Thursday 20 March 2014

Staying Up, Staying Up, Staying Up?

I'm starting to feel spoiled, because Saturday's trip to Luton is the third in a run of four consecutive away games in the south.

Inevitably there have been fewer supporters making the journeys from Chester so it's a time for those of us who are Exiled below Watford gap to stand up and be counted. It was great to see so many familiar faces at Dartford and Aldershot to witness two very different performances.

Despite the presence of the BT Sport cameras at Dartford there was a fantastic turn-out. Anyone who has braved the M25 on a Friday night will testify that it was a TV choice made with no thought of the Chester fans in mind. For me a drive of less than an hour on a Saturday to my closest game of the season was transformed into a lottery and I set out at 4pm from near Brighton just to be on the safe side!

It was by no means a classic but a stunning Gareth Seddon strike seemed to have left us with one foot in the Conference National for next season. The away support was excellent and there was the added treat of watching a recording of the entire game when I got home (admitedly fast forwarding through the first half).

Aldershot was a complete contrast. The team didn't really show up. To be charitable perhaps a second long away coach trip in less than a week took its toll. We tend to forget that many of the players have to juggle day jobs with playing for Chester. For some reason the atmosphere on the away terrace was also more muted than usual, as if the lethargy on the pitch was being picked up by the fans. Maybe it was just because it was a school night.

Credit, however, to the Aldershot fans for getting behind their team which had been on a bad run. Considering the attendance of about 1500 they made decent noise and there were loads of banners. It's something I think we could learn from on the Harry Mac - I know some fans would like to see some sort of semi-organised ultras section (without the thuggery obviously) to get young supporters more involved and improve the atmosphere.

A draw in Hampshire would have kept our little unbeaten run going and kept a gap between ourselves and the Shots. Instead, with defeat against Aldershot and a draw against Southport, we are right back in the mire. Wins against Tamworth and Hyde are now a must and the derby looks like being crucial - something none of us wanted.

I'm a born pessimist and I can't help feeling that the defining moment of the season wasn't on the pitch but the recall out of the blue by Forest Green of Matty Taylor. It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under Steve Burr's feet. I suppose it shows the risks of relying heavily on loan players but thanks for nothing FGR and a plague on your play-off hopes.

So, we head to Luton with our Conference status hanging in the balance. At least it's never dull.
Battling 0-0 anyone?

Adrian Lee