CHESTER’S trip to National League North rivals Darlington will be the club’s biggest game of the season, says Anthony Johnson.

The Blues’ promotion hopes have faltered of late, with a 4-0 hammering at Altrincham preceding a 1-1 home draw against 10-man Leamington.

Those results have left Chester five points adrift of the play-off spots heading into the final eight games of the season and joint-manager Johnson and has now ramped up the importance of their trip to the north east on Saturday.

“It’s a massive game for us and so important in terms of keeping ourselves in the chase”, he said.

“Looking at the table and the run-ins that the teams around us have got, six more wins should guarantee a top-seven finish.

“We know that if win our next two, we’ll find ourselves back among that group again, so winning on Saturday is huge now.

“It is our biggest game of the season because of what’s at stake. It’s about rebuilding some momentum and instilling confidence again for the home straight.”

The stalemate with Leamington left Johnson frustrated with a display he felt lacked both intensity and leadership.

He and Bernard Morley have adopted a back-to-basics approach in training this week in a bid to recapture the form that initially pushed them among the play-off hopefuls.

Johnson said: “It’s no secret that Bernard and I demand a high intensity from our players - in training and out on the pitch.

“That was missing at times against Leamington, a game which with all respect to the opposition we really should be winning at home.

"But there were one or two players looking to slow the game down at times when we should have been stepping up the pace of our passing and imposing ourselves more.

“So this week in training has been all about nailing down the basics and re-establishing those principles and values within the group.

“The sessions have been positive and the players have responded well - hopefully we’ll see the benefits of that on Saturday.”

Relegation-threatened Darlington are winless in five and Johnson hopes his side can expose the Quakers’ vulnerabilities at Blackwell Meadows.

He added: “They’re on a tough run but they’ve picked up a points against the likes of Chorley recently so we know they can hurt even the best teams in the league.

“There is a fragility about them though in terms of confidence and hopefully we can capitalise.”

The Blues are without long-term injury absentees Gary Stopforth and Matty Hughes, but welcome back George Green from suspension.

Leaders Chorley can extend their one-point lead at the summit with a positive result at Boston United while third-placed Spennymoor go to Kidderminster.

Fixtures: Alfreton v Hereford; Altrincham v Brackley; Blyth Spartans v Nuneaton Borough; FC Utd of Manchester v York City; Guiseley v Curzon Ashton; Leamington v Southport.