ANTHONY JOHNSON says that this season’s shock FA Cup exit has attached extra significance to Chester’s FA Trophy campaign.

The Blues head to in-form league rivals Southport tomorrow in the third qualifying round clash, looking to break a three-game winless run at Haig Avenue.

Joint-manager Johnson says that the 4-3 FA Cup humbling at north east minnows Dunston last month should motivate his players to do better in pursuit of silverware.

Johnson (below) said: “The Dunston result still hurts and yes it does make us want to give a better account of ourselves in cup competitions.

“We created so many chances to have won that game that we failed to take. It was also one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve ever seen, but all people see is the result and the fact we were knocked out by a lower league side.

“It was tough to take but it should give us a bit more of an incentive to get as far as we can in the trophy and give our supporters something to cheer about.

“We’re going up against the league’s most in-form team and coming away from there with a win is going to be tough.

“They’re absolutely flying right now after beating some of the league’s top sides and the confidence there among the players and the crowd will be sky-high.”

“We need to go there and impose ourselves on the game early by not letting them dictate things too much to get on top.”

Former Chester defender Ryan Astles will line-up in the heart of Southport’s defence on Saturday and he is relishing the chance to face his old club.

The imposing centre-back spent two and a half years with the Blues but left in the summer to link up with ex-Blues manager Jon McCarthy, now working as assistant to Sandgrounders boss Liam Watson.

Astles made an impressive return from injury last weekend as he bagged a 95th minute winner in the 2-1 triumph at Boston United to stretch Southport’s winning streak to four games.

And with his side soon set to face Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup, Astles is convinced his side can fight on three fronts this term.

He said: “Why not? We’re going really well in the league and we want to keep that momentum going now in whatever competition we’re playing in.

“It feels like we’ve now got that bit of luck on our side now.

"Things are dropping for us in games now and going our way instead of for the opposition and now we’re looking up in the table and trying to finish as high as we possibly can this season.

“We’ve started dominating games now and playing with more confidence and hopefully we can take that into the weekend.”

Chester were a club beset by financial problems last season, with Astles part of an exodus of players as the Blues struggled to balance the books.

His club commitments with Southport have prevented him from watching Chester this season, but he believes the club are in safe hands under management duo Johnson and Bernard Morley.

He said: “It’s going to be a very tough game. Chester are a massive club and it does look from a results point of view that things have stabilised there.

“The managers have brought in the players they’ve wanted and they’ve shown how capable they are in this league by going on a long unbeaten run.

“They’ve got into the promotion places and I’m sure they’ll be up there at the end of the season too.”