Date: 23rd August 2008 at 12:22pm
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As we prepare for the visit of Rotherham United in League Two today, we turn back the clock to February 1998 and a classic performance against Rotherham United at the Deva Stadium. This game saw the return of Spencer Whelan and he turned in an inspirational performance to keep danger man Jason White quiet. He was not the only thing that was quiet, however, as the first half consisted of hardly any action at all – Giles went close with a free kick, Woods also tried his luck with a free kick from 40 yards, whilst at the other end, Sinclair almost misjudged the flight of the ball from a shot. Unfortunately, that really was it, as the rest of the half consisted of mis-placed passes and cautious approach play which was not much of a spectacle.

However, the second half proved to be a real pan-of-milk affair, with non-stop action all the way. No sooner had things got under way, when Ross Davidson raced down the right and crossed for John Murphy to power home a classic diving header. Even better, two minutes later, and it was two nil. Once again, the ball came in from the right, a McDonald cross this time, and when Rod Thomas’ shot seemed to be going wide, up stepped Julian Alsford to hit it on the half volley from close in, only for visiting goalie, Bobby Mimms, to fumble it over the line. Despite protests, the linesman ruled that it had crossed the line.

This signalled Rotherham to abandon their cautious play in order to get some goals, leading to the match becoming much more open and exciting. If it wasn’t for some close offside decisions, things would have been a lot worse for Rotherham, particularly when after a classic move involving Thomas dancing past tackles, Murphy was adjudged to strayed offside. However, the game was finally won 20 minutes from the end. A Davidson run into the box was cut short by a foul from Alan Knill. After everyone wondered why it wasn’t a penalty, Chester lined up the ball, but Andy Roscoe decided on forming the wall a yard away instead of ten. The referee decided to book him for this and as it was his second offence, off he went, with plenty of petulance shown. You do wonder about footballers sometimes – after having been booked already, you think he would have had enough sense not to give the ref any opportunity to send him off. From the resultant free kick, Thomas squared the ball to Priest on the edge of the box, and his glorious mis-kick was good enough to go in via the post – probably just as well it was a free kick, as a penalty would have probably been missed!

That saw the end of Rotherham’s chances to salvage a point, but not the end of the action. Soon after, when Mimms ran out of his area and lost control of the ball, he saved the follow up, and thus was given an automatic red card. Once again, after plenty of complaining, he left the pitch, Chester, after initially not taking advantage, finally tried to over-run the nine men. McDonald sent in a curler which was just wide, Bennett, having just come on, had a chance but hit it straight at the sub goalie, when leaving it to McDonald may have been the better option. With only a few minutes left, Murphy was sent free down the right, and as he cut inside, he sent the ball across to a completely unmarked priest who sidefooted home. Chances still fell to Chester, with Bennett hitting the side netting and a hat trick seeking Priest only being denied by a good save.

So, this was an important result that put Chester City back into the promotion hunt (both automatic and play-offs). However, as well all know, promotion wasn’t to be that term.

Team: Sinclair, Davidson (Fisher), Giles, Woods, Whelan, Alsford, Thomas, Priest, Rimmer (Bennett), Murphy, McDonald Subs not used: Shelton

corers: Blues – Murphy 47, Alsford 50, Priest 71, 87

ttendance: 2,432

an of the Match: Spencer Whelan