Ryan Astles knows exactly what tonight’s derby clash with Tranmere Rovers means to both sets of fans.
The Chester centre-back grew up in Birkenhead and was on the books at Tranmere as a schoolboy, before sealing a switch to the Blues in January 2016 from Northwich Victoria.
Undoubtedly the 22- year-old’s best moment in a Chester shirt came in the reverse fixture at Prenton Park back in November, when the big defender popped up with a last-gasp equaliser to claim a share of the spoils in the 2-2 draw.
“I played for them when I was younger, I watched quite a bit of them as well, so from being around there it is a bigger game,” he said.
“Tranmere are a huge club for this level, they are going well at the moment. I think they’ve got a great chance of getting promoted or at least the play-offs, but it’s our job to try and stop them from doing that on Friday.
“A goal in the last minute, it doesn’t get much better than that! But obviously hopefully I can keep them out from scoring and if I do get on the scoresheet, let’s hope it’s the winner.
“There will be a few of my family and mates who are coming, it’d be great to score against them again as I’ve made sure they didn’t forget the first one!”
Astles admits tonight’s televised clash – with a bumper crowd of around 4,000 expected – is one of the biggest games of the season and is expecting a tough test whoever Rovers’ boss Micky Mellon opts to play up front.
“We’ve got to play our game, not let them pick up three points,” he continued. “They’ve got firepower, whoever they have whether it’s Cook, Mangan, Norwood, or even Cole Stockton who knocked in a hat-trick for them last week.
"It will be tough but that’s what we like and we want to play against the best players in this league.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us with it being a derby, it’s one to look forward to, like it is with Wrexham or Southport too.
“It’s a big game, they are near the top and we could do with a win to climb the table.
“If we’d gone in losing five on the bounce, our confidence would be at rock-bottom, but we got the win and the confidence is back in here now. Let’s see where that can take us.”
See full story in the Leader