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29 September 1997

Manager Kevin Ratcliffe had some harsh words for his defenders following Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Rotherham. “The first goal came because Flicker gave the ball away. We didn’t block the cross, Spenner’s missed the header and Julian hasn’t been covering. The second is when we have cleared a corner and let the lad drill the ball back in. The third disgusted me. It started on the left and finished on the left – with some of the lads walking. The fourth is their only attack of the second half – and they’ve scored.”

Sounds like nothing’s been learned from the previous Saturday’s defeat at Field Mill at all. Ratcliffe has stated he is looking for new players but won’t be rushed into any signings. No news about Dave Higgins so I assume he’s decided to stay at Barrow. One things for sure, the defence, which was so solid last season will have to start working together as a unit right now, City can ill-afford to leak goals as they have in the last couple of weeks against two average (though better than us on the day) sides. Some of the defenders (if not all) will find themselves in the reserve side at home to Chesterfield on Wednesday night.

At least at Millmoor striker John Murphy impressed again – laying on both goals, and may find himself in the starting line up against seventh placed Hartlepool this Saturday. Meanwhile Ross Davidson is having treatment for a groin injury but is expected to be fit for the weekend.
25 September 1997

Striker’s Stuart Rimmer, Jonathan Jones, John Murphy and Rod Thomas all scored in City’s 4-3 reserve win last night at Doncaster to remind manager Kevin Ratcliffe that there’s plenty of striking power in the wings at City. Summer signing Rod Thomas will be hoping for a recall soon after being dropped from the side following City’s 3-0 defeat at his former club Carlisle on August 26. He came on for Neil Fisher at Mansfield, and may yet make the starting line-up on Saturday when the Blues travel to Rotherham. I wouldn’t be surprised either to see the return of Gary Shelton to bolster City’s midfield. With both Shaun Reid and Matt Woods out with long-term injuries, and more disappointing performances from Neil Fisher and Nick Richardson at Field Mill it must be time for a change.
24 September 1997

Stuart Rimmer, turns out for Chester reserves at Doncaster tonight for his first game since injuring a hamstring against Carlisle on August 12th. Assistant manager Gary Shelton will take charge at Belle Vue – and the midfield veteran is expected to play.

Meanwhile midfielder Shaun Reid has returned home from a week recuperating at the invitation of his brother Peter at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light. “It was brilliant,” said Reid, who is hoping to be playing again by Christmas. “The Stadium of Light is the best in England and I had the use of the gymnasium and all the other treatments to aid my recovery. I still get a lot of pain in the knee but I don’t mind that as long as I know it’s getting better. The doctors are amazed at how quickly I’ve recovered but they always err on the side of caution and have told me to slow down.” added the midfielder.

22 September 1997
City manager Kevin Ratcliffe (like the rest of us present) was stunned at Saturday’s Mansfield fiasco, coming as it did just days after a fine display at Ninian Park. He said: “I think some of the players think they are better than they are. We were near perfect at Cardiff, but I think in the past the signs have been there that when other teams were having a good day we’d get punished. To win four games on the run at this level is a big ordeal. There’s not many teams that do it and hopefully our lads have learned that you just can’t go out there and think it’s going to happen.”

He’s admitted he hasn’t got the money to go out and buy players after Saturday, but knows there are obvious areas that need strengthening. It’s City’s midfield that’s causing headaches at the moment. Nick Richardson, who’s been playing on a week-to-week contract until he prove his fitness is due to have contract talks this week, but has been very disappointing since recovering from injury last season. Despite an encouraging pre-season, Neil Fisher still, after Saturday’s display has a lot to prove. City now have the week to recover from their mauling at Mansfield before journeying to Rotherham for Saturday’s Division Three fixture.

19 September 1997
Chester travel to Mansfield tomorrow looking for their fourth win – and clean sheet – in a row. Field Mill is one of City’s more lucrative grounds, with wins there on their last three visits. John Murphy will partner Gary Bennett (who celebrates his 35th birthday tomorrow) up front as the Blues look to continue their push up the table. Rod McDonald has resumed training following his illness, though probably won’t be in contention for a place tomorrow.

Chester City (probable): Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Richardson, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, Murphy, Flitcroft, Fisher. Subs from: McDonald, Thomas, Jones, Shelton, Rimmer.
Mansfield Town (from): Bowling, Ford, Harper, Watkiss, Eustace, Hackett, Doolan, Schofield, Sedgemore, Clarke, Christie, Whitehall, Williams, Kerr, Milner.

18 September 1997
Matt Woods will be out of action for two months after it was diagnosed he has medial knee ligament damage. Fortunately there is no damage to his cartilage and he didn’t undergo any operation. His leg is now in a brace and that will be followed by three weeks in plaster. Woods’ injury will mean a recall at Mansfield for Nick Richardson who was dropped for the last two matches, Saturday may also see a return for veteran Gary Shelton. Meanwhile Rod McDonald has tonsillitis and has been told to stay away from The Deva, so we are likely to see John Murphy once again partnering Gary Bennett up front.
Congratulations to Chester City’s Youth team who beat Barnsley Youth 2-1 at the Deva in the first round of the FA Youth Cup with goals from Phil Patterson and Matty McKay. City will now be away to either Marine or Scunthorpe in round two.

17 September 1997
Matt Woods may be out of action for some time after being carried off in last night’s win at Cardiff. Woods lasted only 12 minutes before receiving a serious knee injury. He was dropped off at the Grosvenor Nuffield on the way back and was seeing a specialist today. Until the specialists report it’s a case of wait and see for the young defender.

Meanwhile manager Kevin Ratcliffe today singled out Chris Priest for special praise following victory at Ninian Park: “He was absolutely outstanding and I don’t know where he gets his energy from. If someone was watching him last night I’m sure they’d be interested.”

Defenders Julian Alsford and Ross Davidson got the City goals, despite most national papers and the television giving the second goal from the penalty spot to Gary Bennett.
City’s change kit will feature white shorts now and not black. Too many players have complained that the kit which has a black/green shirt looks too much like the referee’s. It was the club’s decision to change though not that of the officials. Added the manager: “We had problems at Scunthorpe in the reserves last week – and the ref had to wear a bib!”

16 September 1997
Chester take on Cardiff City tonight looking for their first away points of the season, and the Bluebirds, who haven’t lost in the league this season will be tough opposition.

Rod McDonald is doubtful after battling through saturday’s victory with a chest infection. If that doesn’t clear up, then John Murphy will probably make the starting line-up. Matt Woods is likely to retain the number four shirt ahead of Cardiff old-boy Nick Richardson.

Chester City (probable): Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Woods, Whelan, Alsford, Bennett, Priest, McDonald, Flitcroft, Fisher. Subs from: Murphy, Richardson, Thomas, Jones.
Cardiff City (probable): Hallworth, Jarman, Beech, Young, Harris, Fowler, O’Sullivan, Stoker, Greenacre, White, Partridge. Subs: Eckhardt, Roberts, Carss.

15 September 1997
Manager Kevin Ratcliffe has admitted that he has tried to bring Birmingham City midfielder Barry Horne on a three month loan to the Deva Stadium. “I rang Trevor Francis asking if I could take Barry on loan but he said no. I know Barry and I know he would do a good job for us. He’s the right kind of midfielder for us and as I’ve said before I’m always looking to improve and strengthen the squad.” Birmingham are believed to have had other enquiries for the 35-year-old hence their refusal to let him go on a loan deal. Horne was named the new PFA Chairman at the weekend, and would be seen as an ideal replacement for the injured Shaun Reid.

Meanwhile, City have offered Dave Higgins a deal to come to City on a non-contract basis until they’ve had a further look at him.

The Blues take on Cardiff City tomorrow night in a rearranged game at Ninian Park. Rod McDonald, with a chest infection is the only injury worry. If your going to the match tomorrow night why not send in a match report or your views on City’s performance.
13 September 1997
Striker Andy Milner has joined Vauxhall Conference side Hereford United on a month’s loan, making his debut in the 2-2 draw with Northwich Victoria on Saturday. If all goes well, he will sign a permanent deal at the end of that period. City are believed to be asking between £10,000 and £15,000 for his services. Milner has found it increasingly difficult to break into the starting line-up, following the summer signing of Gary Bennett and return of form (before injury) of Stuart Rimmer as well as Rod McDonald, and John Murphy who are all fighting for places in the forward line.
Chester will have an unchanged team when they face Shrewsbury Town at the Deva tomorrow. Matt Woods will continue in the middle of midfield alongside Chris Priest while Nick Richardson and Rod Thomas will have to settle for places on the bench.

City will be looking to continue their home form which has seen them gain seven out of nine points so far, while the Shrews have yet to get a point on their travels losing 1-0 at Lincoln City and 4-3 at Cambridge United. They kept their first clean sheet of the season in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Rochdale.

Ex-City favourite Roger Preece hopes to be at the game though he takes charge of a youth team match in the morning at Gay Meadow. He’s still suffering from a knee injury that he got pre-season but hopes to be back in the side when Chester visit Shropshire in January. If he does make it to the Deva tomorrow, he can be sure of a warm welcome back from the City fans.

Chester City (probable): Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Whelan, Alsford, Flitcroft, Priest, Woods, Fisher, Bennett, McDonald. Subs : Murphy, Thomas, Richardson.
Shrewsbury (probable): Edwards, Taylor, Dempsey, Herbert, Wilding, Brown, Evans, Scott, Currie, Steele, Jagielka. Subs from: Ward, Searbury, Berkley, Hanmer.

10 September 1997

Chester defender Iain Jenkins will start on the bench for Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifier in Zurich tonight against Albania.

Dave Higgins is expected to turn out for Chester reserves at Scunthorpe tonight. Tonight’s game will be Higgins’ third in four days. He played for Barrow on Sunday and again last night against Accrington. City manager Kevin Ratcliffe will also be making an appearance to keep a close eye on the defender.

5 September 1997

Chester take on Mark Hateley’s Hull City tonight looking for a win to boost confidence around the Deva Stadium. It’s not been the best start to the season for either side but Hull will no doubt be buoyed by their remarkable 7-4 victory over Swansea last week.
Iain Jenkins skippers the side before meeting up with the Northern Ireland squad for next week’s World Cup qualifier against Albania. “I’m alright to play because it’s five days before the game,” said Jenkins.

An injury to Glyn Hodges may force Mark Hateley to turn out for The Tigers.

Chester City (from): Sinclair, Davidson, Jenkins, Alsford, Whelan, Flitcroft, Woods, Priest, Richardson, Fisher, Thomas, Milner, Bennett, Murphy, McDonald.
Hull City (from): Thomson, Greaves, Wright, Dewhurst, Brien, Rioch, Mann, Joyce, Peacock, Darby, Hodges, Hateley, Doncel.

The Sovereign Way path to the Deva Stadium is closed until further notice (probable February). Royal Mail are carrying out work on a new sorting office and fans are advised to walk down Bumper’s Lane to the ground. A link road will eventually run from Sovereign Way to Bumpers Lane.

3 September 1997

Chester City have taken former Tranmere defender 36-year-old Dave Higgins on a month’s trial. He has been training with the Blues for a week. League rules state that as he’s on trial he can’t play in League games, so will be given a chance to impress for the City reserves. Rochdale are also believed to be keen on signing him.

Higgins has made over 400 league and cup appearances for the Prenton Park side and could be just the sort of experience City currently need in the heart of the defence. He is currently on non-contract terms at Barrow. Manager Kevin Ratcliffe has stressed that something needs to be done to stop silly mistakes that have seen four sloppy goals, including two penalties, conceded in a matter of days.

2 September 1997
Chester City will now play Hull City this coming Friday 5th September – kick off 7.30pm

1 September 1997
City manager Kevin Ratcliffe refuses to blame central defenders Spencer Whelan (left) and Julian Alsford for the 2-1 defeat at Barnet on Saturday. Both were at fault for the goals, Spenner giving away a penalty and Alsford slipping to let in Sean Devine for the winner a minute later.

According to the manager: “We did play well – in all departments but again stupid mistakes let us down. And if we keep making these mistakes, then as manager I’ll have to do something about it. We threw away three points in what was one of our easiest games of the season. We’ve gifted them two goals - although the first one was debatable.”

City travel to Glanford Park tomorrow night to take on a Scunthorpe side who have started the season well, and Ratcliffe may keep to the same 11 that started at Underhill on Saturday. Goals from Dave Flitcroft and Chris Priest gave City a 2-0 win on their last visit to Scunthorpe in February.
Saturday’s game, along with the rest of the League fixture list has been cancelled due to the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales.


















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