RYAN ASTLES accepts Chester’s defeat at Woking makes their upcoming home games ‘must-win’ affairs.
The Blues suffered a 15th loss of a painful National League season as they slumped to a 1-0 reversal at Kingfield Stadium, unable to breakdown the 10-man Cards in the second period, with Ross Hannah hitting the bar and then denied by a fine save from Nathan Baxter.
Remarkably, Chester still remain just four points adrift of safety – although they have slipped into the bottom two – and now face back-to-back home clashes with Eastleigh and Leyton Orient which have the air of being hugely important to any chances Marcus Bignot’s side have of staying up.
“We believe every game we can get three points so it’s not going to change us,” said Astles.
“We came out second-half and gave it a good go. We’ve dominated the game from the first minute of the second-half to the last minute, and we’ll now go into those games full of belief.
“They are all must-win now. It’s what happens at this stage of the season. You put a run together and you forget about all the other games. It’s the next 14 games now that are crucial, we can’t think about what has gone on before.
“We’ve got two home matches now and we need two positive results.”
The 23-year-old defender, one of the few Chester players to consistently produce performances of note this season, believes the Blues deserved a point from their trip to Woking, having been in the ascendancy for much of the second-half after Matt Young’s red card on 58 minutes.
“It’s a tough one to take as I felt we should have picked something up from the game,” he said. “When they went down to 10 men we absolutely dominated them, we’ve had four or five unbelievable chances but we’ve got to take them.
“They had a lot of the ball in that first-half but they didn’t do much with it. I thought we were solid and the wind was tough to play against, because when we tried to get out it just kept coming back.
“But as you say, they didn’t realise test Sam (Hornby) too much in the first-half, it was just one set piece and it’s taken an unlucky ricochet, taken a little bobble, Shaun’s tried to clear it but it has hit the lad and gone in. It’s tough to take.
“Ross has hit the bar and then their keeper has made an unbelievable save at the end.
“He’s kept it out somehow, it’s a great save, but we had other clear chances as well and we could, probably should, have put some of them away.”
Astles hailed the performance of his defensive partner Shaun Hobson, the 19-year-old making his Blues debut having signed on-loan until the rest of the season from Eddie Howe’s Premier League outfit Bournemouth.
Hobson, who brings height and pace to the back four, looked right at home alongside the Birkenhead-born enforcer, despite only having had two training sessions together.
“It’s tough for Shaun, he came in Thursday and we’d only had two training sessions together,” he added.
“He’s had a full 90, it’s tough to know each others games at that point but we worked well together. We limited their chances although they’ve scored off a set piece which is one where it’s us two who could stop that from happening.
“He’s played very well. I’d like to think we complement each other quite nicely, he’s a tall, athletic lad and moving forward we’ve got James Jones coming back as well, so it’s good competition for places.”