Jon McCarthy hailed an ‘outstanding’ performance from his Chester players as they pushed leaders Lincoln City to the wire.
The Imps ran out 1-0 winners on what was a crucial night for their National League title hopes, but the Blues were able to hold their heads up high after delivering a vastly-improved display from their awful 2-0 home defeat against York City last weekend.
McCarthy’s men, who lie in 14th spot ahead of Friday's trip to Forest Green Rovers (3pm), did ‘everything asked of them’ according to their manager, despite going down to Harry Anderson’s 35th close-range strike.
“It felt like a good game, I know the atmosphere here is created by the incredible journey Lincoln are on but I thought we were excellent,” he said.
“The players were outstanding, they did everything we asked them to do. We matched Lincoln, went toe-to-toe with them, similar amounts of good chances in there. James has a good chance, Kane goes through one-on-one, we’ve had one cleared off the line.
“I’m really pleased with the way we matched their midfield as that’s their game. We also dealt well with Rhead and the three centre-halves competed really well and Rhead was quite quiet.”
Blues midfielder Wade Joyce, deployed on the right-side of midfield, gave away possession which led to Lincoln’s winner, but McCarthy defended his player, and replied: “Wade was outstanding, I think it’s harsh to single him out.
“He’s not kicked the ball in his own net, he’s not passed to one of their players. It was a heavy touch but to pick out that moment after and outstanding performance is harsh.
“Sam Hughes was outstanding, my centre-halves played really well, big performances. You respect Lincoln as they are so aggressive to win the second balls but we never took the back foot and competed against them all night.
“I read in the local Lincoln paper before the game that Chester had nothing to play for, can’t go up can’t go down, and this was mapped out as an easy victory for Lincoln.
“It wasn’t easy and I’m very proud of the performance, yet we wish Lincoln all the best as they deserve to be promoted and to do it in style as champions.”