Chester FC are setting their sights on dragging Gateshead and Hartlepool United into a relegation scrap, according to Ross Hannah.
The Blues exited the FA Trophy at the weekend after a disappointing 1-0 loss at National League South side East Thurrock United in round two of the competition.
The loss to the Rocks was Chester’s first in 2018 and came on the back of what had been three encouraging performances in the National League that had seen them claw their way to within five points of safety with a game in hand.
And while the exit from the Trophy was a disappointment, and the £7,000 prize money a fair chunk for the Blues to miss out on, Hannah says the sole focus is to remain a National League side beyond this season.
Said Hannah: “I didn’t want it to go that way but we can’t dwell on it. As a footballer one of the worst things you can be accused of is a lack of effort but I don’t think that was the case.
"We’ve got massive league games coming up and if we beat Gateshead next week then we drag them towards us and again, Hartlepool, if we win those two massive home games we can look towards achieving what we all want to achieve which is survival.
“The two North East clubs are in a very precarious position that we’ve got to look at, and we’ve got most of the teams down there to play at home, apart from Barrow away. We’ve got to use that to our advantage and claw them back and look to get out of the position we’re in.
“Going on the back of the past two league games at Ebbsfleet and Fylde, they were good away performances and now we’ve got to replicate that on our own patch and get the points needed to stay up.”
Saturday’s defeat to the Rocks ended with Chester playing with 10 men following a straight red card for midfielder Gary Roberts just nine minutes into his debut for the club after coming on as a second half substitute.
But a stunning defence-splitting pass from Roberts to Hannah in the minutes before his red card showed just what the former Crewe Alexandra and Port Vale man was all about.
“Gaz has come in, once he’s up and running he’s got that in his locker,” said the Chester striker. “When you’re on the same wavelength it’s good to have someone who can pick you out.
“Their players have massively overreacted but when they do that in the referee’s face it makes the decision for him. I’m disappointed with myself that I haven’t put the second chance away, it was a great ball by Gaz. I know he has that in his locker and he’s on a similar wavelength, we’ve seen that in just a few days of training with him. He’s picked me out with that pass and I’ve tried to dink the keeper but not had enough on it.”