County’s pre-season officially got underway with a big 0-4 win at Nuneaton Borough, with The Hatters returning to Liberty Way for the first time since our memorable National League North title win back in 2019.
First-half goals from Mark Kitching, Connor Jennings, Will Collar and Ethan Pye sealed a commanding win for Dave Challinor’s side, as preparations for our EFL return this season continued to take shape in Warwickshire.
Ben Hinchliffe, Sam Minihan and Ash Palmer all started in County’s first-half line-up, just as they had done at the same venue back in 2019 on that unforgettable title-winning afternoon.
Jennings and Scott Quigley spearheaded the attack for the opening 45 minutes, with Ben Whitfield joining Collar and Antoni Sarcevic in midfield.
Challinor’s side, debuting the resplendent new blue ‘zig zag’ home strip, dominated possession from the off, with Jennings flicking an early effort straight into the arms of Tony Breeden in the Nuneaton goal.
County – backed by a strong number of ever-vocal travelling fans – didn’t have to wait too long for the opening goal of pre-season, as Kitching cut in onto his right and fired a deflected effort high past Breeden just after the 20th minute.
Five minutes later, Jennings outjumped the unfortunate Breeden to bundle Elliot Newby’s cross into an unguarded goal and double the Hatters’ lead.
A further five minutes after the second, the visitors made it three when that man Will Collar marked his new three-year County deal with a goal, slamming home from Quigley’s cross into the box.
And, just prior to the break, Ethan Pye classily guided Sarcevic’s outswinging corner inside the far post to make it four for the National League champions.
HALF-TIME: Nuneaton Borough 0-4 County
An entirely different outfield ten featured for the second half, with new boys Fraser Horsfall, Connor Lemonheigh Evans and Kyle Wootton all making their County bows.
Captain Paddy Madden partnered Wootton in attack, whilst the Welsh wizard Macauley Southam-Hales made a welcome return from injury.
Madden almost made it five straight away with a well-timed header straight at Breeden, before Wootton went closer still with a close-range effort parried away from danger.
Lemonheigh Evans looked to have grabbed his first County goal late on with a tidy finish low past the busy Breeden, only for a late offside flag to thwart The Hatters.
Myles Hippolyte then latched onto a Southam-Hales pull-back to rattle one off the face of the crossbar, before Lemonheigh Evans planted a close-range header over the bar – but the hosts managed to see out the closing minutes without further damage to the scoreline.
FULL-TIME: Nuneaton Borough 0-4 County
First-half XI: Hinchliffe; Minihan, Palmer, Pye; Newby, Sarcevic, Collar, Kitching; Whitfield; Jennings, Quigley.
Second-half XI: Hinchliffe; Keane, Horsfall, Johnson; Southam-Hales, Lemonheigh Evans, Croasdale, Hippolyte, Rydel; Wootton, Madden.
Goals: Kitching (23’), Jennings (28’), Collar (33’), Pye (41’).