THE shared heritage of Chester and Stockport County adds extra spice to Saturday’s National League North fixture, says Anthony Johnson.

As established Football League sides throughout the last century, the two clubs enjoyed a healthy rivalry throughout the 80s and 90s in Division Three and Two respectively.

Both have since fallen to the sixth tier of the football pyramid, but Blues joint-manager Johnson is excited by the prospect of renewing hostilities in front of a fervent Edgeley Park crowd.

He said: “It’s a massive game for both clubs, I think.

“These are two clubs that spent a long time in the Football League over the years, going way back, and that adds another dimension to games like this now.

“There’s a bit of niggle there and both ourselves and Stockport have a strong fanbase, so there will probably be close to 5,000 in the stands on Saturday.

“Im sure it’ll be a brilliant atmosphere for the players and both sets of supporters.”

The Blues’ county rivals were in fine form prior to last weekend’s FA Cup elimination at Barnet, where 1,542 travelling supporters witnessed a narrow 1-0 defeat in the second round tie.

Jim Gannon’s side had dispatched National League North title hopefuls Chorley 3-0 in the FA Trophy a week earlier, and now Johnson is wary of a ‘backlash’ from County.

“They’ve been absolutely flying lately and have strung together some really good results over the last few weeks”, added Johnson.

“They did really well in the FA Cup and I think that cup form has dragged their performances up in the league now too.

“Saturday is them coming back to the bread and butter of league football and they’ll be looking to climb the table on the back of that cup run.

“There could be a backlash from them after exiting the cup, so we’ll go into he game as well-prepared as we can possibly be. We’ve done all our analysis and looked at all of the scouting reports on them - we know we’re in for a battle.”

Chester head into the clash buoyed by a 3-1 triumph over Darlington, in which on-loan Tamworth striker Akwasi Asante’s bagged a brilliant hat-trick on his debut.

The result ended the Blues’ barren run of four games without scoring, with Johnson admitting that Asante’s heroics had provided a timely boost for the club.

He said: “Akwasi’s performance gave everyone a lift, I think. The supporters, the players and all the staff here too.

“We’ve made no secret of the fact we needed a new centre forward, but we didn’t rush into taking the first one that became available.

“We did our due diligence to try to ensure we got the right man and hopefully for the remainder of the month and longer term, it proves to be the right decision.”

The 26-year-old striker looks a certainty to start tomorrow’s game but winger Dan Mooney misses out through suspension.

Saturday's other games: Alfreton v Spennymoor; Altrincham v Telford; Blyth v Ashton; Boston v York; Bradford PA v Southport; Darlington v Nuneaton; FC United v Curzon Ashton; Guiseley v Hereford; Kidderminster v Brackley; Leamington v Chorley.