STRIKER Rob Hopley is keen to steer the Blues away from the lottery of a nerve-racking end of season play-off spot.

The Chester forward still remembers the experience of winning promotion with Colwyn Bay last term, but is hoping his new club can secure the one automatic route to the Premier Division.

Hopley, 25, top-scored for Colwyn Bay last season with 23 goals and earned the club’s player of the year award.

And he is now keen to play his part in helping Chester spark a vital winning run of results to maintain their hopes of automatic promotion.

He said: “Everyone has been impressed with Chester’s away form so far this season, but we must match those performances at home if we are going to maintain our hopes of promotion.

“I would much prefer to win automatic promotion rather than go through the process of the play-offs like I did last season with Colwyn Bay.

“Although I celebrated success with Colwyn Bay, it would have been a lot easier and more comfortable to have won promotion automatically.

“I’m still confident that Chester have everything in place to challenge for promotion, but we will face a lot of competition.

“I’m expecting Chorley to be battling with us throughout the season, but I also think that Skelmersdale United and Curzon Ashton won’t be far away like they have both proved in the last couple of years.”

Hopley agreed with Blues boss, Neil Young’s assessment of Chester’s poor display in last weekend’s disappointing 1-1 home draw against Prescot Cables.

He added: “Everybody at Chester was bitterly disappointed that we didn’t beat Prescot Cables because we should be beating teams like that at home.

“We kept possession well in the first half but, as the gaffer said after the game, we then started to play the ball backwards and sideways instead of trying to play the ball into attacking areas.

“We failed to create as many chances as we should have done which was a big disappointment, especially on the back of our home loss against Chorley.

“The gaffer did change our formation and Andy Burgess played a key role during the first half against Prescot Cables. The wingers also gave us a bit more width when they came on, but our goalscoring chances were still limited.

“Michael Wilde and I needed more space and more creativity from midfield, but that didn’t happen.

“Everybody in the team needs to adapt to different formations sooner rather than later because we can’t afford to be dropping two points at home and finding ourselves playing catch-up.”

Hopley is hoping that Chester can now battle their way back to winning ways this Saturday at Harrogate Railway Athletic.

He said: “We need to be pushing the pace at the top of the league table. Everybody is hoping that Saturday’s 1-1 home draw was just a blip, but maybe some of the lads are struggling in front of a home crowd.

“It was a little bit quiet during the first half against Prescot Cables, but maybe we need to liven things up by creating a few more scoring chances.

“New signing Kyle Wilson will provide Michael Wilde and me with more competition which is a good thing because it will keep everybody on their toes.”