James Akintunde insists Chester retain belief they can avoid relegation from the National League

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

James Akintunde retains belief that Chester can turnaround their ailing fortunes with a crucial month ahead.

The 4-0 thrashing at home to Dagenham and Redbridge at the weekend leaves Marcus Bignot’s Blues 21st in the National League table, three points adrift of safety, and extended their unwanted poor home record to just two wins from their past 22 competitive fixtures at the Deva.

Akintunde, 21, accepts December is going to be vital to their hopes of survival, with crunch six-pointers against Solihull Moors, Halifax Town and two encounters with struggling Guiseley to come over the festive period.

“We’ve got quite a few injuries, players out, and of course the travelling, long journeys situation doesn’t help,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of players out and who haven’t been playing a lot. Especially on Tuesday night we’ve played Orient and had a long trip home but we can’t use these things as excuses.

“Maybe it’s another factor that leads to tired legs but we just need to make things right. We’ve got Solihull in two weeks and we’ve got a few games in December where we can hopefully pick up some points.”

Asked whether the dressing room retain the faith that they can stay up, Akintunde replied: “Definitely, you can see from the first-half here and games previously that we do play well.

“It’s just getting that win. Once we get a win we feel we can kick on from that, but right now we just need to stick together, work harder and turn things around.”

Akintunde was disappointed by the manner in which Chester 'crumbled’ during their second-half capitulation against the Daggers but insists the team will ‘put things right’.

“First-half I thought we came out and looked pretty strong,” he said.

“We got on the front foot and went in at half-time at 0-0 and we maybe could’ve got into the lead as we had them on the back foot.

“We played well, but then second-half after they got that first goal we sort of crumbled a bit and they got two, three and four, and that’s not good enough.

“Everyone is disappointed but we’ve just got to put things right.”

For the Greenwich-born striker, he is at least enjoying his best run in the Chester side since joining the Blues in July 2016, and looked their main attacking threat against Dagenham as he collected the man-of-the-match award.

“The gaffer has a lot of faith in myself and all the boys,” he added.

“He basically lets us play with a free man, so when I’m on the ball I can basically do what I want.

“You’ve got to work hard and that’s the best way to play, so I feel like we’ll get there.”

Akintunde’s strike-partner Jordan Archer is hoping he can return to first-team action in time for the festive period, having pulled his groin in the warm-up to the Cheshire Senior Cup defeat at Altrincham.

Initially the 24-year-old was expected to be ruled out for up to two months, but is now hopeful he can return in time for four games in nine days over Christmas and New Year, and could even feature in the FA Trophy first round tie against AFC Fylde on Saturday, December 16.

“Originally they said I would be out for about six to eight weeks,” Archer said. “The injury is looking good at the minute and progressing well and I’ve just been in the gym keeping fit and I’m hoping after this two-week break I can get back in and play a bit. We’ll see where we are after that.

“As I went to strike the ball (at Altrincham) something just popped in my groin and I wasn’t able to carry on. I’ve gone back to see the physio and they told me six to eight weeks. I was devastated when I heard the news.

“It’s progressing well and I’ve got a lot more range of movement that when I first did it and I’m hoping I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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