Chester FC: Skipper John McCombe targets further FA Cup success

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

JOHN McCOMBE wants to lead Chester on a successful run in the FA Cup as the Blues captain prepares to tackle Kidderminster Harriers.

Chester begin their campaign at Aggborough on Saturday in the fourth qualifying round tie, with the experienced defender having enjoyed a run to the second round last season with Macclesfield Town, knocking out League One side Walsall in the process.

In a career which has seen McCombe play for the likes of Hereford, Port Vale and York City, the 32-year-old has experienced playing at the likes of Blackburn, Fulham and QPR in cup competitions, and is eyeing up a return to Ewood Park or a plum tie with the likes of Shrewsbury or Portsmouth if the Blues can defeat their National League North opponents this weekend.

“I’ve played in the FA Cup quite a lot and I’ve had some good experiences in the competition,” he said. “I’ve been to some Premier League teams in the cups and also experienced it at the other end, going to some small lower non-league grounds so there’s been a few different experiences in the cup.

“Fulham and Blackburn were the two main ones I’ve been to, we played against QPR too. Good experiences, good games to play in and if we can get ourselves in that draw for the first round proper, it could be Blackburn again or the likes of Portsmouth.

“If we can get past Kidderminster then the League One and League Two clubs come in and it can be great at that stage to get a big team and a big tie.

“Last year we beat Walsall with Macclesfield and then we should’ve beaten Oxford, we took them to a replay and played them away. It was a good experience and hopefully we can do that at Chester this year.

“We should’ve picked up more points than we have up until now. We know we can play a lot better and begin to build on that in the league and with a hard game at Kidderminster who are a decent team.

“I watched them a few times last year and they’re a decent side who nearly went up, they were good so we’re under no illusion it’ll be a tough tie.”

The FA Cup provides a welcome distraction for Marcus Bignot’s side, with the Blues still in the National League relegation zone in 21st spot, although four points from three games since Bignot took charge has given McCombe renewed home they will clamber out of danger.

Following last weekend’s goalless draw at Tranmere, McCombe explained: “It was a tough game but overall we played well.

“Getting a point was vital, it was a decent result although we’d have loved to get all three going into the break. Like you say it’s a good point when we’ve now got a two-week break from league matches.

“We tried to limit their chances, although they had a good couple of chances but Lynchy was in fine form in the goal. Some of the saves were outstanding, all in all he’s a good goalkeeper and you could see that.

“Overall it was a positive performance. Hopefully we can carry that form on defensively as I felt we did well and we dealt with a lot of quality balls into the box.

“We had a few half chances where we could’ve nicked the three points on another day but overall we had to be delighted with a 0-0 draw.

“There was a fantastic atmosphere, over 7,000 for a non-league game is great and it’d be nice to get a few more atmospheres like that in the latter rounds of the cup. We rose to it and it excites you to play in front of a crowd like that and hopefully the cup gives us that chance too.”

McCombe and centre-back partner Ryan Astles have looked far more assured since Bignot took charge and organisational work with assistant boss Ross Thorpe has been pivotal according to the veteran defender.

“I enjoyed that physical side of it, we’ve worked hard on our shape with Ross and the gaffer,” he added.

“That worked well and set us up to be solid and it worked, personally all the players have put in a good performance and it’s something to build on.

“We were solid against Maidenhead then for spells against Woking we played well but we can’t complain too much with two clean sheets in three games under the gaffer. We conceded poor goals against Woking but there were positives and I feel we’re going in the right direction.”

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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