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PRE SEASON 1998/99
July 11 Caernarfon Town
Beckett 17, 50, 56, Richardson 12, 64 - pen, A.Shelton 79, Bennett 58.
July 14 Connah's Quay Nomads
Bennett 61, 88.
July 17 Tranmere Rovers
Beckett 32, 58.
July 18 Wrexham
J.Jones, Lancaster.
July 20 Cwmbran Town
Murphy 3, 6, Cross 11, Beckett 45.
July 22 Bath City
Bennett 2, 47.
July 25 Everton
Beckett 67.
July 28 Everton Youth
July 28 Blackburn Rovers X1
July 29 Port Vale
July 30 Runcorn
Aug 1 Total Network Solutions
Murphy 10, Bennett 16, Beckett 41.
Aug 4 Leek Town
A.Shelton 90.
4 Aug 1998
Leek Town 1
Chester City 1
Attendance 300

Chester City:  Cutler, Moss, Lloyd, Carson, Lancaster (Blackburn 34), Thompson, A.Shelton, Clench (Kilgannon 45), Jones, Patterson, A.Smith (Doughty 71). Sub, Conkie,

Disappointment for the three hundred or so spectators as Chester sent their second string team to Harrison Park. Everyone had assumed City would be sending the first team and Leek would surely have charged less than £5 had they known that the opposition would be so depleted. The tannoy played a Moody Blues number "Isn't life strange?" before the kick off. Were they trying to tell us something?

Nevertheless the lads in stripes gave a very good account of themselves. At least there was an opportunity to see City new boy Alex Smith back from injury. He played on the left of midfield and his influence grew as the game progressed. Thompson and Lancaster made a solid pairing at the centre of defence until the latter was given a terrific whack by Dean Trott's elbow and had to be led from the field with blood pouring from his nose. Blackburn came on to replace him.

City's best chance in the first half came after an impressive show of speed by Shelton on the right whose cross set up Jones. His close range shot was blocked by keeper Ingham. Cutler, returning to his former club also made a solid save from Leek's best scoring opportunity early in the game.

Ray Newlands played in goal for Leek in the second half and Neil Ellis once again met his former team. Danny Carson was having a very steady influence in midfield as City more than held their own. Wes Kilgannon came on for the second half and showed some good footwork on the right wing.

The match seemed to have nil-nil written all over it but the home side were presented with the lead when Steve Price converted from the penalty spot after a decision of mysterious proportions. No one on the ground seemed to know why the decision had been given. In reply Patterson hit the foot of the Leek post. But then, with virtually the last kick of the game, Shelton took the opportunity to shoot from outside the box and lashed in a wonderful goal with Ray Newlands rooted to the spot. It was nothing more than the youngsters deserved.
Colin Mansley
1 Aug 1998
Total Network Solutions 2 Chester City 3

Attendance 200

Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Cross, Richardson, Crosby, Woods, Flitcroft, Priest, Murphy (Bennett 11), Beckett, Wright. Subs not used: Cutler, Thompson, A.Shelton, Jones.Minibus driver and general gofer: DC Evans.

© Giles Park


A surreal but highly pleasant opportunity to watch Chester at Llansantffraid-ym-Mechan or Total Network Solutions as we are supposed to call them now.Llansantffraid is a tiny place (Two pubs and one tandoori takeaway) in superb countryside but the football club is ambitious and will soon have decent facilities around two sides of the village playing field.

Chester took to the field in quaint rural surroundings but with signs of a building project behind one goal and a new community centre to get changed in. The work is undoubtedly financed by the quarter of a million pounds worth of sponsorship Llansantffraid received for changing their name.

Was it true that kick off time was brought forward to 2.30pm so that the local farmers would be back home for milking time?

City began briskly from the kick off and spent most of the first half in the home team's half. Nick Richardson went past three players on the right and clipped over an inviting cross for John Murphy (left) to head home. Unfortunately Big John suffered a bit of concussion in the process and was taken off for Bennett. Luke Beckett's pull back then set up Benno to lash the ball into the back of the net for City's second. Richardson sent in a thunderous drive just past the angle of crossbar and post which then slammed into a Vauxhall Vectra in the car park, just missing the wing mirror and avoiding any damage. We wondered whether City had been honing their shooting skills by using an Aston Martin for target practice. Bennett berated Beckett for not going down in the penalty box when challenged by a TNS defender. But Beckett did keep up his scoring record with a goal just before half time.

Second half Chester came out totally unfocussed as Hoddle would say and TNS soon pulled a goal back. Worse was to follow when Brown brought down the overlapping full back and conceded a penalty. Steve O'Shaunessy netted with ease. Despite a sloppy second half performance City held on for a face saving win.Richardson was comfortably man of the match.

All mingled afterwards in the club house which resembled a homely village hall. The walls were decked with memorabilia and the club boasted a pool table and table football machine. All of which would be welcome additions to the facilities at the Deva. A superb afternoon's entertainment. Perhaps small is beautiful after all.
Colin Mansley

30 July 1998
Runcorn 2 Chester City 0

Attendance 300

Chester City: Cutler, A Shelton, Lloyd, Reid (Blackburn 59), Thompson, Lancaster, Kilgannon, G. Shelton (Carson 13), Patterson, Jones, Doughty.

Shaun Reid limped off with an ankle injury to put a dampner on this performance. But after the match Reid insisted that his knee was not the problem. "The knee's fine," he said. "I twisted my ankle on Saturday and just took another knock tonight." City fielded four professionals and dominated much of the 90 minutes. Irving and Jones scored for the home side with a goal in each half. 24-hours before, many of the players appeared in the 3-1 defeat at the hands of a Port Vale X1.

25 July 1998
Chester City 1 Everton 1

Attendance 5,324

Chester City: Brown, Davidson, Crosby, Cross, Wright, Flitcroft, Woods, Priest (G.Shelton 67), Bennett (A.Shelton 79), Wright, Murphy, Beckett (J.Jones 70), Sub not used, Cutler.
Everton: Myhre, Thomas (O’Kane 79), Cleland, Tiler, Short, Farrelly, Barmby (Milligan 82), Hutchinson (McCann 74), Oster (Jevons 74), Spencer (Branch 74), Ferguson, Sub not used, Allen.
Referee: Michael Jones (Chester).

This was a well earned draw for City who fought back well in the second half and, but for the woodwork, might even have sneaked a shock winner in a game played with a competitive edge.

The game, which was threatened with a players strike until a couple of hours before kick-off, went ahead after the chairman had apparently paid players outstanding wages at a motorway service station in the morning. The said chairman wasn’t present for the match which saw a second ‘vote of no confidence’ in the him as hundreds of supporters held aloft red cards (supplied by the newly formed ISA) to show their disapproval at the way the club is being run.

City once again fielded on-loan Jonathan Cross at left back, and there was a surprise return from injury for midfielder Chris Priest. Everton fielder a strong line-up for their first match under manager Walter Smith.

The opening stages were played around the City box with Everton squandering a number of good chances, Duncan Ferguson and John Spencer the culprits. Credit to Wayne Brown in the City goal though. He made a number of crucial blocks and pulled of a superb double save at the feet of Ferguson after 10 minutes.

City’s first effort came through Chris Priest who fired in a shot after a good knock down by John Murphy. Ferguson was again foiled by Brown before it was Luke Beckett’s turn to get in on the act, shooting on goal after battling through the Everton defence.

City’s best chance came on the stroke of half-time. Darren Wright crossed for Murphy to head down in the six yard box. The ball fell to David Flitcroft who side-footed the ball over the bar totally unmarked from close range.

The City defence was finally beaten in the 53rd minute. Spencer scoring from eight yards out after build up work from Oster and Farrelly.

Five minutes later City almost equalised when Beckett picked up a through ball from Flitcroft. He beat Myhre to the ball but his toe-poked shot trickled agonisingly wide of the far post. However, on 67 minutes Beckett got the goal his efforts deserved. Once again it was a knock down from John Murphy in the box, Beckett turned on a sixpence and fired home from six yards out.

A bit of Chester history took place as substitutes Gary and Andy Shelton became the first father/son combination to play for the first team. With 15 minutes remaining City almost grabbed the winner as matt Woods hit the crossbar following a well worked free kick.

An all-round encouraging display then from City who were without regulars Nick Richardson, Spencer Whelan, Alex Smith and Rod Thomas; and in Luke Beckett we have someone who looks a genuine 20-goal a season striker.
22 July 1998
Bath City 1 Chester City 2

Attendance 362

Chester City: Cutler, Davidson, Woods, Richardson (Beckett 53), Crosby, Thompson, Bennett, Flitcroft, J.Jones (Murphy 64), Thomas (A.Shelton 45), Wright. Subs not used: Ratcliffe, Brown, D.C. Evans!
Referee: Steve Tanner (Keynsham).

© Giles Park

A convoy of 'Saunders Honda' cars and a minibus (packed out with kit bags, several players and golf clubs – and driven by DC Evans) brought the playes to Twerton Park for the second match on City's mini-tour.

A goal in the opening minutes of each half by Gary Bennett (left) gave Chester their second win in as many days. Playing on a tremendous surface, City were quickest to start and forced a corner in the opening minute. Flitcroft swung in the cross which was headed back across goal for Bennett to have the easiest of chances to head home from one yard. Dave Flitcroft (playing in mauve boots!) fired a 20-yarder just wide of the post. The nearest the home side came to scoring was from a couple of right wing crosses, both dealt with by an impressive Scott Thompson. Tommo certainly looked the part in the centre of a defence marshalled by Andy Crosby.

Andy Shelton replaced Rod Thomas at half-time and a couple of minutes after the break The Blues (Green's!) were two-up through a second from Gary Bennett. He raced on to a fine trhough ball from red-booted Darren Wright to slot the ball home through the goalkeepers legs from just inside the left hand edge of the box. Bath immediately pulled a goal back and had a spell of pressure without really threatening the City defence. Dave Flitcroft went close with a long range effort that hit the bar. A couple of substitutions were made as the game started to get a little niggly towards the end.

After the game a few of us met up with the Bath City chairman Steve Hall for a drink and a chat in the supporters bar. He explained how last season after a shareholders vote to sell the ground was defeated the club was taken over by a group of fans. Many hours of dedicated hard work by supporters have turned the club round and an agressive commercial/marketing campaign has raised the awarness of the club within the City of Bath to new levels. Leafleting every single home in Bath was a smart brochure and fixture list has just taken place. Already the weekly losses have been reduced by two-thirds and a relaunch week in March massively increased the club's profile in the city. It really does go to show what a thriving commercial awareness along with enthusiastic (unpaid) supporters can do for a club, and in a city identical to Chester in many ways.

20 July 1998
Cwmbran Town 0 Chester City 4

Attendance 200

Chester City: Brown, Richardson, Woods, Davidson, Crosby, Flitcroft, Thomas (Wright 45), A.Shelton, Murphy, Beckett, Cross (Ratcliffe 76), Subs not used; Cutler, Bennett.

Sounds like a right farce this one. Chester turned up late for the match at Chepstow Town's ground and the game had to finish 10 minutes early as it was getting dark and there were no floodlights!

Three goals in the opening 11 minutes settled the game with Jogn Murphy scoring a brace before on-trial Jonathan Cross added a third. Luke beckett continued his scoring sequence with the fourth on the stroke of half time.

Rod Thomas played the first 45 minutes without appearing to aggrivate his recent injury. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe made a rare appearance in the second half replacing Jonathan Cross.PC Evans was present having a kick around with Neil Cutler at half-time!

"I was pleased by certain players' adaptability tonight. We adjusted to a difficult surface very professionally and Davidson showed how versatile he is at the back. Shaun Reid, Alex Smith, Crris Priest and Gary Bennett didn't figure tonight, so I don't want people jumping to conclusions about what our strongest line-up is just yet" said Kevin Ratcliffe
18 July 1998
Wrexham 0 Chester City 2

A goal from Jonathan Jones, which will no doubt boost his confidence, and another from Martyn Lancaster gave a City team comprising youth team players and first-year professionals victory.
17 July 1998
Chester City 2 Tranmere Rovers 4

Attendance 1624

Chester City: (4-4-2) Brown; Davidson (A. Shelton 81), Crosby, Whelan, Cross, Flitcroft, Richardson, Woods, Wright, Beckett, Bennett (Murphy 67). Subs not used: Cutler, Thompson, J Jones.
Tranmere Rovers: Coyne, Frail, Dupont, McGreal, Challinor (Hill 63), Irons, Morrissey, Santos (G Jones 81), Kelly, O'Brien, L Jones (Parkinson 63), Sub not used: Morgan

Tonight's game was played in the face of a setting sun which shone in Wayne Brown's eyes for the first half. The visitor's superiority in pace and skill showed for much of the game but City had some encouraging performances too.

Rovers took the lead when Kelly was first onto a speculative ball chipped back into the area after a corner was half cleared. Brown was caught in no-man's land. Beckett equalised for City as half time approached finshing with aplomb as he took the ball round the keeper and scored from a narrow angle.

Sadly some fighting followed in the main stand and a dozen unwelcome Tranmere fans were shown the door, while a City fan was arrested.

Tranmere regained the lead shortly before half time when Chester failed to clear a corner. Brown saved a shot with his legs but the ball looped up towards the crossbar and Challinor was first to react and nod it over the line.

Beckett equalised once again from a Flitcroft corner. His unmarked header found the far corner. A few minutes later Wright was caught in possession in midfield and Kelly slotted in his second from the resulting counter attack. Santos, one of two Frenchmen on trial with Tranmere then capped an impressive performance by volleying a goal from the edge of the box.

Some encouraging performances were given by Beckett, Wright (In red boots) and Cross. Crosby's distribution from the back is very good. Otherwise Ratcliffe will have learned nothing new, I suspect. Brown – whose hair has gone blond a la Rumanian – gave a shaky display.
Colin Mansley
14 July 1998
Connah's Quay Nomads 2 Chester City 2

Attendance 750

Chester City: Cutler, Whelan, Smith (Thompson 85), Richardson (A.Shelton 72), Crosby, P.Jones, Bennett, Woods (Wright 76), J.Jones, Thomas.

City made several changes to the side that comprehensively thrashed Caernarfon for the first-ever fixture at the new Deeside Stadium. The Blues struggled to find any rhythm in the first half and were restricted to long ranger efforts from Alex Smith and Gary Bennett. The closest the home side came to a goal was from a clever free kick from Jonathan Cross early on. Neil Davies gave Nomads the lead just before half time with a clever chip over Neil Cutler in the City goal. City had a great chance to level on the stroke of half time but Jon Jones wasted a good shooting chance.

Rod Thomas was City's most dangerous forward and he made several god runs but failed to create a real goalscoring chance. Collister saved well in the Nomads goal from a Whelan chance and a last ditch tackle prevented Gary Bennett bearing down on goal. Ten minutes into the second half an City were 2-0 down as Chris Davies scored from close range as the City defence made a hash of a cross.

Gary Bennett pulled a goal back for the Blues on 61 minutes following good work again by Thomas. Flitcroft and Jones both went close as City searched for the equaliser and it came with just two minutes left through Gary Bennett. He scored with a diving header from a Dave Flitcroft cross to save City's blushes.
11 July 1998
Caernarfon Town 1 Chester City 7

Chester City: Brown (Cutler 45), Davidson, Smith, Richardson, Crosby, Whelan (Thompson 60), Flitcroft (A.Shelton 60), Woods, Murphy (Bennett 45), Beckett (Jones 60), Wright.

City's first match of the pre-season resulted in a comfortable 7-1 victory at Yr Oval. Chester fielded four debutants in Alex Smith, captain Andy Crosby, Luke Beckett and Paul Jones. It was a cross from Smith which led to City's opener on 12 minutes with Nick Richardson side footing home. Beckett had a goal disallowed before extending City's lead after neat work from Richardson.

Five minutes after the break Beckett scored his second after a long-range Richardson shot was fumbled, and more good work by Smith resulted in Beckett heading his hat-trick six minutes later.Within a couple of minutes Gary Bennett scored his first goal since November to make it five. On 64 minutes Richardson scored his second, converting a penalty after Bennett was brought down in the box.

The home side pulled a goal back through Highdall on 75 minutes, before Andy Shelton headed home City's seventh after neat work from Smith and Ross Davidson
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