Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Pre-Season Round Up

Written For:-
Chester vs Trafford 8th September 2010

Pre-season is a strange time in the footballing calendar. At this time of year every club is in a state of flux, having come through the experience of the previous season looking to build and improve on last year’s performance.

For us Chester fans pretty much anything would be better than last season. It has been great just seeing Chester back on the pitch! This season is likely to be completed without the worries of debt, court hearings and winding up orders that eventually consumed Chester City. Now we can concentrate on the most important thing about Chester FC, the football!

Our pre-season began however, with an announcement rather than a referee’s whistle. The extra fifteen minutes we had to wait to see the Blues back in action at Colwyn Bay was annoying, but it gave the Colwyn Bay supporter in front of me the chance to tell me it was the largest crowd she had ever seen at Llanelian Road. Something which can only bode well for the rest of the season! The match itself was not the thriller we had all been hoping for. Both teams playing were not quite match fit, with Colwyn Bay’s extra match sharpness, from having played already, seeing them win 2-0.

The next game at Heswall was a very pleasant experience. Everything from the charming clubhouse, where a tea and chocolate bar was only £1, to the tree bordered pitch and the 4-0 victory for Chester made for a great evening’s football. Chris Williams and Michael Wilde particularly impressed as Chester played some aggressive and attractive football. The club’s first goal may have been a tap in from Wilde after he had already hit the post, but it was an extremely welcome sight.

Then it was back down the Deva for our first home friendly against Aberystwyth Town. The Welsh Premier League side were decent, but Chester controlled the game recording a comfortable 3-0 win. Winger Ian Howard smashed home a Mark Peers cross to be the first scorer at the Deva under Chester FC’s new guise. But it was Mark Peer’s goal after half-time which was more memorable. It may have been opportunistic, Peers having intercepted the ball from a poor clearance from Aberystwyth’s goalkeeper, but the strike was spot on, lifting it just over the ‘keeper from forty-five yards to the delight of the whole stadium.

Next up was a sterner test in the form of a Tranmere XI that included several first team players. By all accounts Chester put on a real performance to run out 2-1 winners. It was a wonderful result with great atmosphere in the ground to go with it. At least, that was what I was told, having had to miss the game due to a family birthday. To say I was gutted at missing the “best game since Nottingham Forest” would be an understatement!

However, I was back at the Deva for the visit of a young Wigan side. Chester commanded the game and ran out comfortable 4-0 winners; however the highlight of the game was seeing Graham Barrow and Roberto Martinez back at the Deva. Full credit to them for arranging the friendly at short notice and I hope they do well in the Premiership this season.

The following game against Marine was a disappointing result for the team. Marine were solid but did not threaten the goal until a communication error in the defence meant Chris Oldfield punched the ball straight to a Marine player, who finished well into the top of the net. Perhaps the player’s heads were in the clouds after the Red Arrows flypast but this result certainly brought them back down to earth with a bump and a solid 2-0 win against Ashville followed. In those two games it was make or break for some players, and I am sure Neil Young was left with some tough decisions.

The next friendly against FC United of Manchester was certainly a game to remember. After going 3-0 down in the first thirty minutes through some very poor defending Chester looked out of the game. But boosted by the Harry McNally terrace, whose singing continued throughout the first half, Chester rallied and Wilde grabbed a goal before half-time, heading in from Peers’ cross. After the break Chester were a different side and deservedly equalised in the eightieth minute through Mark Connolly after he curled a corner into the net. Unfortunately Andy Burgess missed a great chance late on, but a 3-3 draw was a fair result as FC United had missed a few chances themselves earlier on. By the end of the game the ground was buzzing and I am sure the three camera crews that had attended the fixture were extremely impressed with the game.

The final friendly saw Nantwich Town travel to the Deva. They put out a young side with a few first team players who were promptly demolished 5-0 in a game which was not really the test Neil Young was hoping for.

This pre-season has been encouraging, with six wins from nine game, twenty three goals scored and five clean sheets to our name. The statistics certainly look good, and some of the performances have been some of the best of recent years. However, we have occasionally struggled against similar level opposition such as Marine and FC United. Yet the fight-back against FC United and the way we controlled the game against Aberystwyth show that if Neil Young gets things right, we have a real chance of a successful season this year. Quite a difference from the concerns that dogged us last year!

No comments:

Post a Comment