Barnet's opening day opponents, Chester, will look to make the most of their relegation reprieve this season

Chris Iwelumo won the Scottish Cup with St Johnstone last season. Picture: Action Images

Chris Iwelumo won the Scottish Cup with St Johnstone last season. Picture: Action Images

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The 2013/14 campaign was an anomaly for Chester, who for the first time in their history did not win the league title.

In fact, the Blues were relegated before being granted a reprieve owing to the expulsion of Hereford United from the Conference.

What makes their achievements slightly less impressive is the fact Chester are beginning just their fifth season since their re-incarnation on May 21, 2010.

It was, of course, only a few short years ago Chester were in the same boat as the Bulls, hurtling into oblivion head first. Expelled from the Conference in 2010, the original Chester City went out of business after being wound up over an unpaid tax bill.

Four years later and the Blues have been on an upwards curve, winning three promotions en-route to the Conference. Placed in the Northern Premier Division One North following appeal, Neil Young’s side won the title at a canter.

The following season saw a second promotion chalked up, with the Seals sealing the Northern Premier title and a place in the Conference North.

A miraculous journey under Young continued with a third straight promotion as Chester returned to the Conference Premier with minimal fuss.

The fairytale ended there, though, with the Blues languishing near the foot of the table, Young left by mutual consent with Chester in the bottom four at the start of the year.

After one match under the stewardship of caretaker Gary Jones, former Kidderminster Harriers, Stalybridge Celtic and England ‘C’ assistant, Steve Burr, succeeded Young.

Hugely experienced, Burr was unable to save the Blues from an immediate return to the Conference North, finishing 21st and going down on goal difference.

That was until Hereford’s problems reached a tipping point and the Bulls were expelled from the Conference.

Burr has been quick to re-enforce his squad, determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s struggles.

Experienced duo Chris Iwelumo and Gareth Roberts have both signed up for the new campaign, with Iwelumo joining from Scottish Cup winners St Johnstone and Roberts moving from League 1 side Notts County.

Both are 36 and both are full internationals, having represented Scotland and Wales respectively. The pair have spent most of their careers in the Football League, with Iwelumo at Championship side Watford until a year ago.

Centre-back Matty Brown has joined on a permanent deal from Macclesfield Town, after spending part of last season on loan at the Swansway Chester, nee Deva, Stadium.

Kieran Charnock – formerly of Peterborough and Torquay United – and Michael Kay, last of Tranmere Rovers, provide plenty of quality and experience at the back.

At the other end of the field, former Accrington Stanley and Stalybridge Celtic forward, Sean McConville, has joined with the brief of helping to better last season’s total of just 49 goals in 46 league games.

John Rooney is also on the books but the former NY Red Bulls and Bury forward bagged just five in 25 starts last term and is often utilised in the centre of midfield rather than as a forward.

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