Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
I like the idea of clawing our way above Chester in the table because in my mind it would restore the natural scheme of things.
The last time Chester finished above us in the English pyramid was 2008-9, when they were relegated from the Football League while we were in the National League.
The last time they finished above us in the same division was the season before, although neither of us could look back at that campaign with much pride as we took two of the bottom three places in the Football League.
We finished bottom of League Two and were relegated to the Conference, while Chester narrowly avoided the drop, finishing two places above us, five points ahead of Mansfield, who were also relegated.
Overall we have the upper hand in the derby, with 67 wins and 55 losses. However, since we’ve dropped into non-league football Chester have had the better of things: we’ve won 2 and lost 3 with 2 draws.
Indeed, a sudden deterioration of our derby form means we’ve only won three of the last ten derbies, having been victorious in four of the previous five.
It’s been 201 minutes since Chester last scored past us, with our defence keeping clean sheets in each of the last two cross-border derbies.
We’ve lost both of our last two matches at the Deva Stadium. Last season we fell behind to a superb John Rooney free kick shortly after the half hour mark, but Dom Vose equalised swiftly from the spot. However, Chester struck twice after the break, and although Connor Jennings pulled a goal back in injury time, it came far too late to give us hope of a point.
The season before Blaine Hudson gave us a second minute lead which we held until the 74th minute, but having conceded an equaliser we then let in a traumatic injury time goal to lose the match.
Our last win there came in the season we were relegated from the Football League. Paul Hall got the opener half way through the first half, and Michael Proctor got his third derby goal of the season in the second half to wrap up a 2-0 win.