JON MCCARTHY got the start he wanted from his new-look Chester side as the Blues dispatched Runcorn Town 5-1 at The Pavilions.
First-half goals from Evan Horwood, Kingsley James and the impressive Harry White handed the Blues a 3-0 lead at the break and although Kevin Exell reduced arrears, Liam Davies and Nyal Bell bagged second-half strikes to ensure a routine victory.
McCarthy named a strong first-half line-up including a host of new signings.
Just five minutes had elapsed and the Blues got the start they wanted as left midfielder Horwood nodded home at the back post from Nathan Brown's deep right wing cross.
This was a large chunk of McCarthy's likely starting XI for their National League opener at Solihull Moors on August 5, and Brown was keen to seize his chance on the right, in the absence of Craig Mahon, who missed out due to an eye infection but will return for Thursday's friendly at Hyde.
James Akintunde went close with a flicked effort after good work down the left touchline from Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, before Craig Cairns should have levelled for Runcorn when set through one-on-one with Alex Lynch.
White, the Blues' first summer signing from Solihull, looked physically strong and agile leading the line alongside Akintunde.
It was soon 2-0 however, as Paul Turnbull swung a corner across from the left-hand side which was headed into the far corner by James, proudly wearing the captain's armband on his return to the club.
Akintunde was cynically brought down on 28 minutes and Turnbull curled the resulting free-kick just over.
On 33 minutes, White scored his first goal for Chester. Akintunde did well to keep the ball in play on the dead ball line, feeding Horwood who found White six yards out and he produced a composed finish having put Chris Rimmer on the deck.
It was a satisfactory start to the campaign for McCarthy, who rang 11 changes at the break, including the return of Ross Hannah in attack.
But it was a former Chester player, Kevin Exell, who got the next goal, lofting the ball into the net now guarded by one of the two Blues’ trialists on the pitch on 56 minutes.
Hannah should’ve made it four on 70 minutes as his effort went narrowly wide, before Liam Davies scored the goal of the evening on 76 minutes.
Picking the ball up from Lucas Dawson on the left-hand edge of the penalty box, Davies rifled a powerful shot into the top corner of Andy Metcalf’s goal.
James Jones and Ryan Dobson looking comfortable as a youthful centre-half partnership in the second period, and Nyal Bell rounded off proceedings with an 89th minute goal in bizzare circumstances, as he collected former King’s School pupil Metcalf’s misplaced short goal-kick just outside the area and rolled the ball home.
It was a good test for North West Counties outfit Runcorn, managed by former Flint Town United and Cefn Druids boss Chris Herbert, who was pleased to have faced up to the challenge McCarthy's men posed, having thrashed Blacon Youth 10-0 at the weekend.
"Chester is the type of game we need pre-season. Macca has his side playing good football, and it's his philosophy of the way the game should be played,” Herbert said. “With the signings of Ross Hannah up front and Kingsley James in midfield to name a few, they are definitely an improved squad to last season.
"It was a great test for us, and for our lads it's a chance to see how they compare to the players from the higher standard.
“They should want to go against players from higher divisions and test themselves. It's great that we can bring a team like Chester to Runcorn."
Runcorn Town: Metcalf, Shinks, Rimmer, Jones, M Jones, McGuire, C Jones, Holt, Germain, Julian, Cairns (Exell 45), Thelwell (Read 45).
Chester first-half XI: Lynch, Halls, Astles, McCombe, Rowe-Turner; Brown, James, Turnbull, Horwood; Akintunde, White.
Chester second-half XI: Trialist A; Trialist B, Jones, Dobson, Downes; Chapell, Dawson, Joyce, Davies; Hannah, Bell.
Man-of-the-match: Harry White – Strong and lively performance on debut from the young striker, composed finish for his goal.
See full story in the Chester Leader