CHESTER defender Steve Howson has said the players owe Blues fans a performance after Tuesday night’s home drubbing at the hands of title chasing Stockport County.

On an embarrassing evening, Chester slumped to a 6-0 loss in front of their own supporters - many of whom had left by the time County scored two late goals.

A win could have taken Chester into the play-off positions but instead the Deva outfit now find themselves in tenth place, four points outside the top seven and with just four games to play - the first of which is the visit of York City where the atmosphere could turn toxic if another defeat is on the cards.

“I can’t explain what happened on Tuesday,” said Howson, who came off the bench in the second half as the Blues chased the game. “I thought we actually started reasonably well but when they scored it knocked every bit of confidence and belief we had in us and then before you know it was two goals down and then three,

“We had a bit of a go in the second half but we’ve ended up letting ourselves down massively.”

The thrashing took County top of the league and Howson admitted Jim Gannon’s side have a lot going for them.

“They are very organised,” he said. “They don’t have flair or pass it around but they are just very methodical and disciplined. They were stronger than us.

“There’s no hiding now: we have to bounce back and there’s 12 points to win.”

More than 3,000 supporters watched Chester’s capitulation on Tuesday but it was the Hatters fans who made the noise and provided a hostile atmosphere.

“We’ve got plenty of experienced players who’ve played in front of bigger crowds than that so I don’t think nerves came into it,” said Howson.

“We were shellshocked afterwards and the lads were down in the dumps but you can’t dwell on it because we have another massive game tomorrow which we simply have to win.

“We need to forget about that shocking, horrible performance which we all apologise for as a group, and now we have to show what we are about tomorrow, end of.

“The gaffers told us it was a disgrace and to go home and reflect on what you’ve just served up. York will be a very tough game but we have to show some cojones.

“We owe the crowd that because people pay good money and take time out of their lives so to see us wilt like that wasn’t good enough and we need to do better.”

Facing the Blues tomorrow will be Sean Newton, who kicked off his career at The Deva back in 2007.

Newton is back in favour with the fans at Bootham Crescent and has praised boss Steve Watson for helping him do that.

“I’d had a tough eight months, but I’ve got a manager now that I feel I can bounce off and I’m enjoying my football again,” said Newton, who went on to play for Chester’s arch rivals Wrexham.

“I know exactly what he wants from me and he’s got me playing in one position every week.

“I did question whether I had a future here, as you obviously do when you’re not playing or in people’s plans. I’ve always played 40 or 50 games a season and I was thinking, at one point, that maybe it was time to find a club.

“But football’s a strange game and, within a week, we lost a couple of games and the old gaffer was gone and then the new gaffer came in, so everyone got a fresh start.

“Criticism comes with the job and I think the suggestion was I didn’t want to be here, but that’s never been the case.

“I’m just trying to show everyone that I do. I always work hard in training every day and I never refused to play for the club.

“I just want to get a rapport back where the supporters know I want to be here and I’m giving it my all.”

Leaders Stockport County, who hammered Chester 6-0 at The Deva on Tuesday, host Blyth while second-placed Chorley go to Altrincham.

Stockport boss Jim Gannon is expecting a tough challenge from visiting Blyth.

He said: “Blyth are in good form and we need to respect where they are at. They are a team that’s still in the hunt for the play-offs and there will be loads of twists and turns.

“Blyth have had a game on Tuesday and we need to trust in our recovery.”

Saturday's fixtures: AFC Telford v Curzon Ashton; Boston v Darlington; Bradford PA v Nuneaton; FC United v Kidderminster; Guiseley v Ashton; Leamington v Alfreton; Southport v Hereford; Spennymoor v Brackley.