THE winds of change continue to blow through Chester FC.
Another member of Neil Young’s maiden title-winning squad, Robbie Booth, is on the verge of signing for Bangor City after being given permission to leave.
Once Booth departs, only Michael Powell, Iain Howard, Ashley Williams and George Horan will remain from the team that secured the reborn club’s first championship on that never-to-be-forgotten afternoon at Garforth Town.
Powell, however, is out on loan and surplus to requirements while Howard, despite scoring 10 goals so far this season, has lost his place in the side to impressive new boy Danny Williams.
Ashley Williams’s position is more secure. In the words of his manager Young, he has formed a ‘formidable’ midfield partnership with Antoni Sarcevic.
Yet as influential as the duo are, it is skipper Horan who remains Chester’s constant.
He is a no-nonsense centre-back who is fiercely proud to captain his hometown club.
The arrival of Paul Linwood and Dom Collins in the summer led to supporters speculating that this could be the season in which the 30-year-old former Connah’s Quay Nomads and Rhyl defender was displaced from the team.
But far from falling out of favour, Horan’s importance has arguably grown stronger.
A spell on the sidelines earlier in the campaign coincided with an embarrassing FA Trophy exit at Worksop Town while it was after he was taken off in the 4-3 New Year’s Day win at Droylsden – suffering from two separate knocks – that the Blues came close to throwing away their 12th straight Blue Square Bet North victory.
Three goals to the good and cruising, the runaway leaders had to endure an unnecessarily nervy finish after their former loan striker James Ellison netted a late double to complete a well-taken hat-trick.
“It’s just a bit worrying that every time George doesn’t play, we look all over the place,” said Chester boss Young.
“Fair play to James Ellison, he took his goals well, but we’ve got balls bouncing around our own box and no-one is putting their head on it and picking up.
“I don’t think we took our foot off the gas. It was only once we took George off the pitch that we looked very vulnerable and began not to work hard enough.
“That’s not one of my sides and it’s something I’ll have to deal with.
“I didn’t just have words with the defence, I had words with the whole team. If they think they can just stroll round when they want, then they’ve got another thing coming.
“But let’s give credit where credit is due, in the first half I thought they were outstanding.”
Young confirmed after the game that he expects winger Booth to join Bangor alongside midfielder Levi Mackin, whose short-term contract has not been renewed.
Young said: “Robbie has been a fabulous player for this club. He’s a fabulous lad and we wish him all the best.”