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Wednesday 29 September 2004
Sheffield Wednesday 1 Chester City 2
LDV Vans Trophy Round 1
Attendance: 7,640 Half Time 1-0
Booked: None.

Sheffield Wednesday:
Lucas, Bullen, Aljofree, Collins, Smith, McGovern, McMahon (Greenwood 75), Marsden, Brunt (Needham 82), Proudlock, MacLean. Subs not used: Tidman, Shaw, Carr.
Chester City:
MacKenzie, Vaughan, McIntyre, Hope, Bolland, Rapley (Whalley 57), Ellison, Harris, Carden (Davies 45), Stamp, Booth (Drummond 72). Subs not used: Brown, Edmondson.
Referee: D.Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

In five year’s time you’ll find there were 3,000 Chester fans who claimed to have attended this memorable match. But the 300 lucky souls who really did make the trip to Hillsborough were admirably rewarded for their efforts.

The dedicated City fans certainly made their presence felt – making more noise than the famous Sheffield Wednesday band and the 7,000 or so Owls fans. Chester responded to their support with a second half performance that demonstrated a new-found determination and resulted in two goals being scored inside three minutes.

This was one of those rare nights that made you feel great to be a Chester fan – a real reward for enduring away trips to Gravesend, Dover, Margate, Tamworth, Burton and the like.

Mind you, from Chesters first half display I’d never have thought a victory against Sheffield Wednesday was possible. The Blues’ starting line-up was also not the best, with Chris MacKenzie coming in for Wayne Brown, Richard Hope and Rob Booth making their full debuts, Stephen Vaughan in the back four and no sign of Danny Collins, Michael Branch, Cortez Belle or Daryl Clare.

Sheffield Wednesday edged the first 20 minutes of the game, with a couple of dangerous free kicks – one effort shading past the post in front of the Blues supporters in the Leppings Lane seats.

The Blues earned a free kick at the other end and Kevin Ellison looked set to take it – perhaps with thoughts of Saturday’s free kick at Lincoln on his mind. But Andy Harris took it and his shot went over the bar.

Wednesday came into the game more and more, with number 7 Jon-Paul McGovern continually left on his own by a stranded Vaughan. It seemed inevitable a goal would originate from his side.

Cue the 29th minute, and the ball came across to an unmarked McGovern. He touched it across the box to another unmarked Owl – Steve MacLean. He had no trouble slotting the ball past MacKenzie.

The Sheffield Mac Lads (McGovern and MacLean) continued to impress in the first period. McGovern shot just over the bar and MacLean failed to connect in front of a near open net. Chester were lucky to go into the half-time dressing room just a goal behind.

Ben Davies replaced Paul Carden at the start of the second half and immediately added a touch of flair to the proceedings. He created a chance for Darryn Stamp almost straight after the re-start, but his goalbound effort took a deflection.

The ineffectual and tiring Kevin Rapley was replaced after just 11 minutes of the second half by young Shaun Whalley. He made his presence felt throughout the second period, although he didn’t have any real signs of scoring.

The Blues’ golden opportunity came when Davies took a corner on the 66th minute. Hope rose powerfully in the box and headed the ball home in front of the cheering Chester supporters.

But the game wasn’t over by a long way and Chester stepped up a gear, just as Wednesday seemed to run out of ideas. The City fans had barely finished celebrating when Saturday’s goal hero, Ellison, weaved around two Wednesday players and thwacked an immaculate drive into the bottom corner.

The already buoyant Blues’ fans went delirious and Ellison almost repeated his over-zealous weekend celebrations. But who could have blamed him? City were 2-1 up at Hillsborough and coasting.

There followed a very nervous last 20 minutes or so, including four long minutes of stoppage time. Wednesday looked almost certain to score soon after Ellison’s goal, but MacKenzie made an excellent stop.

The Owls continued to pile on the pressure, but Chester kept hitting the ball away. Stuart Drummond came on for Booth on the 72nd minute and Chester fans continued to bite their nails.

Davies could have had a chance to seal the tie during stoppage time when he was almost clean through on goal. But he went for the safe time-wasting option and headed towards the corner flag as Wednesday desperately tried to shift the action upfield.

But the Owls ran out of time and as more and more of their fans streamed out of the exit gates, the referee finally blew his whistle to cue more rapturous celebrations from everyone from the other side of the Pennines.

This time last year we earned a point with a 0-0 draw at home to Telford United. Just 12 months have passed and we’re capable of coming from to behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. How thing’s have turned around in a year – I’m still pinching myself!

Sue Choularton

Saturday 25 September 2004
Lincoln City 1 Chester City 1
League Two
Attendance: 3,985 Half Time 1-1
Booked: Ellison, Hessey.

Lincoln City:
Rayner, McAuley, Morgan, Futcher, Bloomer (Carruthers 74), Butcher, Gain, Peat, Taylor-Fletcher, McCombe (Richardson 80), Green (Yeo 58). Subs not used: Sandwith, Toner.
Chester City:
Brown, Edmondson, Bolland, Collins, Hessey, Drummond, Davies, Carden, Ellison, Rapley (Vaughan 81), Stamp (Hope 65). Subs not used: MacKenzie, Harris, Booth.
Referee: M Fletcher (Worcestershire).

It seems to be a high probability that watching this level of football, the officials unfortunately take centre stage. Here was another classic example, but with a difference, as it seemed to go in Chester’s favour for a change. Indeed we know all the decisions even themselves out through the season and referees are part of the game etc, but when you pay up to £15 week in week out for this level of football, the players must be allowed to consistently make the headlines (good or bad), and not the men in black

The major incident coincided with Chester’s equaliser in the 36th minute. After a quiet opening, Lincoln had gone ahead in the 27th minute with a 20 yard speculative effort from Green, which eluded Brown and crept in the corner of the net. However a dubious indirect free kick was awarded to Chester, following a Gain back pass handled by keeper Raynor, and the resultant kick was blasted into the net by Ellision.

The Lincoln players seem to be convinced that the ball had entered the goal directly, but the referee disagreed and awarded the goal. Ellision, being a former Lincoln favourite over celebrated his goal in front of the irate Lincoln fans and was booked, quite rightly, for his pains. Chester were now well on top until half time and Drummond missed a sitter, following good work by Rapley and Ellision.

The second half began with Ben Futcher having a goal disallowed for offside and Brown had to make a couple of great saves, as the defence stood firm to hang on for a point. However, it was not all one way traffic, as Ellisions fine run nearly brought the elusive winner, while Darren Stamp, still short of match fitness, was inches away from a Hessey cross. The last ten minutes were a little nervy, as Rush tactically “shut up shop”, and Chester finished the match with just Centre Back Richard Hope up front and no recognised strikers on the pitch, following the withdrawals of Stamp and Rapley.

But of course, the referee, had the final word, sending off Lincoln forward Richardson in the final minute for an alleged punch on the outstanding Danny Collins. Nobody else, apart from the officials saw the incident and nobody complained!. It was a complete mystery.

A good point for Chester in difficult circumstances. Lincoln are a big strong side who play direct football to their strengths. As the season progresses, they will be difficult to beat. Chester look a lot better organised under the Rush regime and their hard work is paying off. Things should significantly improve once Clare and Branch return and a confident strike force is reformed.

Alan Parry-Jones.

Saturday 18 September 2004
Chester City 0 Cambridge United 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,771 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Hessey, Davies, Rapley, Carden.

Chester City: Brown, Edmondson, Bolland, Collins, Hessey, Drummond (Vaughan 84), Carden, Davies (Harris 72), Ellison, Rapley, Stamp (Whalley 80). Subs not used: MacKenzie, Hope.
Cambridge United:
Ruddy, Tann, Gleeson, Angu, Kholti, Nicholls (Duncan 35), Mbome, Walker, Easter, Oli (Turner 79), Chillingworth (Beech 74). Subs not used: Jowsey, Quinton.
Referee: L.Mason (Lancashire).

City and Cambridge United fought out a goalless draw at a windy Deva Stadium. With eight of the previous eleven home matches with the U’s drawn perhaps the results wasn’t too unpredictable.

Michael Branch (hamstring) and Kevin McIntyre (eye infection) were still not fit to take to the pitch though Darryn Stamp returned for his first home start of the season, while Cortez Belle sat out the first game of a three match ban. There was also a place in the bench for 17-year-old Shaun Whalley. Whalley has played for the Youth and Reserve teams this season and signed professional terms with the club late last week.

The opening few minutes of the game were littered with fouls, Ashley Nicholls shooting over the bar for the visitors on ten minutes producing the first goal effort of the game. Wayne Brown was called into action just after the quarter hour to save at the feet of Oli as the U’s forward broke following an Mbone through ball for a clear goalscoring chance. Ben Davies cleared a dangerous inswinging corner and Blues had another let-off minutes later when Daniel Chillingworth’s long-range effort his the post.

It was almost mid-way through the first half before City had their first attempt on goal, Kevin Rapley shooting over. Sean Hessey then became the first of four City players to find themselves in the referee’s for dissent.

There were loud appeals for a penalty as Ellison’s header appeared to hit a defenders arm in the box but referee Mason was having none of it. City began to exert some pressure and had two opportunities to take a half-time lead. Stamp header over when well placed before Rapley, again, had a great opportunity to open the scoring but couldn’t convert Stamp’s flick-on from just eight yards out.

Oli tried his luck from long range but Brown saved comfortably just before the break.

City started the second-half with a series of corner that were dealt with comfortably and a free-kick from Davies that Ruddy in the visitors goal also dealt with. Stewart Drummond and Kevin Ellison, who had more time that he probably thought, both saw shots sail over the bar.

Stamp saw a difficult chance on the turn on 70 minutes go over the bar. Ian Rush made a couple of changes bringing on Andy Harris for Davies and gave Whalley a debut, replacing Stamp.

It was the visitors who missed the best opportunity in the closing minutes. Brown did well to block a Duncan header and the ball fell to Oli who somehow contrived to hit the post with the goal at his mercy just yards away.

City forced two late corners but Paul Carden and Ellison’s flag-kicks were cleared to safety.

Manager Lan Rush told the local press after the game: “It was a point gained, particularly with all the injuries. I’m happy that we kept a clean sheet. The main thing was that we didn’t get beaten and that was down to our organisation. Wayne Brown made fantastic save and we had a little bit of luck towards the end.”
Saturday 18 September 2004
Chester City Youth 3 Mansfield Town Youth 2
Youth Alliance North Central Conference
Half Time 2-1

Chester City: Ryan Brookfield, Peter Owens, Ian Latham, Danny Ventre, Darren Jones, James Scales, Paul Rutherford, James Salkeld, Gavin Lynch (Wayne Morgan (David McCoy)), Mike Walsh (Kenny Rollinson), Adam Wade.

The first home game for Chester City Youth ended in a 3-2 victory for the hosts, with goals from Ian Latham (2), and Gavin Lynch (1).

This was the proverbial game of two halves, with Chester City coming out firing on all cylinders for the first 35 minutes, scoring through Gavin Lynch on 10 minutes, (a 25 yards left foot curler into the top left corner), and Ian Latham’s 30 yard free kick, during that time Chester City were also guilty of missing a hatful of chances against a young Mansfield Town team.

At the 35-minute mark, a catalogue of mistakes allowed Mansfield to score their first goal. The momentum then changed and where Chester City had looked composed and strong, Mansfield began to make steady inroads into the Chester City half and had two or three good chances to equalize before they were awarded a penalty in the 65th minute following a reckless challenge from Chester City captain Danny Ventre. The penalty was scored and Mansfield always looked the more likely to get a winner, however, in the 88th minute substitute Kenny Rollinson picked up a defensive clearance and managed to feed the ball to Ian Latham wide on the left, and Latham drove forward purposefully before firing the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, and provide the winner for Chester City Youth.

Overall, it wasn’t a good performance from Chester City Youth, who lost Robbie Booth and Shaun Whalley to first team duty, and Gavin Lynch to injury in the first 10 minutes, and they will need to improve considerably before taking on Wrexham F.C Youth next week.

On a final note, Shaun Whalley and Robbie Booths elevation to the first team squad is a great credit to both players, and Whalley’s debut in front of a home crowd provided a great moment for all players and staff involved with the youth department, let’s hope these two are not the last to progress.

Jim Hackett
Saturday 11 September 2004
Scunthorpe United 1 Chester City 2
League Two
Attendance: 4,203 Half Time 0-2
Booked: Carden, Drummond, Edmondson. Sent-off: Belle.

Scunthorpe United: Musselwhite, Stanton, Crosby, Butler, Ridley, Taylor, Kell, Baraclough, Sparrow (Brighton 45), Hayes, Keogh (Featherstone 78). Subs not used: Evans, Jackson, Byrne.
Chester City:
Brown, Edmondson, Bolland, Collins, Hessey, Carden (Harris 70), Drummond, Ellison, Davies, Rapley (Stamp 90), Belle. Subs not used: MacKenzie, Navarro, Hope.
Referee: C.Webster (Tyne & Wear).

City recorded their second win in seven days as they upset the odds by winning at top of the league Scunthorpe United who had been unbeaten so far this season.

Manager Ian Rush was forced to make two changes late in the week as Kevin McIntyre, with an eye infection, and Michael Branch, with a hamstring strain were forced to miss the game. Sean Hessey and Kevin Rapley deputised.

With a swirling wind at their backs City had the better of the opening exchanges. Ben Davies shot from 25 yards only to see his drilled effort go wide. Kevin Ellison saw a dangerous inswinging corner cleared before the same player tried his luck again with a free-kick that was tipped over the bar by home ‘keeper Musselwhite. Danny Collins headed over from a Davies corner and Collins again saw a headed pushed wide following a long-throw by Cortez Belle.

Good work again by Belle resulted in the opening goal on 24 minutes as his right wing cross was met by Kevin Ellison who converted with ease in front of the home fans.

It was all one-way traffic in the first half as Scunthorpe rarely mounted an attack, anything they did was comfortably dealt with by Danny Collins and Phil Bolland, both looking solid at the back.

Bolland proved his worth at the other end too as he gave City a two-goal on the half-hour as he met Belle’s long throw to head past Musselwhite to delight of the noisy band of traveling fans.

City were dominating play and should have scored a third as Belle, clean through on the right, shot across and wide when well placed. paul carded also volleyed over as City finished the opening period on top.

The Blues had three more chances soon after the break to extend their lead. Belle, through on the right, saw his shot saved and the same played again miskicked on the left when well placed. Davies almost got on the scoresheet as his rasping drive from 20 yards sailed over Museelwhite and rebounded off the bar to safety.

Carden found himself in the referee’s notebook and was shortly replaced by Harris as the home side picked up some momentum.

On 77 minutes The Iron pulled a goal back as Butler bravely dived in to force home after Brown had saved Taylor’s shot. Minutes later things went from bad to worse as Belle was sent off. He and former City player Andy Crosby both chased a ball down the left, Crosby appeared to foul the striker who reacted by raising an arm. There didn’t appear to be any contact with Crosby who fell to the ground but referee Webster thought differently and brandished a straight red card to the striker.

Scunthorpe pressed in an effort to make their one man advantage count. Brown made a great save from Paul Hayes and both Collins and Hessey headed dangerous corners away. It was backs to the wall stuff for the final minutes. Rush brought on Darryn Stamp for Rapley midway through the five minutes of added-on time and there were hearts in mouths as Richard Kell shot over at the far post when well placed. That was to be the last chance for the home side, City held firm and the referee’s whistle signaled three more points.

Minute's Silence Non-stop drumming
Belle incident Cortez sees red.
Non-stop drumming Non-stop drumming

Saturday 4 September 2004
Chester City 1 Macclesfield Town 0
League Two
Attendance: 2,913 Half Time 0-0
Booked: Collins.

Chester City: Brown, Edmondson (Harris 77), Bolland, Collins, McIntyre, Davies, Drummond, Carden, Ellison, Belle, Branch. Subs not used: MacKenzie, Hessey, Hope, Rapley.
Macclesfield Town:
Wilson, Bailey, Briscoe, Barras (Brightwell 68), Welch, Potter, Whitaker, Harsley (Sheron 62), Widdrington, Tipton, Parkin. Subs not used: Miles, Fayadh, Deasy.
Referee: B.Curson (Leicestershire).

What an improvement! An injury time goal from Danny Collins gives City a deserved victory, their first clean sheet and their first three points of the season.

The Blues’ new management team of Ian Rush and assistant Mark Aizlewood took charge of the players on Tuesday and changed the training routine to two sessions a day and the improvement was there for all to see. Both men stood in their ‘technical area’ for the entire 93 minutes, coaching and encouraging the side from start to finish. I haven’t seen a more animated manager since Harry!

Rush made changes on the pitch as well. Out went youngster Stephen Vaughan to be replaced by Darren Edmondson. There was also a place in the starting line-up for Paul Carden, with captain’s armband, replacing Alan Navarro. Forgotten man Richard Hope was also named on the bench for the first time this season as City reverted to a back four system.

The game, played in sweltering conditions, got off to a quick start with City pushing forward for a quick breakthrough. It nearly came as well, with Cortez Belle being denied following a pinpoint cross from fellow striker Michael Branch. Branch was causing problems down the left flank and twice he turned his marker inside out to deliver teasing crosses into the box but agonisingly no-one could add the finishing touch.

City didn’t have it all their own way though. A mistake by Kevin McIntyre allowed dangerman Parkin a run through on goal. He twisted in and out of the City rearguard before hitting a low shot that beat Wayne Brown to hit the outside of the post.

Kevin Ellison had a chance to open the scoring following a set piece on the City left, however his shot from eight yards out cannoned away from the crossbar. At the other end Brown had to make a smart save to fingertip Tipton’s piledriver over the bar as the half drew to a close.

In the closing minute both Branch and Drummond had efforts on goal before City left to a rapturous ovation from their fans who appreciated the efforts put in by the players who’d done everything but score in the opening period.

Following the break however it was the visitors who began to exert some authority. City could hardly get out of their own half and slipped back into the long-ball game that had caused them so many problems in the opening matches.

Stewart Whitaker forced a save from Brown before Branch missed an great opportunity shooting wide with only Wilson to beat. The striker, with head in hands, knew he should have broken the deadlock. Rush was forced to make a change on 77 minutes with Edmondson, who appeared to be nursing an injured right ankle, replaced by Andy Harris.

City weathered the post half-time Macc pressure and began to push forward more as the second half went on. Belle may be a little raw in talent but he gave 110% all afternoon winning many flick-ons and being a general nuisance for the Macc defence, he used his long throw-in to good effect on several occasions too.

With time running out Brown had to make a superb save. Carden gave away a free-kick outside the penalty area and Matthew Potter’s shot was parried away by Brown who managed to get an outstretched right hand to push the ball to safety.

Ellison had two more chances in the closing ten minutes. First he intercepted a poor back pass by Ian Brightwell though his shot from long range took a deflection wide for a corner. Minutes later Ellison again had a shot but this time his effort, right on target, was smartly blocked by Wilson.

With three minutes on added-on time indicated by the fourth official City began to mount a late attempt on goal. A Belle throw in caused panic in the penalty area and a corner was conceded. Man-of-the-match Davies’ inswinging effort was met by Danny Collins but his header was tipped over by Wilson. The resultant corner, taken on the opposite wing by Ellison was met again by Collins who headed for goal. The ball was blocked on the line but the linesman indicated the ball had crossed and a goal was awarded. Collins rushed to the City fans behind the goal to celebrate, and was promptly booked for his efforts whist Rush and Aizlewood danced a jig of delight on half-way.

There was hardly time to kick-off before referee Curson brought the game to an end and City could celebrate. Rush took to the pitch to shake the hands of each of his players who’d given the fans a performance they could have been proud of.

Papparazzi Macc hit the post
City corner Aizlewood, Rush and Mathias
Rush and McIntyre ISA MoM Ben Davies

Saturday 11 September 2004
Chesterfield Youth 0 Chester City Youth 1
Youth Alliance North Central Conference
Half Time 0-0

Chester City: Ryan Brookfield, Peter Owens, Adam Wade, Darren Jones, Danny Ventre, Paul Rutherford, Robby Booth, James Salkeld (James Scales), Gavin Lynch, Shaun Whalley, Mike Walsh (Wayne Morgan).

Having waited three weeks to resume their programme, Chester City Youth made the long journey to Chesterfield hoping to kick start their season with a win, which they duly managed thanks to a Shaun Whalley strike 10 minutes from the end.

Although the final score was 1-0, the result didn’t reflect the true story of a match where City could have scored a hatful, and were it not for poor finishing would have sewn the game up before half time.

Despite City missing the majority of chances, it was Chesterfield who started the game stronger, forcing City onto the back foot for the first 15 minutes without creating any notable chances. After the first 15 minutes City began to make regular forays into the Chesterfield half, mainly through some excellent play from Robbie Booth down the right side and Gavin Lynch who continuously got in behind the Chesterfield defence. Unfortunately, despite creating two or three clear-cut chances, City arrived at the break without any reward for their good build-up play.

The second half saw City continue to make good goal-scoring chances, most of which fell to Booth, Walsh and Lynch, who failed to hit the target each time after working themselves into good positions. The second period also saw Shaun Whalley begin to trouble the Chesterfield defence with his pace and unpredictability. It was Whalley’s pace that allowed him to get beyond the defence and he was only stopped by the Chesterfield goalkeeper who handled the ball outside the area. From the resulting free kick the Chesterfield keeper pulled off a great save from James Salkeld.

In the 80th minute it was Whalley, who chased down a Chesterfield defender attempting to clear the ball, and managed to get hold of the ball before moving across the area and planting it into the Chesterfield net to give City a lead that they never looked like conceding.

Overall, it was a good performance from the youngsters, although the slow start is something that will need addressing. Good first half performances from Booth and Lynch were supplemented by good second half performances from Whalley, Danny Ventre and Darren Jones, and with no major injuries it made the long journey home a lot happier.

Jim Hackett.
Wednesday 1 September 2004
Stockport County Reserves 2 Chester City Reserves 2
Pontin’s Holiday League Division One West
Attendance: 129 Half Time 1-1
Booked: none.

Stockport County: Coppinger; Brownhill, Meadowcroft, Hardiker, Jackman; Morrison (Campbell), Goodwin (Allen), Pemberton, C Williams, Byrne, Daly (Le Fondre).
Chester City:
MacKenzie, Edmondson, Wade, Ventre (Walsh), Hope, Harris (Salkeld), Rutherford, Carden, Rapley (Lynch), McCoy, Booth.

A last minute goal from County’s substitute Adam LeFondre denied the reserve side their first victory of the season. Ian Rush fielded six first teamers as he took the opportunity to continue to look at his squad

Danny Jackman opened the scoring for County in the fourth minute but the lead was cancelled out on the half hour as Andy Harris struck the equaliser direct from a free-kick.

Kevin Rapley gave City the lead from the penalty spot on the hour mark and City looked be be heading for their first Pontins League victory until Lefondre’s last-gasp equaliser.















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