While making the National League play-offs may now seem like a tall order for Chester FC, manager Jon McCarthy isn’t writing this season off yet.
The Blues squad this season have somewhat overachieved so far and have been chasing the play-off pack for much of the campaign as opposed to looking over their shoulder at those battling at the wrong end of the division.
Chester have won just once in their last eight games, though, and defeats to Dover Athletic and Dagenham & Redbridge in their last two outings, both games where the Blues were unlucky not to glean maximum points, have left them nine points off the pace.
But given the lowly expectations at the start of the season, Chester have been one of the surprise packages of the campaign and McCarthy’s style of management has been well received by the Blues faithful.
And while the Chester boss admits that flirting with the play-off places for much of the campaign has raised expectations of players, staff and fans, he is keen to not lose sight of their original aim.
“We started with the target of survival and reaching 50 points, which we are on course to do, so I don’t think it is a case of this season petering out,” said McCarthy.
“We have achieved far more than people thought we would so far and that is down to the players and them buying in to what we are trying to do here.
“But we aren’t writing this season off. We want to make it the best season this club has had and who knows, if we go on another run then we could bridge that gap with the play-offs, but it was always a long shot given the other teams in the mix.”
Chester are stars of the small screen on Saturday when they host Gateshead at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium (12.15pm) in a game that is being screened live on BT Sport.
And with his side having been undeserved losers in the last two outings against strong opposition, McCarthy is keen for a return to winning ways.
“We didn’t deserve to lose either of those games and had we got what we deserved then we would have been three points off the play-offs and having a different conversation,” he said.
“But this is a group of players who are keen to impress and keep on improving and Saturday offers us the chance to bounce back and possibly kick start another little run from now until the end of the season. We’ve some tough tests to come, though.
“I’ve taken the reins off a little in the last few games in search of three points and we’ll see how far we get.”