JON McCARTHY hopes Chester can provide their fans with a ‘special night’ at home to rivals Tranmere Rovers after putting an end to their poor recent run.
The Blues’ boss admits some of the pressure has been lifted following Saturday’s 1-0 win at Southport, as his side put an end to a run of four straight defeats which had seen them drop to the foot of the form table.
He now believes Chester can ‘get excited’ about Friday night’s derby clash with high-flying Tranmere, and wants to maintain the Blues’ unbeaten record in derby matches this season, so far recording three draws from their two match-ups with Wrexham, and November’s hard fought 2-2 draw with Micky Mellon’s Rovers.
“It would have been real pressure, I’m on the record as saying you can easily go six games without winning a game and if we’d not got the result (at Southport) we’d have faced Tranmere and it would have been difficult circumstances,” the Blues boss explained.
“It takes some pressure off that game. I saw Tranmere the other night, it’s a fantastic group they’ve got and a good manager who knows how to win stuff and get out of this league.
“They will be in the running despite the success Lincoln are having. They are really efficient, well-organised and with (Andy) Cook they have a good threat so we’ll do our work and assess the problems we’ve got with injuries to George and Shaw who are key players for me in terms of experience.
“I’m excited about Tranmere. We have two massive clubs around us, and they are massive in terms of fanbase and resources but we’ve come up against them three times this season and they haven’t taken us yet. That is quite satisfying from where we’re at.
“Our fans need to realise that when we took 1,200 fans to Tranmere, that’s when I realised where we’re at and I can now see we can bridge that gap. To get us closer we need to do things on and off the pitch to have a realistic chance of going for the play-offs.
“I hope our fans come along on Friday and show us that kind of support that we had at Tranmere and I hope we can give them a special night at home.”
Chester had shipped 12 goals in their past four defeats prior to Saturday’s three points at Haig Avenue and McCarthy was understandably pleased to have seen his defence record a long overdue clean sheet, with 19-year-old centre-half Sam Hughes singled out for individual praise.
“Defensively it was better, second-half I wasn't too happy and we’ll have to pick the bones out of that,” the 46-year-old continued.
“But first-half when it was coming on to us, I thought we were solid and Sam Hughes was. We lost him for over a month and it takes a few games to get him back to fitness.
“It’s the same with the likes of Ryan Lloyd who is very important for us in terms of protection (for the defence).
“We’ve not made excuses. I’m careful not to bite back when we’ve had bad results, but we’ve had changes in goalkeepers, personnel at the back, injuries, and a few sendings off in there.
“That’s gone against us and it does make it difficult for me to measure of our performances. We had a similar situation at the start of the season and we’ve worked really hard to correct it. We’ve learned from that and that will make us better going into next season.
“We’ll be right up there in terms of goals scored and we’re up there in terms of clean sheets, but there’s some middle ground where we’ve conceded too many goals in a certain group of games. I look at patterns, teams and shapes, and why it’s happened on those occasions but we’ve shown a lot of character after some criticism from different areas.”