Chester 0 Wigan Athletic 0

Craig Morgan
Craig Morgan

Wigan Athletic were held 0-0 by non-league Chester in a typical pre-season encounter that at least allowed 22 players to get match minutes under their belts.

Trialist Ryan Taylor showed some nice touches during his first-half run-out, reminding fans of his set-piece quality by sending one free-kick just wide of the mark and another creating a decent opportunity that fellow new-boy Alex Gilbey couldn’t take.

Despite having virtually nothing to do, Latics goalkeeper Lee Nicholls had to be alert just before the break to race off his line and prevent Chester striker James Alabi having a one-on-one shooting chance.

The second period was even more of a non-event than the first, with Jason Pearce heading wide from Emyr Huws’ cross just about the only real effort of any note.

The Latics fans that travelled to Chester were at least treated to a look at former favourite Taylor, who was making his first Latics appearance since leaving for Newcastle seven and a half years ago.

And the 31-year-old was seeing plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges as he attempted to impress at right-back.

After a rather lively studs-up challenge on Max Power gave Latics a free-kick on the edge of the Chester box, Taylor’s delivery almost allowed Gilbey a free header on goal.

Summer signing Stephen Warnock was also getting forward at every opportunity down the left, and an early cross was flicked goalwards by Craig Davies.

However, it was easily snaffled by home goalkeeper Liam Roberts.

Yanic Wildschut, looking like he’s bulked up during the off-season, appeared to have the beating of his full-back every time he fancied a run down the left.

On one occasion he raced down to the byline and sent over a dangerous cross that was turned behind by Evan Horwood.

Wildschut then sent a shot from the edge of the box straight at the goalkeeper, before Chester showed for the first time as the half-hour approached.

Gilbey was penalised for a sliding challenge on former Latics junior Craig Mahon, 30 yards from goal.

Johnny Hunt placed the ball with real intent, but his curling effort was always wide of Nicholls’ right-hand post.

The game was opening up as half-time neared, and Gilbey might have done better than send a shot from around the penalty spot just wide, after good work from Michael Jacobs and Warnock.

Taylor sent another free-kick inches wide of the upright with Roberts struggling to get there, before David Perkins failed to find the mark off Warnock’s cross.

After 44 minutes of near one-way traffic, Latics almost fell behind in the final minute of the half.

A really neat passing move allowed Alabi to spring the offside trap and advance menacingly on Nicholls.

However, the Latics goalkeeper was off his line in a flash, and made a fine block to snuff out the danger.

As expected, Latics made 10 changes at the break, with only Nicholls retaining his spot in the side.

That meant another opportunity to impress for Emyr Huws and Andrew Taylor, who spent last term out on loan at Huddersfield and Reading respectively.

Huws immediately sent over a tempting cross that was nodded just wide by Pearce.

Sanmi Odelusi then provided a decent chance for youngster Sam Cosgrove, whose effort was disappointingly over the top.

A Huws free-kick from 25 yards almost squirmed out of the arms of the goalkeeper, who was able to regather in the nick of time before it rolled over the line.

Latics made their final change with 15 minutes to go, Pearce coming off after a half-hour run-out and Danny Whitehead on for his first Latics appearance.

However, despite a lovely piece of skill from Odelusi that almost played in Ryan Colclough, the visitors couldn’t force a later winner as honours ended even.

Latics first half XI: Nicholls; Ryan Taylor (trialist), Morgan, Burn, Warnock; Power, Gilbey, Perkins; Jacobs, Wildschut, Davies.

Latics second half: Nicholls; Daniels, Hendry, Pearce (Whitehead), Taylor; Huws, Morsy, Chow; Odelusi, Colclough, Cosgrove.