Two late goals in quick succession meant that Chester
snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Hyde
but the disappointment would not be lasting for City’s
lowest crowd of the pre-season friendlies.
Both teams put in an energetic performance, there was
no lack of running endeavour the whole evening –
fitness levels beginning to peak after a long pre-season.
City had an experimental central defence with Powell at
centre-back alongside trialist Christian Smith. Neither
looked uncomfortable in the role and Smith looked assured
and steady under pressure.
At the other end Simm was a real livewire, chasing everything
and harrying to good effect. He might have done better
when Rainford set him up for a one on one with the ‘keeper
but his cross shot was easily read. Brownhill and Booth
had pot shots from outside of the box and Brownhill also
got a couple of decent crosses in as Chester took the
game to the visitors. Judge did not have a lot to do in
Chester’s goal but was bailed out by Brownhill who
headed Havern’s header off the line. The referee
had to hold up play two or three times in as many minutes
as tempers boiled over towards the end of the first half.
After the break Hyde made a number of changes I suspect
– though these went unannounced. City began to change
things around as the half wore on with new signing Woodward
swapped for Brownhill and Matty McNeil making a welcome
return from injury. Surprisingly the latter was made to
play at centre-back whilst Smith moved into midfield.
Smith went close with a header from Howard’s free
kick on the left. Earlier he had set up a chance which
Powell flicked towards the top corner.
City finally broke through when the impressive Brown spun
on the centre spot and released Simm on the right. He
powered forward and exchanged passes with Brown before
driving a low shot into the far corner. It was a fine
goal and no less than City and the industrious Simm deserved.
Ormrod might have increased the lead but blasted over
when well set up.
Smith conceded a free kick with a tackle from behind outside
the right corner of Chester’s penalty area. Crowther’s
free kick went through both wall and crowded penalty area
and past Judge into the net. It was reminiscent of a couple
of lax goals last season. Within a minute substitute Crowther
had scored again, his lofted shot looped over Judge. Baynes
was desperately unlucky not to equalise when his shot
from all of twenty-five yards almost uprooted the goal
frame as it crashed on to the underside of the bar and
was scrambled away.
The result was unimportant but the match was no doubt
a good work out and a last chance for Neil Young to tinker
with possibilities for his starting line-up on Saturday.
With a couple of suspensions and injuries to contend with
he will have learned a bit more about certain players’
abilities to adapt to new positions. Who will make the
first eleven on Saturday? It will be fascinating to see.
continued their pre-season build-up with a 2-2 draw against
the Welsh Premier League champions Bangor City. There
was a warm welcome for ex-Blue Kyle Wilson who joined
the Citizens in the summer.
visitors had the better of the opening exchanges. John
Danby did well to palm a Dave Morley effort out for
a corner. Chester rarely
threatened and it was nearly 30 minutes before their
first effort on goal when Iain Howard sent an overhead
kick just over the bar.
It came as no surprise when Bangor
opened the scoring in the 37th minute as Alan Bull met
a right wing cross from Peter Hoy and shot past John
Danby from close range, the Blues ‘keeper having
Robbie Booth and Ashley Williams both
saw efforts go narrowly wide as Chester looked to get
on level terms before the break. Blues manager Neil
Young made three changes at the interval, and the introduction
of Chris Simm, Jerome Wright and Alex Brown seemed to
be just the tonic as they stepped up a gear after the
Chris Jones missed a great chance to extend Bangor’s
lead before Wright leveled the score on 63 minutes.
Simm latched onto a through ball from Greg Stones and
although Lee Idzi did well to save Simm’s effort,
Wright was on hand to drill home the rebound.
Simm gave the Blues the lead seven minutes later with
a deserved goal as he raced through on another great
through ball, this time from Brown, to beat Idzi.
The lead was short lived as Bangor
found the net again just five minutes later. Once again
Bull was on the scoresheet heading home a loose ball at
the far post after Dandy did well to block a Sion Edwards
effort. Bull almost completed his hat-trick in the dying
minutes seeing his effort hit the post.
2 August Stalybridge
Celtic 3 Chester 1
Attendance: - Half Time 2-0
Budtz, Bembo-Leta, McWilliams, Meynell, Platt, Warburton,
Kay, Wilkinson, Jennings, Ellams, Hobson.
Chester: Brownhill, Horan (Ormrod 73), Taylor
(Stones 46), Marsh-Evans (Howard 46), Baynes (Booth 46),
Pilkington (Brown 46), Williams (Powell 58), Wright, Simm,
Gall (Reed 46). Sub not used: Judge. Referee: J.Simpson.
suffered their second defeat of the pre-season when they
were beaten in an entertaining encounter by their Conference
North opponents at Bower Fold. Celtic managed by former
Chester boss Jim Harvey fielded a number of ex-Blues in
Chester contained a couple of trialists in their squad,
forward Kevin Gall and midfielder Danny Pilkington.
The visitors started well, Chris Simm was twice presented
with goalscoring opportunities in the opening minutes
both saved by Jan Budtz in the home goal, with the Blues
failing to create anything from the resulting corner on
the second occasion.
Connor Jennings saw a chance hit the side netting before
Celtic were awarded a penalty after john Dandy was penalised
for bringing down Craig Hobson in the area. Jennings stepped
up to take the spot-kick by Danby made amends for his
error with a fine save to keep the scores level.
Danby was left exposed as the home side took the lead
midway through the half. Adam Kay released Jennings who,
beat the offside trap before racing through on goal and
coolly slotting the ball past the Chester keeper.
The home side doubled their lead with a superb strike
from former player Lloyd Ellams, he picked up the ball
following good work from another ex-Blue Rhys Meynell
before curling a shot from the edge of the box pasty Dandy’s
outstretched dive into the top corner.
Simm saw another effort saved by Budtz as Chester looked
for a way back into the match but it was the home side
who had the ball in the net only for Jennings’ effort
to be ruled out for offside.
Manager Neil Young made a host of substitutions at the
break and one of these, Robbie Booth (on for Wes Baynes),
forced another good save from Budtz. Chester were enjoying
the better of the play after the break but fell a further
goal behind on 77 minutes with Phil Marsh scoring at the
far post after Jennings had beaten the City defence to
a loose ball.
Chester finally pulled a goal back their play had deserved
five minutes from time with Mark Reed raced through on
goal following a fine Booth through ball to finally beat
Budtz with a well taken effort from the edge of the box.
31 July Heswall 0
Attendance: 300 (est) Half Time 0-0
goal four minutes from time by transfer-listed Mark Connolly
brought Chester a last-gasp win in a scrappy pre-season
encounter at Gayton Park.
Blues manager Neil Young was without George Horan, Michael
Wilde, Alex Brown and Matty McNeil through injury. He
introduced trialist Christian Smith to the starting X1,
Smith is a former Port Vale and Wrexham midfielder.
Smith almost made a dream start in the opening minutes
as a long-range effort from inside his own half! dropped
just over the bar with David Jones in the Heswall goal
beaten all ends up.
Michael Powell came on after just eight minutes following
a an injury to Ashley Williams who needed treatment following
a late Steve King tackle that angered the Chester following.
Chester controlled much of the opening period but rarely
threatened the home goal. Baynes saw a free-kick from
the edge of the box palmed away by Jones and Powell headed
wide following a fin run and cross from Robbie Booth.
HOward headed wide just after the half hour before and
there was trouble moments later when Smith was caught
by a late Adrian Moody tackle. Powell and Moody clashed
as a result and both were asked to leave the field by
The home side almost opened the scoring ten minutes before
the break as Matt Houghton’s long range effort crashed
against the crossbar.
Manager Young made more changes in the second period and
one of those substitutes Chris Simm forced a fine save
from Jones in the 56th minute after being set up by Bradley
The Blues created several chances, Rainford pulled a shot
wide when well placed and Joe Ormrod, introduced for Booth,
forced a save from Jones following a good cross from Rainford.
Chester were finally rewarded four minutes from time when
Iain Howard crossed from the left wing for Connolly to
smash the ball home from ten yards out.
Chester are comprehensively beaten by their Conference
opponents and see Michael Wilde and George Horan injured
in the process. Wilde has since been diagnosed with a
Manager Neil Young described this as the worst performance
in his time at the club; despite sharing the opening period
the visitors scored on the stroke of half-time and added
further goals after the break to compound a miserable
night for the Blues.
Wes Baynes saw a free-kick in the opening five minutes
headed out. Jerome Wright swung in the resulting free-kick
which Wilde headed wide. It was ten minutes before the
Sandgrounders threatened, on that occasion Matt Walwyn
saw a well taken effort flash just wide of John Danby’s
post. Minutes later Tony Gray saw another effort for the
visitors flash just wide.
16th minute tackle with Matty McGinn resulted in Wilde
falling awkwardly on his shoulder and the striker left
the pitch, to be replaced by Mark Reed, following a
spell of treatment. Danby
twice saved from Gray as the visitors began to wrestle
control of the game.
Captain George Horan left the field through injury to
be replaced by Liam Brownhill but it was Danby who was
seeing most of the action saving from Gray once again
and Steve Daly. At the other end Reed saw an effort
cleared off the line after he’d met a Greg Stones
Southport went ahead in the last minute of the first
half, the dangerous ex-AFC Fylde marksman Walwyn beating
Danby with a well taken volley from the edge of the
Wright had a decent chance to level
matters five minutes after the break breaking free of
the defence be he shot over from 20 yards with just
‘keeper Usai to beat.
Southport doubled their lead in the 56th minute when
a Matty McGinn free-kick was flicked onto the top corner
by Daly giving Danby no chance.
Four minutes later McCormack
wrapped things up firing home a well-taken effort from
20 yards after turing the Blues defensive line. The
only effort of note from the Blues was a Reed effort
that was blasted over eight minutes from time.
A stuttering first half in which Airbus seemed sharper
and quicker to the ball was followed by a more convincing
Chester performance after the break.
The Wingmakers did a good job in breaking up the flow
of play and City struggled to string passes together.
Ashley Williams, playing against his old club, was often
by-passed as Chester’s central defenders tended
to loft the ball out to either wing where City’s
attacking moves, by and large, foundered. One exception
came when Marsh-Evans headed into the box, Wilde nodded
down and Wright’s rasping drive was tipped over
the bar. The visitors’ best reply came when Edwards
drove narrowly wide from the edge of the area as City
struggled to clear.
Baynes replaced Williams after half time and Chester,
perhaps with a flea in their ear from the manager, seemed
to go up a gear. They broke the deadlock when Wilde nodded
down a cross from the right and Wright stole through to
flick the ball over the keeper with a deft left footed
New signing Rainford was introduced into the action, replacing
Chris Simm. It was City supporters’ first opportunity
to see him play and he impressed from the start with his
positional awareness, good control and imaginative passing.
One pass to Wilde down the right with the outside of his
boot was sublime.
City forced a number of corners and from Wright's inswinger
Horan nodded in at the far post. Airbus introduced three
subs straight after this and they barely had chance to
draw breath before Wilde had broken down the left and
pulled the ball back invitingly. Wright just failed to
connect but Rainford made no mistake as he lashed it home.
In the end a comfortable win for Chester against close
friends and neighbours from just over the border who competed
well and might have taken the lead by half time. Despite
its hasty arrangement to replace the fixture against Fleetwood
and the Blues Bar being occupied by a private function,
a healthy crowd of just over a thousand turned out. Their
anticipation of the new season will have been further
whetted by the second half display in particular.
Teenager Joe Ormrod had a debut to remember as he lashed
home a 25-yarder to bring Chester level with nine minutes
remaining, before fellow substitute Alex Brown scored
the winner to bring the first silverware of the season
as the Blues held on to beat FC United of Manchester in
the Supporters Direct Cup.
The Blues were managed for the day by Andrew Donaldson
a partner at club sponsor BiG Storage. He bid £1,600
at the club’s awards night auction at the end of
last season to take his place in the dugout. The money
raised went to the Chester’s youth development programme.
Before the kick-off there was a penalty
shoot-out between supporters of both sides – with
the result of the spot-kicks determining which club
would lift the cup should the game finish in a draw
after 90 minutes. Chester duly won!
Against a strong United side Chester opted to play Chris
Simm as a loan striker on a 4-5-1 formation. There were
appeals from the traveling fans after six minutes when
Chester ‘keeper Adam Judge picked up a George
Horan back pass. United shot-stopper James Spencer was
called into the action soon after when he turned a Wes
Baynes shot round the post. Minutes later Spencer denied
Baynes again as the Chester player capitalised on a
Simm sent a shot wide before the game
got niggly midway through the half when Horan was involved
in a scuffle with United's Mike Norton with other playing
having to separate the feuding duo. Good work by Iain
Howard set up Simm whose low shot was well saved by
Just after the half hour the visitors
took the lead as Lee Neville headed home a left wing
corner from Nicky Platt. Two saves by Judge ensured
that Chester only trailed by that single goal at the
Chester changed their formation after the interval with
Michael Wilde replacing Simm to partner Mark Reed up
front. Four other changes in personnel were also made
as Chester reverted to a more familiar 4-4-2.
There were ugly scenes in front
of the dugouts as a late tackle by Martin Parker on
Wilde saw the Blues striker retaliate with Kyle Jacobs
with both players being asked to leave the pitch.
Wilde’s exit brought Ormrod to the pitch and the
16-year-old leveled matters ten minutes later as he
shot into the top left hand corner with nine minutes
left on the clock.
The winning goal three minutes later came after good
work from Mark Connolly. He received the ball from John
Danby and surged forward before passing to Liam Brownhill
on the right and his cross was met by Brown who converted
from close range.
local derby of a friendly set off at a feisty pace as
both teams seemed keen to get some match experience
under their belts. Although there was never any question
of Premiership referee Mike Dean getting his yellow
or red cards out – there were no half measures
with several of the tackles that flew in.
The promising McNeil was an early casualty, an over
zealous tackle from the Tranmere No.6 put paid to his
debut after quarter of an hour. He had shown enough,
however to show that he might be a real handful and
forge an good partnership with Wilde. Others to catch
the eye in the first half were the solidly built Marsh-Evans
on his return to Chester who seemed to strike up a good
understanding with Jerome Wright down the left and Michael
Powell impressed in midfield with his tenacious winning
of the ball. Powell it was who had City’s best
chance as he sprung a one-two into the area and saw
his shot beaten away by the Rovers’ keeper.
Tranmere were physically strong and Chester had to work
hard to compete. Danby saved at full stretch to keep
the visitors from taking the lead. City did well to
hold them by half time.
After the break Tranmere changed the entire side. City’s
changes were more sparing – Baines and Brown came
on for Howard and Booth. Both looked to play with assurance.
Brown won the ball well and used it effectively. Baines
showed good control and set the game alight when he
let fly from outside the area and curved a shot into
the to corner after 55 minutes.
Andy Robinson went close with a long range shot. Later
he tested substitute keeper Judge who just managed to
tip his venomous free kick over the bar. City carved
out more openings after this – Wright and Barnes
went close with shots from the edge of the box. Simm
linked play up well and caused problems in the Tranmere
box. City’s substitutes flowed throughout the
second half and Chris Williams nearly capped a sweeping
move with a flying header at the far post.
At the back Horan and Taylor battled well and contained
Rovers forwards most of the time.
All in all it was a pretty encouraging performance.
Neil Young seems to have assembled a very competitive
squad and on this showing they hold much promise for
the coming season.