Ross Hannah insists Chester ‘can’t dwell’ on their FA Trophy exit and must now solely focus on two ‘massive home games’ in their battle to survive.
The Blues were dumped out of non-league’s premier cup competition after a 1-0 defeat at East Thurrock United, but the 31-year-old striker feels it could ultimately be a blessing in disguise due to the fixture backlog a run deep into the Trophy can bring.
Chester now have 17 matches remaining to save their National League status, currently five points adrift with back-to-back home matches against fellow strugglers Gateshead (Saturday) and Hartlepool (Tuesday) coming up this week.
“That wasn’t on a par with the defeats at Kidderminster, Dagenham type of level, I don’t think it was like that,” Hannah said.
“We weren’t at the standards we have been, that we’ve set since New Year’s Day this year, but if someone asked us if you’d take staying up but you go out of the Trophy, we’d take staying up.
“I don’t want to dismiss this Trophy, we wanted to have a good cup run, I’ve been to the final with Grimsby and we had a hell of a lot of games to catch up on and it came back to haunt us in the play-offs.
“I didn’t want it to go that way but we can’t dwell on it. We’ve got massive league games coming up and if we beat Gateshead next week then we drag them towards us and again, Hartlepool, if we win those two massive home games we can look towards achieving what we all want to achieve which is survival.
“The two north-east clubs are in a very precarious position that we’ve got to look at, and we’ve got most of the teams down there to play at home, apart from Barrow away. We’ve got to use that to our advantage and claw them back and look to get out of the position we’re in.
“Going on the back of the past two league games at Ebbsfleet and Fylde, they were good away performances and now we’ve got to replicate that on our own patch and get the points needed to stay up.”
Hannah felt Chester failed to ‘earn the right’ to beat East Thurrock, who he admits wanted it more on the day at Rookery Hill, but stressed the Blues’ players couldn’t be accused of a lack of effort.
“It's disappointing, we’ve got to be better at doing the ugly things needed to win a football match,” he continued.
“Coming to a place like this, the pitch is very heavy but you’ve got to come and battle, earn the right to win a football match. We knew it wouldn’t be easy and we had chances to take them back to our place but they played the pitch well and played a proper old-school, non-league way.
“As a footballer one of the worst things you can be accused of is a lack of effort but I don’t think that was the case. They were a little bit quicker than us to second balls and that’s not a lack of effort, just our reading of the game, anticipation.
“I’m not digging anyone out but I think they were a little better than us at that.
“We started bright, I had a chance that got a nick on it to take it wide of the post and then they did come into it, won a lot of second balls, got in behind us and got an important goal that they hung onto.
“Sam’s made a few good saves but so has their goalkeeper.”
Hannah felt Thurrock’s players ‘overreacted’ to the challenge which saw Blues debutant Gary Roberts shown a straight red card, and is disappointed the 30-year-old will now be banned for three matches after striking up a good understanding on the training ground with the Blacon midfielder.
“Gaz has come in, once he’s up and running he’s got that in his locker,” he added. “When you’re on the same wavelength it’s good to have someone who can pick you out.
“Their players have massively overreacted but when they do that in the referee’s face it makes the decision for him.
“I’m disappointed with myself that I haven’t put the second chance away, it was a great ball by Gaz. I know he has that in his locker and he’s on a similar wave length, we’ve seen that in just a few days of training with him. He’s picked me out with that pass and I’ve tried to dink the keeper but not had enough on it.”
n Chester’s home clash with Dover Athletic - schedueld for Saturday, February 3 - has been postponed due to Dover’s involvement in the FA Trophy third round. A new date will be arranged in due course.