (Booth 23), McKimm, Strouts, Kwashi (Sodje 69), Barr, Stadhart, Hatch (Grace 83). Subs not used: Turner, Owen.
Referee: G Mellor (South Yorkshire).

Programme Chairman Steve Vaughan upped his offer for Boston’s want-away striker Daryl Clare after City once again failed to convert a number of chances to drop two points against Gravsend & Northfleet. The Blues dominated for large periods, especially following the break, but were guilty of not converting chances into goals in a frustrating performance.

Once again Steve Harkness and Scott Guyett missed out through injurt though manager Mark Wright made a number of changes from the side that lost its unbeaten record onTuesday. Ian McCaldon returned between the sticks while Shaun Carey and Mickey Brown replaced Paul Carden and Chris Blackburn.

As on Tuesday, the Blues alsmost fell behind again in the first minute when Tostao Kwashi missed his kick from just 10 yards after being set-up by Jimmy Strouts. Five minutes later Sugden saw City’s first effort on goal deflected wide. The Blues were getting on top with most of their chances being created down the right, and they looked like they’d take the lead on 18 minutes. Rynn Sugden was put through on goal by Jimy Kelly, he appeared to lose control of the ball but regained his composure to blast a left footer towards the corner only for ’keeper Wilkerson to make a great save to push the shot wide.

Kevin McIntyre and Sugden both missed half-chances before, on 22 minutes, the stretcher bearers were called into action for the first time. A strong 50/50 challenge between McIntyre and Jimmy Jackson saw the latter carried off after a lengthy delay for treatment.

Great work by McIntyre on the half hour put in Sugden whose pull-back for Dave Cameron saw the big striker waste another effort, a minute later and the visitors took the lead. Gravesend broke quickly and Kwashi was left unmarked in acres of space on the right, his near-post cross was met by a stooping Booth who headed home in the corner past McCaldon from six yards.

The Blues responded with an equaliser five minutes later. McIntyre intercepted the ball near the corner flag, cut inside and slipped a pass to Brown whose pull-back was slotted home by Syugden into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

City could have taken the lead in the fifth minute of injury time but Dave Cameron somehow managed to deflect Brown’s goalbound header over the bar.

The Blues, no doubt suffering from half-time earache, came out guns blazing and a great move in the opening seconds almost brought dividends. Cameron raced down the right after a through ball from Wayne Hatswell, his swift near post cross was met by Ryan Sugden whose right foot first time shot was well saved by Wilkerson low down at the foot of his left hand post.

Kicking towards the home end City piled on the pressure, though more and more of thweir attacking play seemed to be halted by the linesmans flag. Mickey Brown's left wing cross was headed over by Cameron and McIntyre also went close with a long range effort, and Shaun Carey, having a good game in midfield supported well.

On a rare Gravesend breakaway Phill Bolland came to City’s rescue when he superbly marshalled Sodje to safety after the substitute was almost left with a one-and-one on McCaldon.

City hade a geat chance to take the lead with 20 minutes remaining. Once again Cameron was fed on the right hand side and his low hard cross beat Wilkerson but Sugden coming in at the far post stumbled on his shot from six yards and the keeper was able to smother the ball. City also had two quick free-kick’s in succession but both chances were wasted.

The Blues thought they had scored their second on 75 minutes when the ball was scrambled into the net following a corner, once again though the raised linesmans flag brought fustrtation for City’s fans and players alike.

Minutes later Fleet had their second player, Stadhart, stretchered off after colliding with McCaldon on the edge of the box. Despite nine minutes of added time in the second period, and a flurry or corners, City were unable to turn chances into goals despite the visitors being reduced to ten men in the dying minutes as the previously booked Strouts was red-carded for flooring Cameron.

No Goal The Opposition    

Saturday 12 October 2002
Chester City Youth 1 Chesterfield Youth 0
Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City:
Louie Macken, Tom Coulson, John Davies, Paul Connolley, Adam Kelly, Mike Simpson, Matt Cooke, Lee Reece, Trialist, Gethin Lloyd, Trialist.

The youth team secured a well deserved 1-0 home win against Chesterfield on Saturday. Iain Jenkins’ work on the training ground appeared to have paid off with a solid team performance with Chester dominating for long periods. Victory was secured midway through the second half when a deep cross from the left was volleyed home unerringly by midfield skipper Adam Kelly.

Tuesday 8 October 2002
Chester City 1 Nuneaton Borough 2
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 2,564 Half Time 0-1
Booked: Hatswell.

Chester City: W.Brown, Ruffer, Bolland, Hatswell, McIntyre, Blackburn, Kelly, Carden (Davies 80), Brady (M.Brown 80), Sugden (Twiss 80), Cameron. Subs not used: Lancaster, McCaldon.
Nuneaton Borough: MacKenzie, Thackeray, Squires, Angus, Love, Woodley, Turner, Hunter, Lenton, Quayle, McGregor, Subs not used: Hodgson, Jones, Lavery, Cooper, Peyton.
Referee: M.Williams (Hereford).

ProgrammeThe bright lights of the Sky media circus came to the Deva, the floodlights were augmented with an extra row of bulbs, and like rabbits caught in the glare of oncoming headlamps, City froze and were squashed.

What a let down! It was typical of Chester sides of the past to falter when they found themselves in the spotlight but so far the new improved version of this season has stood up well. True, City were struggling with injuries – Guyett and Harkness were sorely missed but there is something more profound wrong with the way the team play that was exposed by a desperate Nuneaton Borough. Desperate because they had lost their last three games, the visitors were given a dream start.

Hatswell, making a surprsingly swift return from injury, though both his damaged hands were still bandaged up, fouled in the first minute. From the resulting free kick Kelly seemed to be clearing the danger when he allowed himself to be dispossessed by Quayle. He got behind the defence and passed for Terry Angus to bundle the ball over the line.

City swept forward, urged on by their biggest and most enthusiastic crowd of the season so far. New signing Brady saw quite a lot of the ball and made a couple of promising crosses but no one got on the end of them and City hardly troubled the keeper for all their huffing and puffing.

Cameron – in favour following his goal at Margate on Saturday – put himself about a bit and fought off several defenders in his efforts to hold the ball up. Angus was paying particular close attention and after a series of niggling fouls and a talking to from the ref, was booked for persistent fouling. Three minutes later Angus recklessly felled Cameron again and was dismissed. City couldn’t make their man advantage tell though and went in to the break a goal down.

It didn’t take Chester long into the second half to get on level terms. A series of corners piled pressure on the Borough and they cracked when Sugden converted McIntyre’s kick for the equaliser. Cue City fans’ relieved celebrations and the expectancy of a winner to follow.

Strangely City simply could not build on their numerical advantage to breakdown a resolute Nuneaton. Chester’s approach play was ponderous and predictable and, as in earlier home games against Kettering and Scarborough, a well organised defence was able to frustrate them.

Worse was to come when Hatswell was caught flat-footed and allowed a ball to drift over his head while Quayle skipped through and smashed in a shot which beat Brown all ends up. City responded by forcing some corners. Wright belatedly threw on all three substitutes but all to no avail.

Although this result could be said to be an unfortunate hiccup, I feel it reflects a deeper malaise. Failing to score and finish teams off that we ought to beat is not the fault of the forwards but an over-cautious approach to attacking. Midfield tend to sit too deep and don’t support the forwards enough. Blackburn was at his most infuriating last night – excellent work-rate but abysmal passing.

Mark Wright often calls for a new forward to rectify this problem but the team as a whole need some more creativity and attacking play from midfield. True we missed Harkness but Carey and Brodie have the experience and ability to unlock stubborn defences and they weren’t even on the bench. Wright faced similar criticisms when he was manager at Oxford – a sound defence but at the expense of goalscoring. It would be a great shame if that pattern were to be repeated here and spoil what has been an incredibly solid start to the season.

Colin Mansley

Come On City Oh Dear Goal Inquest

One of those nights! Twenty Exiles fans watch the match in The Alexandra, Wimbledon.
Saturday 5 October 2002
Notts County Youth 6 Chester City Youth 0
Youth Alliance North Central Conference

Chester City:
Louie Macken, Tom Coulson (Matt Cooke), John Davies, Paul Connolley (Trialist), Danny Ventre, Adam Kelly, Mike Simpson, Lee Reece, Trialist, Gethin Lloyd, Trialist (Danny L Ventre).

The youth team went down 6-0 away at Notts County on Saturday despite having the better of the exchanges for the first half hour and having conceded a 10th minute goal. Two further goals followed in the remaining ten minutes of the first half time. Notts County notched a further three goals in the second half to make it a long journey home from Nottingham.

Saturday 5 October 2002
Margate 0 Chester City 1
Nationwide Conference
Attendance: 925 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Carden, Harkness.

Mitten, Edwards, Porter, Sodje, Lamb, Shearer, Keister, Saunders, Leberl, Braithwaite, Watts (Collins 79). Subs not used: Munday, Perry, McFlynn, Turner.
Chester City:
McCaldon, Lancaster, Bolland, Ruffer, Carden, Harkness (Blackburn 60), Kelly, McIntyre, Brady, Sugden (M.Brown 70), Twiss (Cameron 70). Subs not used: Carey, Davies.
K.Stroud (Dorset).

ProgrammeAnother win, another clean sheet, another three points. A late Dave Cameron winner made it a very good day at the office for Chester in a potentially difficult and hard away fixture. If City have any credentials to win the Conference, they must come and win at places such as Margate (well Dover!), so in hindsight, it was mission accomplished by Mark Wrights boys.

However in truth this was a terrible match entertaining wise. The first half was full of misplaced passes and a dour midfield struggle, and with two strong defences, chances were few and far between. In fact the only chance of note in the half fell to Ryan Sugden, who blasted over, after goalkeeper had fumbled a Carden shot. As the match dawdled along, the main difference this season is that, despite looking disjointed going forward, Chester build their success on a defence which does not concede. Indeed, even with Hatswell and Guyett missing through injury, Martyn Lancaster was able to fit into the defensive unit without any problems.

Much of the early moments of the second half brought little improvement in the quality of the match. Blackburn replaced Harkness on the hour and brought a fine save out of Mitten with a far post header. However the main turning point of the contest came on 70 minutes with the double substitution of Cameron and Mickey Brown, for the disappointing Twiss and Sugden.

Almost at once Brown shot over the bar from six yards, as there became more movement up front as the opposition tired. Just as we all thought that we were going to witness a rare 0-0 draw (!) involving Chester, up popped the unmarked Cameron to head home a superb Mickey Brown cross, to delight the away following, especially Sue C – see picture in the NLP!.

At last, a bit of quality to lighten up a drab match. Still cannot complain, as we would have taken unbeaten and in second place at the beginning of October, if offered at the start of the season.

Alan Parry-Jones

The Crabble Ian McCaldon Snack time Goal
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The squad building continues as Chester announce the signing of 25-year-old forward Dan Turner from Brackley Town.
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The season ends with a goalless draw as the Blues fail to score at home for a fifth successive match.
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The Exiles have set up a blog to provide away match information and articles for Blues fans living away from Chester. You can read it here
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