Friday, 7 December 2007

2001 and the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy (Bob Lord Trophy)

How many supporters can say they have seen the Blues win a cup? Not many I'm sure, just 495 hardy soles braved a dark Monday night in South London to witness this showcase Cup Final as Chester claimed their first piece of Silverware since beating Port Vale in the now defunct Debenhams Cup contest some twenty four years earlier. Trophies with Chester City's name on are extremely scarce. Throughout the clubs long history, they've collected the odd cup here an there, but nothing really worth shouting about.

In all honesty, this Cup Final tie was a dire game but City won and collecting their first piece of silverware in almost a quarter of a century was a fitting tribute to manager Graham Barrow, his player and City's superbly loyal band of followers. It's been an horrendous season at Deva Stadium, clubs across the land have dramas unfolding, but for Chester City, their football soap opera just roles on from one crisis to another better than any script writers could produce for a entire series of Coronation Street television episodes.

A game starved of entertainment value, slowly crept into extra time and then a penalty shoot out. Everybody just wanted to go home, whether it was a case of win, lose or draw, event the presentation party carried out the trophy, a table and advertising boards to the centre circle while a tense penalty shoot out was taking place.

The Bob Lord Trophy
The Bob Lord Trophy

Kingstonian looked as if they'd turned up just because they had to. They could only name three subs although maybe that's all you're allowed to use in the Ryman League. That's what K's fans have got to look forward to but the one consolation is that it's got to be better than this. City had a grip on the game early on with Fisher and Chris Blackburn taking control but they didn't manage one shot on target. Steve Whitehall, whose touch has eluded him since returning from a rib injury two months ago, shot selfishly on 18 minutes when he could have played in Mark Beesley.

Matt Doughty's feeble free kick two minutes later bounced aimlessly past a post before the home side created three chances before the break. Andy Porter had to hook the ball off the line on 34 minutes after Wayne Brown, who had to come to the cup final party in fancy dress as a banana, got caught out by Eddie Ackuamoah's overhead kick. But brown did get a hand to a Colin Luckett cross that was looping in at the back post and was in the right place to block Akuamoah's flick from Sammy Winston's 37th minute cross. Blues boss Graham Barrow threw on David Kerr and Darren Wright but still kept Fisher out on the wings as the second half developed into a game of kick and minus the rush.

Kingstonian's Beard did his best to bring the game to life by kicking the living you know what out of Whitehall and was quite rightly red carded by referee Les Jones. Ten minutes against Ten men. Surely City could raise their game. Alas, the only save they forced out of K's keeper Adrian Blake was from a slice clearance from his own defender, Mark Harris. Another deflection - this time from Derek Allen - from a Scott Ruscoe cross almost gave City the ideal start in extra time while Whitehall should have done better than volley across the face of goal on 93 minutes.

The only other chance before the penalty shoot out saw England Semi Professional goalkeeper Wayne Brown save well fom Mark Boyce. And it was fitting that Brown, should have the last word on City's season as his spot kick save from Billy Mead helped win the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy for Chester City.

Penalty Shoot Out

Andy Porter - right footer into the bottom right hand corner (1-0)
Colin Luckett - his blast hits the bar and goes over (1-0)
Steve Whitehall - left footer into the bottom right hand corner (2-0)
Eddie Ackuamoah - send Brown the wrong way (2-1)
Darren Wright - Straight down the middle (3-1)
Sammy Winston - two-step run into the roof of the net (3-2)
Neil Fisher - a bobbler into the bottom left hand corner (4-2)
Billy Mead - Wayne Brown brilliantly palms it out, going to his left (4-2)

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