Airbus UK Broughton FC got their 2012 pre-season campaign up and running with a home fixture against Blue Square Bet Premier side Barrow AFC. The Bluebirds are a full-time outfit but arrived with a squad packed full of trialists, with the Wingmakers also bedding in a new-look team of their own with the summer's new signings now into double figures.
For some of the Barrow side managed by ex-Wrexham and Chester defender Dave Bayliss, this was almost a 'home' game with a number of the Bluebirds players living in the Broughton area - including midfielder James Owen who doubles up as a youth coach at the Wingmakers academy.
The first action occurred on four minutes when Ritchie Baker flicked a header wide of goal for Barrow. It was a tame opening which the visitors enjoyed the better of. It was somewhat against the run of play when, after very little action, the Wingmakers took the lead on 12 minutes. A free-kick just outside the penalty area was curled superbly into the top right corner by Tom Field, to give Airbus a 1-0 lead, and Barrow goalkeeper Danny Hurst no chance.
Kyle Armstrong dug a shot over the bar on 25 minutes in a game lacking goalmouth action - a typical early pre-season affair when players are still finding touch and fitness, played at a lower tempo than usual. It became more even than the early stages though and Mike Hayes hit the target for the Wingmakers with a low shot saved by Hurst.
On 40 minutes Gavin Skelton crossed into the six-yard box for Barrow but it was dealt with well by goalkeeper Ben Chapman. On the stroke of half-time Hayes clipped the bar with a close-range header and that was that as the Wingmakers headed into the interval, by now deserving of their lead. Both sides made a large number of changes at the break as more new faces were introduced to the action - including the customary unknown trialists.
Early on the Wingmakers extended their advantage to 2-0 when Mark Cadwallader received the ball on the edge of the six-yard box, and slid the ball coolly past Barrow's replacement goalkeeper Shaun Pearson on 50 minutes. On 54 minutes Toby Jones found the target from a free-kick but Pearson was equal to it.
Barrow played some good football but it was the Wingmakers who looked likelier to score every time they pushed forward. On 65 minutes Mike Hayes found himself in on goal and rounded Pearson after another good Toby Jones through-ball, but was unlucky to see a covering Barrow defender clear his attempt off the line.
With just over 20 minutes to go a couple of graduates from the Airbus youth system Tom Littler and Chris Thomas were introduced to the action. On 71 minutes the Wingmakers were pegged back when a misplaced pass out of defence found Obi Anoruo. The ex-Wrexham striker finished smartly to bring the score back to 2-1. Seconds later the Wingmakers defence lived dangerously again as another misplaced pass nearly resulted in an equaliser but they recovered in time to clear off the line.
For the last quarter of an hour the Wingmakers switched goalkeepers with Arron Morrison coming on in place of Ben Chapman. With 10 minutes to go Morrison foiled a low shot from Adam Boyes before the Wingmakers 45 year-old Director of Football Andy Preece turned back the clock and replaced Mike Hayes for the closing stages.
Tom Field cleverly chipped Pearson with three minutes ago but was unlucky to see his effort clip the bar. In the final minute Adam Boyes dragged a shot wide of Morrison's goal which proved to be the final action of the game. The 2-1 score-line means little in the context of this stage of pre-season, but the new-look Wingmakers certainly impressed against quality opposition.
Airbus - 1: Ben Chapman 32: Danny Taylor 8: Kyle Armstrong 16: Tommy Holmes 3: Jack Lewis 6: Tom Field 2: Ryan Edwards 11: Mark Cadwallader 10: Ryan Wade 20: Toby Jones 19: Mike Hayes
Subs - 22: Arron Morrison 14: Lee Owen 15: Sam Hart 7: Glenn Rule 4: Mike Roddy 21: Chris Thomas 23: Moses 24: Tom Littler 9: Andy Preece
Barrow - 1: Danny Hurst 2: A.Trialist 3: Gavin Skelton 4: A.Trialist 5: Mike Pearson 6: James Owen 7: Paul Rutherford 8: Ritchie Baker 9: A.Trialist 10: A.Trialist 11: A.Trialist
Subs - 1: Shaun Pearson 12: A.Trialist 13: A.Trialist 14: A.Trialist 15: A.Trialist 16: A.Trialist 17: A.Trialist 18: Alex Rae-Harvey 19: A.Trialist 20: Dave Swarbrick 21: Obi Anoruo 22: Adam Boyes
By Rory Sheehan