BERNARD MORLEY was “bursting with pride” as 10-man Chester gave Altrincham an almighty scare.

Trailing 3-0 with a man less after John Johnston had been adjudged to have bundled Dan Mooney over with only Louis Gray to beat, Chester were staring a heavy play-off defeat in the face.

But the Blues, playing for free, are nothing if not resilient, and they rolled their sleeves up to score twice through George Glendon and Matty Hughes to set-up a pulsating finish.

Unfortunately, Chester were unable to find a leveller and it’s Altrincham heading for York City in Saturday’s semi-finals, but joint-boss Morley was proud of his side’s fighting spirit in the face of adversity.

“We spoke about the criticism we’d get if it went to five, six and seven, and rightly so,” said Morley.

“I don’t know what formation we went with, you are 3-0 down and the subs were always going to make an impact, they were always going to change the game – we believe that.

“We’ve come out of the changing room there and grown men are in tears.

“We are working towards something and you don’t want to be bitter, but the game should finish 10 v 10.

“I’m very proud that we were 3-0 down and managed to get them begging the referee, begging ‘What time? What time? What time?’ That’s got to be the sign of a good team surely.”

Morley, who was standing alongside Anthony Johnson, continued: “I’m not one to go in there and tell them they’ve done well, but I was bursting with pride.

“I look around and I see people get questioned for their heart, but they covered every blade of grass, every 50/50 we were stronger, it’s just unfortunate that it didn’t drop for us.

“I’m a little bit emotional at the moment and I’m really disappointed, but we’ve given ourselves a platform and I’m quite sure that people support the fact we will be here next season and if we add one or two to that group of lads I don’t think we’ll be far off.”

Morley believes that the club’s loyal fanbase, watching on television with Moss Lane closed to supporters, will have been encouraged by Chester’s performance either side of a six-minute spell that saw ex-Blue Elliott Durrell score twice and Johnston sent-off.

He said: “People talk about the badge and all our supporters want to see is the lads have a go and at 3-0 down, God knows that they were calling us, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall!

“For the last 20 minutes I’m sure all of the Chester fans will have been bursting with pride – they should be.

“I don’t want a pat on the back for anything, I don’t want someone to say we were unlucky, we weren’t unlucky, we lost 3-2. That’s just how it is.

I don’t agree with coming second best, I never have and I won’t celebrate coming second best, but you go in there and you’ve got grown men in tears because of how much it means to them.

“We’ve been beat, whether we get beat 6-1 or 1-0 we’ve been beat, but we believe we’re going in the right direction and we’ve got a platform to build on this summer and hopefully we can get the season going and improve.”