Assistant boss Jon McCarthy admits 'talk is cheap' and the time has come for Chester FC to deliver results.

Chester visit FC Halifax Town in the last 16 of the FA Trophy on Saturday (3pm) with a campaign that started with such promise in serious danger of becoming a battle against relegation.

While the common opinion is that the squad is, on paper at least, more talented than last season, results and performances have fallen well short of the standard supporters expect.

McCarthy understands that disappointment will continue to grow unless things improve on the pitch.

He said: "We do feel like we've got the players here but there's some little missing ingredient, whether that's confidence or whatever it is.

"We're working hard and we're searching for it but I do feel it's only a little bit missing but talk is cheap and we need to get some results.

"The run is there for everybody to see and it's disappointing and there's a lack of confidence in the players but in that run there isn't a game in which we've been hammered or where we've been outplayed and there's quite a few games where the players know we should have taken more points and we shouldn't be in the situation we're in.

"It's about breaching that little confidence gap and getting them working well together as a group and that's what we're working hard at."

Read: Everything you need to know about the FA Trophy meeting with Halifax

The Blues have taken six points from Halifax this season in the league but the Shaymen are avourites to reach the quarter-finals thanks to a 12-game unbeaten run.

With ex-Chester City boss Jim Harvey now in charge at The Shay and Kingsley James and Matty Brown in the Halifax squad, McCarthy agrees there's an added spice to the game and thinks the travelling fans, who were in excellent voice in the 1-0 in West Yorkshire back in August, have a part to play too.

Kingsley James in action against Chester earlier in the season
Kingsley James in action against Chester earlier in the season

McCarthy said: "There's Matty and Kingsley there so we know about them and we know how much they will want to beat us and there's all the Jim Harvey stuff from when he was at Chester and I understand a lot of the politics around that so there's an edge to the game which makes it really interesting.

"There's the psychology of that but I'd spin that the other way round. We've beat them twice so actually for us to go there and beat them again on their own patch will hurt them.

Read: FA Trophy win can give everyone a lift, says Jon Worsnop

"They haven't won their last two games. They went to Woking against 10 men for a long period of the game and didn't get a result and then threw away three points against Welling after being 1-0 up so they may have been on a good run but actually there are areas where they might be a bit fragile.

"We recognise the position we're in but those things can turn in a game and if we get our players in the right frame of mind so that we win our individual battles and start to create some chances that will put them on the back foot.

Ross Hannah takes on ex-Blues defender Matty Brown in the win over Halifax
Ross Hannah takes on ex-Blues defender Matty Brown in the win over Halifax

"I remember the atmosphere there earlier in the season. Our fans were brilliant and it's nice set up and I remember being in the dugout and it made a big impression.

"I know we'll get good support there and what an opportunity for us to get into the quarter-finals of a competition with a game at Wembley at the end.

"The players will be very well aware of that.

"We know a lot about Halifax so tactically there's no excuses. We've done a lot of good defensive work this week and a lot of shape and a lot of stuff on set-pieces.

"In terms of awareness and knowledge there's no excuses and we expect a performance."