JON MCCARTHY has called on Chester’s supporters to get behind their team for today’s pivotal home clash against Woking.
The Blues were booed off following their sixth successive home defeat against York a week ago, and have since lost twice more - at promotion-chasers Lincoln and Forest Green - and now lie just four points above the drop zone with three games to play.
Today’s crunch encounter with Woking (3pm kick off) now takes on added importance for McCarthy and the Blues boss issued a rallying cry to the fans.
“It's important for us, for the home fans, it's not nice to get booed off at home like we have done. There's a little bit of me that's frustrated with that,” he said.
“I think it's a lot more important for Woking to beat us in terms of points. I've said in amongst all of this, for this group to be booed off the pitch, I can't quite accept that.
“We'll be right on it and the players will work hard over the weekend to put it right. Come and get behind them, we understand the frustration but it's not through a lack of work or care. We need the fans and lets get behind the club to beat Woking.
“We've lost Blaine, Kane and Ryan. We'll keep our fingers crossed for Ryan but they are clearly important for us. If not, that group will want to put things right and see if we can get closer to our best levels.”
Asked whether he remained confident that their current total of 52 points would keep Chester up, McCarthy reaffirmed his previous stance and pointed to the fact no side has been relegated with that number of points.
However, the Blues would have been relegated on 51 points in 2013-14, had Hereford not been demoted in their place, and McCarthy's side may yet need at least another point to be safe.
“That 52 points hasn't gone down before and I'm pretty confident,” he added. “Of course I look at the results and I see it's closer, but there's teams in there who'd have to win two or three of their remaining games.
“Some would have to win all their games to go above us and I remain very much confident we will win games before the end.”
One major positive for Chester was the surprise return from a six-month lay-off of striker James Akintunde, who was introduced as a second-half substitute replacing James Alabi.
Akintunde has missed the majority of the campaign with a serious knee injury but the 21-year-old was clearly overjoyed to be back playing.
“It’s been about five or six months now, I’ve gone through ups and downs but the manager, team and fans have all been brilliant,” he said.
“I’m just buzzing to be back. I’ve played a game now and I was pain free so I just need to get myself back fit now.
“When you’re out for a long time it’s quite depressing but the coaches and physios have been brilliant, they haven’t rushed me back. If I’d had my way I’d probably have been out there earlier and injured myself again.
“We’re yet to win at home in 2017 but as a team we go through those ups and downs and we need to focus on winning again.”
McCarthy was delighted to see his striker back on the field of play, adding: “James Akintunde has had a long battle to get back and it's probably a little bit early for him to be back in but circumstances meant we needed him with us a little early.
“It's really pleasing for us who see him everyday and all the running he has to do alone and all the visits to St George's Park.
“He always has a smile on his face and he was the first on with his kit in the changing room. He couldn't wait to get the kit on in the changing room so to get him out there is something that is a big plus and we may get more games out of him this season.”
See full story in the Chester Leader