While a swift return to National League action may have been the preferred option after a valuable win, Chester FC boss Marcus Bignot insists his side harbour Wembley ambitions for the FA Trophy.
The Blues host AFC Fylde on Saturday in the first round of non-league football’s premier cup competition, aiming to bring an end to the long wait for an appearance at the home of English football.
Chester have never in their 132-year history made it to Wembley, and while their form in the National League season doesn’t do much to suggest that this year may be when all that changes, Bignot is keen for his players to embrace the occasion and build on their vital 1-0 win over Solihull Moors on Saturday .
“It is what it is and there is nothing we can do about how the fixtures fall, and maybe a league game might have been better but it is a competition that we want to do well in,” said Bignot.
“This football club has never been to Wembley and that is something that we as a group would like to change, certainly for our supporters.
“Obviously our main focus is ensuring we remain a National League side come the end of the season, and that will remain our priority, but we won’t be taking this weekend lightly and we want to progress.”
Ross Hannah’s 77th minute strike on Saturday earned the most valuable of three points for Chester as they edged a tight encounter with fellow relegation battlers Solihull Moors.
And while the win didn’t bring the Blues any closer to safety after Leyton Orient picked up a surprise win over Sutton United, it did ensure that they weren’t cut adrift in the battle to beat the drop.
But Bignot isn’t getting carried away and insists that it will be a battle to the end for his side.
“It was a really important win for us and it was a real clean sheet performance that we needed,” he said.
“After the volunteers did all that work in shovelling the snow off the pitch beforehand we wanted to make sure we went out there and got something from the game, and we did that.
“But this is a long, hard season that we are in for and we know that. It isn’t something that is going to change with a good December and January. We are in for a battle until the end of the season and we have fully prepared ourselves for that. But we have the mental toughness to cope with it, and that’s something that we have worked on.”
Chester could be boosted by the return of left-back Jordan Gough for the clash with AFC Fylde, who were beaten on Tuesday night 3-2 in their FA Cup second round replay at Wigan Athletic.
Gough missed the win over Solihull to attend the birth of his baby daughter but could come back into contention for the clash with the Coasters.
Also in with a chance of playing some part is striker Jordan Archer who has been sidelined for the past month.
The 23-year-old picked up a groin injury in the warm up for the Cheshire Senior Cup game at Altrincham in November but has made a return to full training this week.