Nathan Arnold finish condemns Chester to defeat in their first home friendly
A fine Nathan Arnold finish 15 minutes from time condemned Chester to defeat in their first home friendly.
Neil Young said before the game that he fully expected a much sterner examination than the one provided by lower-league Heswall in Friday’s 3-0 victory at Gayton Park.
That’s exactly what his new-look team got.
Mansfield’s starting line-up may only have contained three first-team regulars from last season’s Conference Premier title-winning campaign.
But the Football League new boys still had too much for the Conference North champions.
That the Stags were the sharper side should come as no surprise given they are further into pre-season, their League Two programme getting under way on August 3.
But they also worked extremely hard off the ball and kept possession better, especially in a first half in which Amari Morgan-Smith went close with a volley and John Danby saved from Arnold after Paul Linwood gave the ball away.
The Blues – featuring seven summer recruits, one of whom – Gareth Seddon – hobbled off early on after a bright start – did show moments of promise.
Their touch, however, too often let them down and they failed to trouble Ian Deakin.
That attacking threat will come.
But what already appears to be forming is a solid defence.
Until Arnold’s 75th-minute winner, Mansfield had managed to open up the hosts only once when new left-back Paul Black fired over after being picked out by the excellent Lindon Meikle’s clever pass.
Arnold made no mistake, however, after Keiran Murtagh wriggled free down the right and drove the ball back across the box and into the trialist's path.
Chester: Danby (Fearon 80), Kay, Horan, Linwood (Spittle 71), McIntyre, Harrison (Heath 71), Jarrett (A Williams 63), Mahon (Brees 59), M Williams, Titchiner (Lindfield 59), Seddon (Mills 24).