JON MCCARTHY questioned Chester's motivation after they slumped to a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Eastleigh.
Chester, who have now lost their last three home fixtures, remain eight points above the relegation zone, yet there is a lingering concern that McCarthy’s side could yet get sucked into a scrap at the bottom if their poor recent run doesn’t improve, starting with tomorrow night’s home clash with Macclesfield Town.
“We’ve fallen to a sucker-punch right at the very end, so I’m very disappointed,” a crestfallen Blues' boss McCarthy said.
“I didn’t expect to lose the game, I thought we did enough to win, we had a platform the way we set-up to go on and win it but we haven’t and we’ve actually lost.
“Tactically I thought it was an evenly-matched game, we didn’t concede hardly any chances, so some of the organisation and the set-up to make it difficult, we got right.
“But we lacked a spark, there’s moments from people where we threatened to make things happen but we didn’t do enough at the other end to win it.
“We’re working and we’re trying to win games of football. There’s elements we got right, in terms of organisation and shape and I thought the back three were good. The basics we got right but I didn’t quite get my squad in the right frame of mind.
“The elements weren’t an issue at all. I’ve not got something right in terms of motivation and getting them in the right place, so I have to look at that and see where I need to go with that.
“We lacked that bit of spark and motivation because every time we play there’s a real desire to have the intensity and desire that we had against Tranmere. I know it’s a smaller crowd, it’s a grey, windy day but the players will have to get to that point, because I will.”
How the Blues' players rated
ALEX LYNCH: Produced excellent saves to deny Tubbs and McAllister and commanded his area bravely at all times. 7
THEO VASSELL: Back in the line-up having recovered from a hamstring strain, Vassell got forward at every opportunity and had a decent game. 7
SAM HUGHES: Wore the captain’s armband for a second successive game and produced some fine interceptions although not as dominant in the air. 6
BLAINE HUDSON: Played in the middle of the central defensive trio. Wasn’t at his best and dwelt on the ball more than once. 6
RYAN ASTLES: The Blues’ best central defender on the day, continually clearing away corners and making vital interceptions. 7
JOHNNY HUNT: Had a fine first-half, crashing into tackles and got forward at every opportunity, although his impact faded in the second period. 7
LUCAS DAWSON: A composed full debut from the former Stoke City midfielder, Dawson wanted the ball all the time and delivered some pinpoint free-kicks. 7
ELLIOTT DURRELL: Chester’s most industrious player on the day, Durrell had bags of energy, produced some superb crosses and was at the heart of their best moments. 8
RYAN LLOYD: Dictated the play nicely in the first-half but his influence dwindled in the second period, unable to exert his usual style on the game. 6
KANE RICHARDS: Flatters to deceive and really needs to improve his goal tally if he is to become a recognised goalscorer at this level. 5
JAMES ALABI: Worked his socks off up front as always but it didn’t quite happen for the big forward on a frustrating afternoon. 6
DANNY O’BRIEN: Sent on to inject some much-needed pace into the midfield, O’Brien looked lively when he was fed the ball in the channels. 6
TOM SHAW: Spent most of the day filing in for assistant boss Chris Iwelumo on the touchline, and nearly scored with a late lobbed effort. 6
EVAN HORWOOD: Having dropped to the bench, Horwood was trying too hard when he came on and nearly cost the Blues with an awful backpass. 5
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