MARK Wright has asked his squad to sacrifice some of their Christmas in the Conference promotion cause.
After handing the fans a five-goal present at Tamworth on Saturday, the City manager considered taking a hard line with the players to make sure all that good work wasn't undone with the visit of lowly Leigh RMI on Boxing Day.
He was tempted to get them into a hotel on Christmas night but will settle for morning training instead.
Asked following the Tamworth match if he could now look forward to Christmas following that 5-1 victory, Wright said: 'We can enjoy it but, at the end of the day, we could be phoning around to find out where the players are and if I have to I will take them away.
'If I think for one moment they are going to let themselves down then they will be away in a hotel on Christmas night. I know that sounds harsh on their families, but we can't afford to be blase or even a few degrees under.'
Wright has since had second thoughts. 'It's all about trust,' he added. 'We will do some training on Christmas morning and that should be enough. But I haven't ruled out going to a hotel on New Year's Eve. I will have to give that some thought later.
'We have Leigh to play twice and Gravesend in the next three games and it's everything to play for. It could be a nice little cushion for us and that would be fantastic.'
Striker Daryl Clare, whose hat-trick at Tam-worth underlined his return to form after a difficult start to the season, appreciates how important it is to be professional at a time when most people are letting their hair down and indulging in Christmas treats.
Last Christmas, City dropped valuable points to Northwich which the players have not been allowed to forget. 'The gaffer has picked up on this,' said Clare.
'We are going to have a very strict schedule over Christmas and there will be no chance for anyone to slip up. We will be on a tight rein and I know the boys want to do it properly over Christmas and put last year out of our memories. It was a bad spell for us.
'It is a good set of fixtures for us over the Christmas period. Anyone can beat anyone, but if you ask me if I would rather play Exeter twice or Leigh twice, I would have to say Leigh.
'It's a good opportunity for us to pick up some points.'
Nevertheless, it's a tricky period for Chester and although they will be favourites to win on Boxing Day, Wright knows Leigh will be battling to get out of the bottom three and that presents its dangers.
'Leigh will be hell-bent on proving something and they have to be respected,' he said. 'We still have a four-point cushion and we are pleased to be there,' he said 'but we are there to be shot down. If we keep doing what we are doing, we will give everyone a game. We will give 100% and that's all we can ask for. We want to kick on and put another run together.'
All Chester's rivals must have been envious of Wright's squad which enabled him to make four changes from the team beaten at home by Steven-age and still come up with a 5-1 victory at Tamworth.
Leigh won't be taken lightly, having won at Hereford and Dagenham and Redbridge recently, but Chester have a defensive record Scrooge would be proud of and it's difficult to envisage the Railwaymen shunting them off the top of the table in the next week or so.
But one player who offers a serious threat and will be well up for this game is David McNiven who had a handful of appearances for City before making his way to Hilton Park via Scottish club Hamilton and Northwich Vics.
He has scored 15 goals in 24 appearances this season, his latest goal coming in the last minute of a 2-1 home defeat by Accrington. Defender Kevin McIntyre collected his 10th yellow card of the season on Saturday and will be suspended for the Conference game against Gravesend & Northfleet and the FA Trophy match against Halifax Town. Half-season tickets, which start on Boxing Day, have sold well, but there are still some available from the Deva Stadium.