After proving the derby hero for Chester FC the last time the two sides met at Prenton Park, Blues defender Ryan Astles is hoping for more of the same against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.
At Tranmere back in November, Astles slammed home an injury-time leveller to earn a 2-2 draw with Rovers after the Blues had battled their way back from 2-0 down at the break.
That goal sparked jubilant scenes among the 1,200 travelling Chester fans last time, and while the Blues there isn’t the positivity that there was heading into the corresponding fixture last season this time around, Astles believes three points on the Wirral could provide a platform on which to build.
“Hopefully it will come round again and I can score against them again but we have to focus on ourselves, go in and put in a performance and play the way that we know we can,” said Astles, who also scored for the Blues in the 3-2 home loss to Tranmere towards the end of last season.
“It’s a derby, everyone wants to play in it and three points in this game and we can certainly push on.
“For me it’s local, it’s five minutes from my house and these are the games that you want to play in in front of seven, eight, nine thousand. It is what us players want to play in front of and there is no motivation needed.
“They have put two wins together now and pushed right up the table. If we put two wins together and get three points on Saturday then we will be chasing them.”
Mickey Mellon’s Tranmere side have fallen well below expectations so far this season, although back-to-back wins over Bromley and the Leyton Orient have hauled them up to 14th in the Vanarama National League.
One player who could come up against his former employers is striker James Alabi, who left Chester in the summer in favour of a move to Tranmere.
Seventeen goals in the league last season saw Alabi end the campaign as Chester’s leading scorer, although he has endured a difficult start to his Rovers career and he has yet to find the back of the net for Mellon’s outfit.
But whether it be Alabi or Andy Cook he’s facing, Astles is relishing the test.
Said Astles: “It will be weird as I’ve never played against him before. From him being here last year I know his game and know how he plays and that the likes it to feet rather than in behind. I’m used to playing with him but it will be just another opponent to me.
“Being a big lad you don’t want to be playing against someone small and nippy who’s running round, so any long ball game or big players, I’m happy to play against them.”