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Jon Whitney pleased with fitness and performance after Chester win

22 July 2017

Manager Jon Whitney was pleased with his side’s tempo and performance in their latest pre-season friendly at Chester with two weeks until the start of the 2017/18 Sky Bet League One season.

The Saddlers won 2-1 at the Swansway Chester Stadium as goals in either half from Luke Leahy and Mitch Candlin cancelled out Nyal Bell’s second-half volley.

Liam Roberts played 90 minutes in goal for the Saddlers, while centre-halves James Wilson and Jon Guthrie also played the full game as Whitney's side gear up for 2017/18.

For Whitney, there were plenty of positives to take from the squad’s fourth friendly in a week ahead of that opening-day trip to Bury - and the Saddlers’ manager was particularly happy for the two goal-scorers.

“From a fitness point of view I’m really pleased,” said Whitney. 

“I thought we played at a good tempo, and I thought the first half we really dictated play and we should have gone in two or three up. 

“It’s really nice to win the game, great for Mitch to get his goal and great for Luke to get his first goal. 

“It’s nice to get one from a set piece - on the second phase - and it’s nice for Mitch on his first touch to get that, that’ll be great for him. 

“It was nice to reward Mitch after he scored two in midweek (at Stafford Rangers).  

“As you can see he doesn’t  need many chances to get his goal - he’s a natural goal-scorer. 

“Tobias came on and understood his shape. Maz Kouhyar showed some good energy and tired after 70 minutes.

“It’s another good run-out and another 90 minutes in the legs.”

The game was also an important step for midfielder Reece Flanagan, who completed the full 90 minutes against Chester. 

Flanagan missed the entirety of the 2016/17 season through injury, initially a knee injury and then a dislocated shoulder. 

“Overall it’s great to get some minutes in the legs,” added Whitney.

“Reece has got a game and he’s been out for a long time. 

“Liam Kinsella has come in and done well again. It’ll be really good competition between him and Nicky this season. 

“The two centre-halves (Wilson and Guthrie) were very commanding - they’re forming a really good partnership so I wanted to see how they did today against Chester. 

“It’s good to get that first win of pre-season under the belt.”

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