JON MCCARTHY was understandably delighted to have secured the services of midfielder Ryan Lloyd for the rest of the season.
The 22-year-old re-joined Chester on-loan until the end of the season from Port Vale, having rejected a two-and-a-half year permanent deal with Southport, which would have earned the midfielder more money in the process.
The Blues put their ‘best offer’ on the table for Lloyd, who had previously stated his desire to remain at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium until the end of the current campaign, and it was confirmed on Friday that Chester had fought off former boss Steve Burr – now in charge at Southport – to keep the talented youngster, ending speculation over his immediate future.
Lloyd played a key role in Chester’s second-half fightback at Braintree Town just 24 hours later, producing a tireless display as the Blues came from a goal down to win 2-1, James Alabi scoring twice.
“We came under serious threat to losing a key part of this football club,” McCarthy explained.
“Southport offered him a two-and-a-half year contract so we did our best to get as close as we could to what they offered. We showed Ryan he was keen and I think he was keen to keep his options open for the summer.
“I've got to give great credit to Mark Maguire (CEO) and to Lloydy himself, he could have got more money elsewhere, better deals, but he said he wanted to finish off the project here.
“Let's not underestimate what we've got here, we've got a good fanbase, a good ground, tradition and a size of crowd that is better to play in-front of.
“We put our best offer on the table and it's really satisfying to get Lloydy, and if you watch his performance today, it wasn't an eyecatcher like Alabi but he was outstanding in that midfield.
“If you see the amount of second balls and danger he stops, you can see why we worked so hard to keep him.
“We'll have another battle to keep him in the summer but people must realise there's a host of clubs interested in Ryan and he's chosen to stay here.
“I hope Port Vale recognise what he's doing and they give him his chance next season because I'd love nothing more than things to work out for the lad and for him to play at that level.”
Sam Hughes – who has been watched by Football League scouts in the past six weeks – was absent from the squad at Cressing Road, but McCarthy moved to calm fears about the 19-year-old defender.
“Sam hurt his ankle in training, there was only five minutes of training left and he went over on it,” McCarthy continued.
“I get the conspiracy theories but if you want I'll get him to tweet a picture of his ankle! It's nothing too bad, nothing serious, it'll be a couple of weeks, or if the swelling is bad it could be longer.
“I spoke to Sam and he'd have had no chance this week. But he'd want to strap it up and play so I'll have to get the reins on him.
“Players like Sam, Luke George, Ryan Astles, they would play with a broken leg, so I have to keep them reined in and we'll take Sam from there but that's the truth of the matter.”
Their third away win of the season moves the Blues into ninth spot in the table and McCarthy revealed he had tried to keep calm at the interval despite witnessing a poor opening 45 minutes from his side.
“We didn't criticise at half-time, you come up against good teams in this league,” he added.
“We've been beaten by a good Solihull side twice, so we said ‘well done on the defending’ in the first-half and then looked at how we could make a few tweaks here and there to get ourselves back in the game.
“The players have taken that on board, it's up to them. It meant we picked up more ball, passed it better and created chances. But to completely transform the performance was absolutely fantastic and that's down to the players.
“Matty Waters came on and played a major part in it and that's very satisfying. He's been in and around the team but he had a big role which is great.”