Chester FC 4 Wigan Athletic 0
SUPERB Chester ripped apart an inexperienced Wigan side at the Deva Stadium.
Goals from Michael Wilde, Oliver Ryan, Rob Hopley and captain George Horan ensured the Blues of an emphatic and well-deserved victory over their Premier League opponents.
And a perfect day for the delighted home supporters was rounded off when Roberto Martinez made an appearance in the stands late on in the game.
Spaniard Martinez, the popular ex-Chester midfielder, had only been in the country a matter of hours after spending the week in an Austrian training camp with the Latics’ first-team stars.
But that did not stop him from making the effort to see the club he served between 2006 and 2007, and that effort was recognised by a 1,638 Deva crowd when his arrival was announced over the tanoy.
Legendary former Blues player and manager Graham Barrow was also offered a warm welcome before the match – but that welcome was not extended to the pitch.
Barrow, taking charge of Wigan in the absence of Martinez, saw his young side completely outfought and outthought by a Chester outfit who produced their best performance yet.
The visitors, featuring the likes of England Under 19s international goalkeeper Lee Nicholls and striker Callum McManaman, cousin of former Liverpool star Steve, had no answer to Neil Young’s vibrant team.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages, but the hosts always looked the more likely and it came as no surprise when they broke the deadlock in the 30th minute.
Excellent left-back Chris Williams was the man who created the opening goal, with his inswinging right-wing corner being expertly headed in by Wilde for the striker’s fifth goal in five games.
Three minutes later and it could have been two as Horan just failed to get a telling touch to another tempting Williams centre.
On an excellent Deva surface, the Blues were growing in confidence, and that was evident when Adriano Rigoglioso came desperately close to scoring his first goal for the club when his stunning 40-yard strike clipped the crossbar.
But Chester were not to be denied and seven minutes after the restart trialist Ryan punished haphazard defending in the Latics backline with a crisp strike into the far corner.
And two became three on 68 minutes when Hopley – one of seven second-half substitutes made by Young – headed in yet another enticing corner by Williams.
The quality of Chester’s delivery into the box has been a real feature of their mightily impressive pre-season, so it came as something of a surprise on the eve of the game when boss Young revealed that they had only had one session on set-pieces so far.
More practice will serve only to hone already considerable skills, which were demonstrated once more in the 73rd minute when sub Iain Howard crossed for Horan to loop in his first goal for his hometown club and complete the scoring.
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: Nicholls (Welsby 32), Gervin, Buxton, Langley, Goldbart (Wills 46), Mustoe, Holt, Morris, Redmond, Lambert (Lewis 43), McManaman. Subs: Astless, Myler, Lynch, Chow.