JON MCCARTHY has vowed to see Chester bounce back in their reverse fixture with Solihull Moors on New Year’s Day.
The Blues suffered a first defeat in eight National League matches when beaten 3-2 at Damson Park on Boxing Day, but played 74 minutes with 10-men after Johnny Hunt’s 16th minute red card.
Chester were undone by Omari Sterling-James’ fine brace and despite goals from Elliott Durrell and Kane Richards, McCarthy’s side left with no points on the board, but do remain seventh in the table and the boss has vowed to see his team respond on Sunday.
“It was disappointing, but I was delighted with the work rate of the players. They’ve had to work hard for long periods with 10 men,” the Blues boss commented.
“A lot of things went against us, injuries, cards, but we’re not ones for making excuses, we’ll look at where we should have done better, analyse that and get it right next time.
“There’s not many positives to take, but there’s a couple of goals in there and the spirit was really evident in our performance.
“A couple of the goals are disappointing from our point of view but the organisation, discipline with 10 men was excellent, we work on that in training. So we knew what to do and we did it for a long time. Plus we’ve scored twice with 10 men so we’ve got to take that as a positive.
“We’ve got a group in there where when we’ve been under pressure and needed something, we’ve found that moment and we’ve got out of a hole. We’ve played for over an hour with 10 men, that spirit is evident.
“There was signs of that, Duzza getting his goal and the 10 out there did everything to try and prevent them scoring.
“We’ve lost it by a goal but I’ve got every confidence we can turn it around and reverse our fortunes on New Year’s Day.
“Tom Shaw produces an outstanding block just before half-time, it’s disappointing it went against us. Then in the second-half they’ve had joy down the side. Evan Horwood, Ryan Astles and Matty Waters should stop that, they should’ve stopped Sterling-James from getting in there.
“There’s certainly disappointments and things I’m disappointed in from myself but despite all the cards that went against us, I felt it was a disciplined performance.”
There was bad news on the full-back front for Chester. With Hunt now banned for the return clash with Moors, fellow left-back Evan Horwood is also struggling after suffering a shoulder injury in the second-half.
Matty Waters is likely to start, although there is also the option to switch to a back three of Ryan Astles, Sam Hughes and Blaine Hudson.
“I’m not quite sure the extent of it but we’ve certainly lost Evan now for a period of time,” McCarthy continued.
“I’m probably set to lose Johnny Hunt for three games for the challenge, it seems harsh.
“I’ve had three lads playing at left-back, that was a challenge we had to cope with. It affected a lot of my decisions tactically.
“We’ve kept the most clean sheets in the league so we’ve not had any issues defensively, there’s no excuses there. It’s difficult because people want me to say things after the game but I can’t if they’re not there. It’s not my style, I’m quite level-headed.”
When asked how the Blues will approach their first fixture on 2017, McCarthy explained: “Who will I have available? We were 0-0 away from home here and then 1-0 up heading to half-time so there’s things we got right.
“But the injury and suspension situation now changes everything. You don’t expect to win every game over the course of a season and things like that happen.
“The squad is the squad we’ve got, that’s the situation we’re in and I’m more than happy with the current group of players heading into January.”
Of the crowd in excess of 1,400 at Damson Park, over half were Blues supporters and McCarthy paid tribute.
“We’d like to thank the fans for their tremendous support, to travel here on Boxing Day and it shows you what a football club we’ve got here and the club is down to the supporters,” he said.
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