FRIENDLY: Chester FC 1 Wanderers 1

Thomason celebration

Wanderers missed the chances to extend their winning start to pre-season but gained plenty more from a lively work-out at the Deva Stadium.

George Thomason’s goal should have been one of many before the break as Wanderers looked to make it three wins in their first eight days of pre-season fixtures.

But with the full sharpness still to come in front of goal, Ian Evatt’s men had to settle for a draw as Chester struck back with the last kick of an entertaining first 45 minutes.

Thomason’s goal capped an impressive performance from the midfielder, who was one of the driving forces behind a dominant opening spell.

That could and should have yielded more and made victory a formality before a number of second-half changes took some of the sting out of the contest.

But with fitness still the priority, Wanderers still have three weeks and four games to hone their killer instinct for when it really matters.

Wanderers were again without skipper Ricardo Almeida Santos due to illness, while Dion Charles wasn’t included as he makes a staggered return to action following his international schedule earlier this summer.

However, Dan Nlundulu and Declan John were back after missing the mid-week win at Curzon Ashton and both added to their game time as Evatt again spread the workload across his fit senior players.

Joel Coleman started in goal and played the full 90 minutes as the two keepers also share duties before the sharp end of pre-season.

Morley shot

And while Coleman had few saves to make he was given no chance when Joel Taylor curled a sweet left-footed effort into the top corner to level for the National League North side, who will be hoping to repeat last season’s promotion push.

Up to that point almost all the attacking came from Wanderers, who racked up the first-half chances in a slick performance.

Kyle Dempsey was again behind many of Wanderers’ best moments with his trademark late runs into the penalty area constantly stretching a Seals’ defence including former Whites’ centre-back Liam Edwards.

Behind Dempsey, Thomason did much of the probing with an eye-catching displayed highlighted by the opening goal nine minutes before the break.

The midfielder’s right-footed strike – after being teed up by Josh Dacres-Cogley – took a deflection before flying past Chester keeper Wyll Stanway but was the least the Whites merited from a wave of forward movements.

Dacres-Cogley was again prominent and after cutting in to curl one effort just over the top the wing-back drilled a cross to Aaron Morley, who sized up a strike he sent against the woodwork.

Stanway saved a Dempsey header, a Dacres-Cogley effort and then a flicked finish from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson with his legs when Wanderers’ threat came from the other flank in the shape of Randell Williams, who also headed a chance wide before Chester levelled with their first effort on target.

Dempsey header

Wanderers then made six changes at the break and one of the substitutes was only inches away from restoring the lead as Victor Adeboyejo ran onto Morley’s pass before curling a shot just wide.

Chester saw more of the ball but again it was the Whites who went closest to another goal when Kieran Sadlier and Cameron Jerome combined for Sadlier to roll an effort just wide before Evatt made his final changes of the afternoon with outings for youngsters Nelson Khumbeni and Matt Tweedley.

Chester also made changes and one of their substitutes, Charlie Caton, curled a long-range strike against a post with 20 minutes to go.

And with Jerome then steering two headers just wide of the target within the space of a few seconds and Matt Tweedley unable to direct a late effort goalwards there was to be no winner as Wanderers completed another leg of their journey towards the real thing.

Wanderers: Coleman; Jones (Sadlier HT), Forrester (Conway HT), Iredale; Thomason (Khumbeni 66); Dacres-Cogley, Dempsey (Sheehan HT), Morley (Tweedley 66), Williams (John HT); Nlundulu (Jerome HT), Bodvarsson (Adeboyejo HT).

Chester (starting): Stanway, Coates, Williams, Edwards, Taylor, Whitehouse, Weeks, Daly, Goodson, Trialist, Hall.

Attendance: 1,419

Read Time: 4 mins