Andy Halls is confident that good things lie ahead for Chester FC this season but admits that it could take time to see the best of the Blues as they continue to gel.
Chester played their fifth friendly in eight days at Altrincham on Tuesday night, going down 3-2 in lacklustre fashion to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side, having earned a 3-1 win at Bala Town just 24 hours earlier.
The pre-season friendles have been coming thick and fast for Jon McCarthy’s men as they get set for when their National League campaign kicks off at Solihull Moors on Saturday, August 5.
It has been a summer of change at the Swansway Chester Stadium after McCarthy showed six members of last season’s squad the door while eight new arrivals have been brought into the club.
Right-back Halls joined Kingsley James and John McCombe in signing from Macclesfield Town while Ross Hannah, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Paul Turnbull, Harry White and Nyal Bell have also arrived.
And with such wholesale personnel changes, Halls thinks it will take time for things to click but believes the quality of the additions will soon tell.
“Obviously because I’m at a new club I wanted to hit the ground running in terms of performances and try and get that bedded in feel,” said Halls, who has been one of the most impressive of the new signings in pre-season.
“It’s going to take some time to gel as a team with the new players that we’ve signed but because of the quality of players that have come in it’s not the hardest of tasks to perform. I think the team will start gelling and (against Bala) we showed a lot more team cohesion compared to last week and that will only get better as the team plays together.”
Halls, who skippered Macclesfield last season as the Silkmen reached the FA Trophy final, praised the intensity of the pre-season schedule that has been implemented, with Chester having played seven games in 12 days when they entertain League One side Walsall this Saturday (3pm).
Three games a week have been in lieu of training in a bid to get their match sharpness right, with the Blues returning to the training ground next week for a full week in preparation for their final friendly at home to Port Vale a week on Saturday.
“To play into these structured games, it is a bit different to what I have been used to in previous years but I like it,” said Halls, who counts Stockport County among his former clubs.
“Hopefully I can increase the time from 45 minutes over the next seven days to a little bit longer and get ready to go with three weeks to go.
“I was at Macc for four years and it got into a bit of a comfort zone for me. I have only been here for three/four weeks now but I’ve really enjoyed it and I knew a lot of the lads from either playing with them or against the for Chester and various other clubs. The structure has been brilliant and everyone has welcomed me so I’ve got loads to look forward to.”
And Halls reserved praise for the next crop of talent coming through the ranks at the Blues after watching 16-year-old Lloyd Marsh-Hughes and academy graduate Matty Waters turn the game against Bala on its head in the second half on Monday with eye-catching performances.
Halls added: “It’s a positive sign for the club as a whole. With young lads coming through it gives everyone a chance to show what they can do. The young lads have done really well and that’s impressive and can only bode well for the club in the future.”
Chester travel to Wincham Park tonight (Thursday, 7.30pm kick-off) to take on Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side Witton Albion.