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Colwyn Bay (A) | Heswall (A) | Aberystwyth Town (H) | Tranmere Rovers (X1) (H) | Wigan Athletic (H) | Marine (H) | Ashville (A) | FC United of Manchester (H) | Nantwich Town (H)
Saturday 14 August 2010
Chester 5 Nantwich Town 0
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,004 Half Time 2-0

Chester: Whiteside (Oldfield 55), Stones (Jones 61), Graves (Williams 51), Horan (Aspin 61), Meadowcroft, Burgess, Peers (Rigoglioso 57), Connolly (Sheehan 57), Hopley, Wilde (Macauley 51), Howard (Sharrock 45).
Nantwich Town: Astbury, Kirkham-Stubbs (McKay 74), Foster, Barrett, Edge (Herd 70), Jack, Street (Stockhall 68), Parkes, Griggs (Smith 76), Aspinwall (Lane 70), Southern (Madley 59).
Referee: Paul Graham.

Chester completed their pre-season programme with a five goal rout of Nantwich Town. But for some fine saves by Jason Astbury in the visitors goal the score could well have be doubled as Chester created numerous chances throughout this encounter.

As in previous matches Chester started slowly and it was the Dabbers who had the first chance as early as the second minute as Nathan Southern forced a good save from Richard Whiteside after a poor clearance from the defence. Soon after Daniel Meadowcroft was well placed to clear off the line following a mix-up in the home defence almost gifted the opening goal.

Chester soon settled though against a side containing only a handful of first-teamers and took the lead on 20 minutes as Michael Wilde converted a pass from Anthony Burgess to score his eighth goal for Chester. On the stroke of half-time Rob Hopley headed Chester into a two-goal lead after Mark Connolly’s corner had bounced back off the crossbar.

The goal of the game came five minutes after the break as Mark Peers sent an unstoppable 25-yarder past Astbury after working space for himself outside the box.

Hopley added his second goal of the match, and his fifth in pre-season, just before the hour mark pouncing on a rebound after Astbury failed to hod a Greg Stones. Trialist Josh Macauley completed the scoring seven minutes from time. The former Tranmere player, who is considering an offer from the club, latched onto a through ball from Burgess to coolly beat the ‘keeper in a one-on-one.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Wednesday 11 August 2010
Chester 3 FC United of Manchester 3
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,762 (329 FCUM) Half Time 1-3

Chester: Whiteside, Aspin (Sheehan 64), Williams (Hopley 46), Horan (Meadowcroft 8), Stones, Graves, Peers (Sharrock 68), Connolly, Burgess, Wilde (Macauley 72), Howard. Sub not used: Oldfield.

A friendly between two fan-owned clubs certainly pleased those who turned up to this match. The game began disastrously for City though, as United took an early lead. Jerome Wright, who could easily pass for Ryan Giggs on the left, kept the ball in play and crossed for Norton to poke the ball home after a deflected header.

Soon after this Chester’s captain George Horan was withdrawn and replaced by Danny Meadowcroft. He soon found himself under pressure as he miscontrolled a hasty pass from the struggling Aspin, allowing Norton to chip a shot at goal. The ball rebounded off the bar but City failed to take the second opportunity to clear it and Deegan was gifted a chance to slot the ball past Whiteside. City were two-nil down as a result of abject defending. Alan Hansen would have burst a blood vessel had he been observing.

Although City clawed their way back into the game they were undone yet again when Deegan won possession on the edge of the box and, despite seeming to knock it too far forward still managed to reach it before any defender and knock in a third goal. The excellent Wilde headed home Peers’ free kick from the left to give City a glimmer of hope before the break.

Attacking the Harry Mac end in the second half City showed more purpose. Howard switched to the right and as Cleggy made a distracting announcement about the attendance, cut in with panache to unleash a venomous shot on goal. Hibbert couldn’t hold it and – quick as a flash – Wilde lashed the ball into the roof of the net. The momentum was now with City though United were quick on the break and forced a succession of corners.

From a City corner, the ball was cleared to Sheehan whose first touch as substitute was to strike a dipping volley just under the bar – Hibbert parried it away. Connolly’s throw-in’s were proving an effective attacking option but he also took a pot-shot with a free kick on the left following a foul on Macauley. He targeted the top corner which Hibbert did well to tip behind for a corner. Connolly took the corner himself and this time Hibbert could only help it into the net and City were level. Andy Burgess’ influence grew throughout the game and he went mightily close to capping a complete comeback when his shot from the edge of the box clipped a post.

There can have been few complaints about the entertainment value of tonight’s match before another excellent attendance, boosted by several hundred from Manchester.

Colin Mansley

Picture © Evening Leader

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Monday 9 August 2010
Ashville 0 Chester 2
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: - Half Time 0-2

Chester: Oldfield (Whiteside 54), Sheehan (Aspin 54), Graves, Meadowcroft, Stones, Armstrong (Sheehan 81), Peers, Rigoglioso (Ryan 54), Hopley, Connolly, Burgess (Howard 54).

Goals from Rob Hopley and Mark Connolly gave Chester a win at their West Cheshire League opponents Ashville. They would have won by a bigger margin but saw a penalty from trialist Ollie Ryan saved ten minutes after the restart.

The visitors took the lead on 16 minutes as Mark Peers fed a through ball to Anthony Sheehan who sent a cross over that was met by the head of Hopley. Seven minutes before the break Chester doubled their lead as Connolly raced clear onto a Sheehan pass to lob the advancing ‘keeper Aidan Dickinson.

Ten minutes after the break substitute Ryan was fouled in the box by Dickinson but the Ashville ‘keeper saved Ryan’s spot kick and further efforts from Connolly and Greg Stones as Chester looked to increase their lead.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Saturday 7 August 2010
Chester 0 Marine 1
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,296 Half Time 0-0

Chester: Whiteside, Connolly, Graves, Ruffer, Meadowcroft, Armstrong, Peers, Foulkes, Ryan, Rigoglioso, Bailey.

It was a case not so much of a game of two halves but of two different half games. Neil Young chose to change all eleven positions in the team at half time. The first eleven had Marine on the back foot as the game settled down.

Ryan had the best of the chances firing straight at the keeper direct from Connolly’s throw-in and in to the side netting after bursting through. Peers also caught the eye with his touch and had a good shot saved by the keeper after a neat one-two.

After the break openings came less frequently as Marine stifled Chester in midfield. City were only galvanised into action after Gallacher had given the visitors the lead. ‘Keeper Oldfield decided to come out to punch a far post cross from Marine’s free kick but was inadvertently impeded by Stuart Jones and his weak effort only reached the edge of the penalty area. Gallacher clipped a neat shot in off the bar.

Chester pushed for an equaliser and almost claimed it three times in the last few minutes. First Stones belted a drive against the bar, then Hopley’s header was scrambled off the line and Wilde’s snap shot cannoned back of the inside of the post.

So the result was a slight anti-climax to what was otherwise a very good afternoon. It was great to see many old familiar faces coming back to support the new club – almost like a re-union of past years; there was real ale on in the supporters’ bar and a memorable fly past by the red arrows – and a real feel-good factor about the Deva again which today’s result couldn’t suppress.

Colin Mansley | Picture © Evening Leader

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Sunday 1 August 2010
Chester 4 Wigan Athletic (X1) 0
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,638 Half Time 1-0

Chester: Oldfield, Aspin (Jones 68), Horan, Ruffer (Meadowcroft 60), Williams, Peers (Howard 56), Stones, Graves (Connolly 46), Rigoglioso (Bailey 66), Ryan (Hopley 60), Wilde (Yofee 68).
Wigan Athletic: Nicholls (Welsby 32), Gervin, Buxton, Langley, Goldbart (Wills 46), Mustoe, Holt, Morris, Redmond, Lambert (Lewis 43), McManaman. Subs not used: Astless, Myler, Lynch, Chow.

Chester scored four goals against a youthful Wigan XI in another encouraging performance on a day that also saw the return to Deva Stadium of Graham Barrow and Roberto Martinez.

The first goal was scored from a 30th minute corner by striker Michael Wilde – making it his fifth goal in five games. Chester couldn’t increase their lead before half-time, but it was a 45 minutes that would have pleased most of the 1,638 crowd.

And it wasn’t long before they were cheering again, as it was 2-0 to Chester just seven minutes into the second half. The came from triallist Ollie Ryan, who shot into the bottom corner.

It was then the turn of Rob Hopley, who made it 3-0 on the 68th minute with a good header. The Chester joy was complete with a fourth goal – this time from defender George Horan following a cross by Iain Howard.

The Wigan side bought to Chester by ex-heroes Martinez and Barrow, who now make up the management team at the Premier League side, were mainly youngsters. But their team did feature four first-year professionals and it was still another impressive effort by Neil Young’s side.

Sue Choularton

Picture © Evening Leader

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Tuesday 27 July 2010
Chester 2 Tranmere Rovers (X1) 1
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,927 (553 Tranmere) Half Time 0-1

Chester: Oldfield (Whiteside 54), Stones (Peers 50), Williams, Horan (Jones 67), Meadowcroft (Ruffer 50), Aspin, Armstrong (Ryan 50), Burgess (Connolly 10), Hopley, Wilde, Graves (Rigoglioso 68).

Tranmere Rovers: Collister, Hollyoak, Benson (Healing 55), A.Bakayogo (Stockton 63), Z.Bakayogo, Gibbs, Power, Fraughan, Mackreth, Showunmi (Vaulks 45), Manga (Connor 21).
Referee: John Dowd (Wirral).

Two second half goals from Michael Wilde ensured a third successive win for this ever improving Chester side. Visitors Tranmere fielded a mixed team of mainly trialists and youth players though there was a debut for striker Enoch Shownmi, recently sigend from Falkirk.

Andy Burgess tested the visiting ’keeper early on but the midfielder soon limped off with a hamstring strain that will keep him sidelined for ten days. Captain george Horan headed just wide following a corner as Chester pressed for the opening goal.

It was to be Tranmere though who broke the deadlock six minutes before the break. Ryan Fraughan sent a through ball to Steve Connor on the left wing and his cross was headed home by Max Power.

Manager Neil Young made several changes just after the break and the Blues were soon on level terms as Wilde headed home from Mark Connolly´┐Żs corner. Three minutes later Wilde was on the scoresheet again heading home powerfully after good interplay between Mark Peers and Michael Aspin led to the youngster’s cross.

Wilde almost grabbed a hat-trick but shot wide and trialist Mark Peers also went close following good approach play.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Saturday 24 July 2010
Chester 3 Aberystwyth Town 0
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,132 Half Time 1-0

Chester: Whiteside (Oldfield 53), Aspin (Rowntree 78), Graves, Horan, Stones, Rigoglioso (Williams 53), Peers (Armstrong 61), Connolly (Jones 70), Wilde (Taylor 87), Burgess (Hopley 53), Howard.

Referee: Paddy Mohan (Warrington).

It took Chester just 16 minutes to register their first Deva goal as over 1,100 supporters turned out to see this long-awaited homecoming.

Iain Howard’s name will go down in the recond books as the first player to get on the scoresheet as he turned home a cross from trialist Mark Peers at the far post.

Chester had already created a comple of chances with Mark Connolly missing from close range in the opening minutes.

The home side continued to have the better of the possession throughout the opening period but were unable to beat Stephen Cann in the Aberystwyth goal again.

Manager Neil Young made several changes in the second period before. Chester doubled their lead on 53 minutes as Peers scored a spectacular second lobbing substitute ‘keeper Dave Roberts from over 40 yards following a poor clearance.

The woodwork came to the visitor’s rescue on two occasions before Stuart Jones wrapped things up three minutes from the break heading home powerfully Howard’s corner kick.

Picture © Evening Leader

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Thursday 22 July 2010
Heswall 0 Chester 4
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 350 (estimate) Half Time 0-3

Chester: Oldfield (Whiteside), Stones, Williams, Horan (Jones), Ruffer (Rowntree), Armstrong (Peers), Aspin (Taylor), Rigoglioso (Burgess), Hopley (Connolly), Wilde (Hopley), Graves (Howard).

Michale Wilde scored the first goal for the new Chester club after 22 minutes when he headed a Stuart Graves cross against the post and then showed great composure to smash in the rebound. Four minutes later Wilde struck the woodwork for a second time and this time the impressive Greg Stones was on hand to score comfortably. Five minutes before the break Rob Hopley added a third when his shot from a Rigoglioso cross seemed to get a deflection off a Heswall defender. It was an entertaining first half display with young full back Chris Williams particularly taking the eye with some enterprising bursts down the wing.

There were a number of changes at half time but Chester continued to surge forward and put the Heswall defence under pressure. Greg Stones had a long range effort disallowed before Wilde scored his second goal of the match on 56 minutes after a cross from the skilful Iain Howard. Andy Burgess showed glimpses of real quality in the 45 minutes he played and Chester could easily have added to their four goal total. There was little opportunity to assess the defence which had a generally uneventful evening with goalkeeping triallist Chris Oldfield from Liverpool having very little to do in his 45 minutes on the field.

All in all it was a very promising work out that will have increased the anticipation for the new season. Neil Young is certainly going to have his hands full selecting a starting eleven from the players that have featured so far.

Richard Whiteside, Stuart Jones, Mark Peers, Andy Burgess, Mark Connolly and Iain Howard were all half time subs. The goalkeeper, in the first half was Chris Oldfield a triallist from Liverpool

Chas Sumner

Picture © Evening Leader

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Saturday 10 July 2010
Colwyn Bay 2 Chester 0
Pre-season friendly
Attendance: 1,692 (1,500 Chester estimated) Half Time 0-0

Colwyn Bay: Leach; Denson, Beattie, Brandreth, Grannon, Challinor, Fields, McGraa, McGill, Newby, Allen. Subs: O’Sullivan, Williams, Jones, Davy.
Whiteside, Foulkes (Jones), Graves (Bailey), Meadowcroft, Horan, Mahoney (Sheehan), Stones, Connolly, Wilde, Rigoglioso (Rowntree), Howard (Hopley).
Referee: Mark Petch.

The scoreline was almost incidental as Chester made their historic return back to football since being reformed with the opening of their 2010/11 pre-season campaign at Colwyn Bay.

The result was a 2-0 victory to the home side, but the real achievement came in attracting around 1,500 Chester fans to Llanelian Road to see their team kick a ball for the first time in more than five months.

Unfortunately the beaming faces turned to frowns in the second half when a minority of Chester fans were involved in a skirmish near the Colwyn Bay clubhouse resulting in an army of North Wales police officers descending on the ground.

The match had started 10 minutes late due to the sheer volume of Chester fans queueing to get through the three turnstiles. I’ve a feeling this is something we are going to have to get used to this season.

With no names on this season's smart new shirts, it was hard for everyone to work out who all the players were. But the number six – Danny Mahoney – stood out for me in the first half as someone who knows how to win the ball and distribute it. Adriano Rigoglioso is also clearly going to be a physical menace to Evo-Stick defenders.

The closest Chester came to scoring was on the 15th minute when Michael Wilde hit the post from a Mark Connolly free kick. The rest of the first half was a fairly promising performance from a team that barely knew each other's names, let alone style of play.

Colwyn Bay, the club previously managed by Chester manager Neil Young, stepped up a gear in the second half and scored with a header after a cross from the left-wing on the hour mark.

Just a few minutes later they doubled their lead with a shot from the same area, which Chester goalkeeper Richard Whiteside would have been hard-pressed to save.

Not long after that, the attention turned to the crowd when the trouble broke out and a handful of spectators went onto the edge of the pitch to get away. The game was briefly stopped and there were many Chester fans with their hearts in their mouths as they watched what was going on.

The game did quickly re-start, but there seemed to be less spirit among the fans as they reflected on how their grand day out had been marred, and the game petered away until full-time.

Leaving the ground was a long process as North Wales police, who arrived in something like 11 cars and seven vans, aided by two helicopters, let the fans out one-by-one as they looked for their suspects.

The next friendly is another visit to North Wales when Chester take on Rhyl. We must hope there will be no repeat of the trouble which tarnished the new club’s first match – oh, and a goal would be great as well!

Sue Choularton

Picture © Evening Leader

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