CHESTER joint manager Bernard Morley has urged his weary players to seize their opportunity at York City on Tuesday night in the knowledge that a win for the Blues will take them top of the National League North for the first time this season.

Morley and co-manager Anthony Johnson watched their side miss the chance to reach the summit on Saturday after they went down 2-1 at home to Altrincham – a loss that ended the Blues’ unbeaten league run of 11 games.

But despite the defeat Morley believes any criticism of his players is unwarranted after a decent display against one of the league’s stronger sides showed him there is still enough about this Chester team to justify the hope that they could be there or there abouts come April.

"It's really hard to be negative with this group of players with what they've done this season, especially from those dark days early doors," said Morley.

"To go 11 games unbeaten with some of the sides we've taken points off is brilliant. We don't become a bad team overnight. We've not gone in the changing room at the end of the game for a reason because sometimes emotions get the better of you and you say things that you don't really want to say, so we've been coy about that today.

"We let the lads speak about it and get it off their chest. They don't need us to tell us they weren't good enough today, they know that. It's just important that we get right for Tuesday night."

The joint managers face an uphill task on Tuesday to get 11 fit players on the pitch and Morely admitted that the side they put out against Altrincham suffered from the loss of injured midfielder Gary Stopforth with winger John Pritchard and striker Anthony Dudley forced into unfamiliar midfield roles.

"We played a winger and a centre forward in central midfield,” said Morley. “You can get away with it in certain games but we didn't get away with it today.

"We had enough quality on that pitch to go and win the game. I look at the fact that when we are in possession we have got those extra two players in centre midfield who should have been better on the ball, especially going forward.

“We looked a little bit disjointed at times, but we have got players who can play in different positions. We have got no excuses whatsover.”

Tuesday night’s game will see Chester and their supporters travel to York’s famous Bootham Crescent ground for the last time after it was confirmed the Minstermen would be moving next season and Morley hopes his players will appreciate the size of the task awaiting them.

“I think it’s a game that you want to be part of and these are the games you want to play in,” he said.

“Players have got to run through brick walls to get top of the league. I never had that opportunity as a player at this level so personally I think we need more out of them.

“It’s a chance to put the wrongs of Saturday right when sometimes you have to wait a week or 14 days but good sides drop points - every side does and we’re not the only one.

“We’ve just got to make sure we’re right for Tuesday night. One or two players have never been here before and five or six have so it’s getting that balance right – when you’re top you become that side that everyone wants to beat so sometimes it’s nice to stay off the radar but the proof will be in the pudding because if we win Tuesday night we go top of the league and if that doesn’t give the lads an incentive I don’t know what will.”

York warmed up for their clash with Chester by putting in a gutsy performance at League Two side Swindon Town in the FA Cup First Round on Saturday.

David Ferguson's equaliser just before the interval raised hopes of a possible upset after Scott Twine had put Swindon ahead just 12 minutes into the game. But Steven Alzate won it for Swindon with just under 15 minutes to go - hitting a deflected shot past City goalkeeper Adam Bartlett in a crowded penalty area.

City were boosted yesterday by the news that striker Joe Ironside and defender Kennedy Digie had completed loan moves from Kidderminster Harriers with both players expected to be in the squad to face Chester.

Ironside, 25, joined Kidderminster from Nuneaton in March 2017 and scored 23 goals last season as his club finished fourth in Vanarama National League North. He started his career at Sheffield United and has also played at Halifax, Harrogate Town, Alfreton Town, and Hartlepool United,

Digie, 21, signed his first professional contract with Kidderminster four years ago and has gained first team experience on loan at Hednesford Town, Stourbridge, and Worcester City. He made 10 appearances for Kidderminster last season.