Chester FC boss Jon McCarthy says keeping the Blues in eighth place in the Vanarama National League for Christmas would put down a ‘significant’ marker for his side.
The Blues have exceeded expectations so far this season and currently occupy eighth spot, just eight points off the play-off places.
They face Aldershot Town on Saturday at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium (3pm), knowing a win would take them into the festive period in a strong position, keeping their focus on catching those above them.
It was against Aldershot, a 0-0 draw at the EBB Stadium back in September, that Chester started their superb run of form, a run of form which has seen them lose just once in 16 league games, keeping 10 clean sheets in the process.
And McCarthy, whose side booked their place in round two of the FA Trophy on Tuesday night after a dramatic 2-1 win over Witton Albion in their replay, is hoping that the latest clash with the Shots will prove significant once again.
“We are very evenly matched, we were down there when it was 0-0 and that was the start of our amazing run,” said the Blues boss.
“It was the first clean sheet and a big performance from us down there. We played them at a time when they were absolutely flying at the top of the league. It was really significant in terms of our development.
“It is a really interesting one for me. When we played them then they were above us but now we are a couple of places above them. If we can go and get that win here then we might just stay in eighth position over Christmas.
“I think people thought we would have been gone over the last couple of games. If we can go and do that again then that is quite significant for us.
“We’ve had quite a lot of challenges over the past few weeks but we keep going and we keep getting results.”
McCarthy will have to cope without the services of Blaine Hudson on Saturday after he received a red card in the FA Trophy replay against Witton on Tuesday.
But Kane Richards returns after serving the suspension incurred for his sending off in the initial tie between the Cheshire neighbours.
Hudson’s absence leaves McCarthy with a headache, but there is a chance loanee Theo Vassell could return after the 19-year-old returned to training with parent club Walsall after being sidelined with a hamstring injury picked up against Macclesfield Town at the end of October.
The Blues boss said: “Theo Vassell has trained. He trained at Walsall and we will make contact. He might be back soon.”
Meanwhile, former Chester midfielder Antoni Sarcevic has left League One side Shrewsbury Town by mutual consent.
The 24-year-old, who starred for the Blues between 2011 and 2013 before moving to Fleetwood Town, has had his contract paid up at the Shropshire club.
Wage demands and a limited budget at Chester are sure to rule out any possible move by the Blues for the Mancunian, who has been linked with Tranmere Rovers.