THE arrival of Ben Mills is already bringing the best out of the other strikers on Chester FC’s books – and giving boss Neil Young some welcome selection headaches.
With Mills starting Saturday’s match at Histon on the subs’ bench, two-goal Tony Gray and fellow forward Nathan Jarman helped fire the Blues to a 4-1 success.
Mills, signed from Macclesfield Town last Friday for a four-figure sum, joined the action in the second half and will be hoping to nail down a regular starting slot for the Blues in the coming weeks.
But he faces stiff competition from rival forwards Jarman, Gray, Craig Curran and Marc Williams.
Young said: “Ben’s a good signing for the club because of what he can bring, but I wouldn’t devalue any of the players we have got here.
“Tony’s not been given that many opportunities yet because of the form of other players. But I thought he was very good against Gloucester and if anyone was at the game against Histon, they will see he had two chances and scored two goals.
“Little things like that go unnoticed with the hysteria around signing Ben. Nathan Jarman’s got his 10th goal of the season on Saturday. The current lads who are already here have done a fantastic job. Ben comes into a very good group, a very competitive group and he knows that he’s got a job on his hands to get a position in this team.”
The arrival of Mills has got Blues fans buzzing with anticipation.
The 23-year-old enjoyed a prolific loan spell with the club earlier this season, scoring nine goals in only seven appearances.
Chester wanted to sign him on a permanent basis when his loan deal expired but, amid rumours that a posse of full-time clubs were interested in his services, transfer talks stalled and Mills returned to Moss Rose.
Mills spent almost two months in the wilderness – out of the first-team frame at Macclesfield – before Southport made a bid to sign him last week. Young was alerted and managed to lure Mills away from Haig Avenue and back to the Exacta.
The transfer fee, rubber-stamped by the Blues board, was smaller than the five-figure sum Chester had been set to pay for the striker in September.
“The ultimate decision was down to Ben,” said Young. “It came down to the fact Ben had been here before. He likes the set-up, likes working with the staff, knows the players and has got a rapport with the fans. We had the advantage because we had him here on loan.”
Young stressed that the reason a deal could not be struck in September was nothing to do with a disagreement over wages, saying it was ‘never about money’.
He added: “It was always about the fact Ben wanted to stay full-time. He was informed that there were other full-time football clubs in for him, and that’s the reason he went back. It didn’t materialise.”
The fact Mills – famed for his ‘Millsbot’ goal celebration – has played hardly any competitive football in recent weeks means he will not be rushed into regular first-team action.
Young said: “It’s important we don’t do too much too soon.”