Chester FC boss Jon McCarthy aiming to set record straight against Gateshead


Charlie Croasdale

Jon McCarthy wants to set the record straight with Gateshead tomorrow.

McCarthy’s Chester host Neil Apsin’s eighth-placed side at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium (12.15pm) with the game being screened live on BT Sport, and the Blues will be bidding to avenge their 3-0 opening day defeat at Gateshead.

The Blues are in a poor run of form, having won just once in their past seven outings, and McCarthy admits he could have ‘problems’ if his side fail to muster a point tomorrow, but remains confident they will begin to convert their impressive recent displays into victories.

“It’s a good opportunity. I have staff and players who prepare really well, we’re better than where we were at the start of the season and I go into games more confident,” explained McCarthy, who remains without long-term absentee James Akintunde.

“If we lose on Saturday it becomes a problem, but in the same vain the points and results will speak for themselves.

“We’re on the television, big crowd, let’s put on a good performance and if we don’t get it right I’ll hold my hands up.

“I’m not concerned but I’m not complacent. I know how quickly you can lose six games in this league and what that can do and how it changes things.”

McCarthy will pit his wits against former team-mate Aspin, the two having played together for three seasons at Port Vale during the mid 1990s.

“It’s a decent Gateshead team. They’ve brought in good players, I have respect for them and they are hitting a run of form,” he continued. “I know we can win that game. I’m good mates with Neil, I speak with him a lot and we share information.

“There’s a lot of knowledge there, he’s experienced at taking teams into play-offs, he’s a sensible, intelligent, no-nonsense manager, and his backroom staff are as well.

“Neil rings me up and congratulates us on what we’re doing here and that’s given me a boost. He values sharing tactics and it helps me, we have that respect.

“There’s a feeling through this league now that opposition have to prepare for us, or they’ll get a bloody nose.”

Chester were left frustrated by match officials over the past fortnight, with decisions appearing to go against McCarthy’s side at key moments in both the 3-1 and 3-2 defeats at Dover and Dagenham and Redbridge respectively.

“I’d liken it to (Alex) Ferguson and Manchester United at their peak, they’re almost allowed more opportunities,” he added, bemoaning six minutes of stoppage time last week. “But I’ll spin that, that’ll be us and we need to bridge the gap to get into a position where we can take advantage of that.

“We’re a big club with a big support so imagine when we get ourselves into the top five, we’ll get things like that going for us. But I’m over it now and onto the next one and see if we can get the points to assure our safety for next season.

“I know equally how difficult it is to go on an eight-game run and we did that. All the evidence is there, there’s a realism about these group of games. But my players have produced, they’ve got up for Dover and Dagenham. They’ve made mistakes, individually and as a group but we’ve got ourselves in the right place.

“John Still was impressed by us last week and said we surprised him and praised our character to come from behind to lead and that means a lot to my group, it tells us that tactically and ability-wise we are able to compete with them.

“John has that bit of experience and he made the changes which allowed him to take the points off us. Credit to him, frustrating for me.

“I try to create the perfect storm. Let’s have the preparation, tactics and organisation right, I can control those bits. Some of the bits out of our control need to then fall into place.

“We’ve been scoring goals, we’re not short of that. Defensively we need to get that aspect right, when I looked it up we conceded 15 times in our first eight games, we scored eight. In the last eight we’ve conceded 15 and scored nine.

“So really we’re back at where we were at the beginning of the season, so we need to tighten things up.”

Ryan Lloyd and Jordan Chapell look set to miss the clash and Johnny Hunt is suspended, although Craig Mahon and Ross Killock could be involved.

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