NEIL Young offered no excuses after Chester’s 10-match unbeaten league run came to a shock end on Saturday.
The Blues boss could have pointed to the fact that the table-toppers were ring rusty after an enforced three-week break – or that he had simply become the latest in a long line of bosses to fall victim to the manager of the month curse.
But instead he congratulated plucky Radcliffe Borough on their surprise victory and admitted his side – minus suspended captain and defensive linchpin George Horan – had been the architects of their own downfall as they crashed to only their second defeat of the Evo-Stik League First Division North season.
Young, who was presented with his manager of the month award before the game, said: “I don’t think it’s a curse of the manager of the month award – more that the team didn’t perform on the day.
“We’ve got to quickly realise that sides come here with nothing to lose. Big crowd, big stadium, lovely pitch – they’re going to go and try and do their best.
“Fair play to Radcliffe, they did that, but the bad thing for me is the performances of certain players was not acceptable. Some of them thought it was going to be easier than it was. Radcliffe had the desire and we didn’t.”
Radcliffe twice went in front but Michael Wilde twice dragged Chester back into an entertaining yet scrappy contest with a double strike that took his tally for the term up to 19 goals in as many matches.
But the struggling visitors got the winning goal their efforts deserved deep into injury-time to leave Young bitterly disappointed.
Young added: “There was no strength from us, no bullying, no physicality. We weren’t getting in faces, being strong, winning headers and making tackles. We let them boss us.
“It’s very disappointing after the break we’ve had that the majority of players put in performances that were just not acceptable.”
The consolation on an otherwise forgettable afternoon was that title rivals Clitheroe, Chorley and Skelmersdale United also lost, meaning the Blues remain three points clear at the summit going into this Saturday’s big game at dark horses Curzon Ashton (3pm).
But first up for Chester is a rearranged Challenge Cup tie at Newcastle Town tomorrow (7.45pm).
Young, who is closing in on an experienced Blue Square North centre-back and a sought-after young forward, said: “I don’t think we will mix and match it too much. George Horan will come straight back in. We may give Michael Wilde a rest because at the moment if he doesn’t come to the party, we struggle.
“Michael doesn’t always play well, but he never gives in, he always puts in the effort, and one or two others should have a look at that.”