Chester FC: FA Trophy exit may help us win league, says Iain Howard

IAIN Howard believes Chester FC’s exit from the FA Trophy could be a blessing in disguise.

The Blues were knocked out by Ebbsfleet United on Saturday but Howard reckons the battling 3-2 defeat may actually help their push to gain a second successive promotion.

The midfielder, who came on for the injured Jerome Wright in the pulsating second-round tie, said: “I enjoyed being part of the FA Trophy because there’s a chance to play at Wembley at the end of it.

“It was disappointing on Saturday to get knocked out because we let in some sloppy goals but now it gives us more focus in the league and we have less games to play.

“It might end up being a blessing in disguise which will save our legs a bit. It’s still pretty close at the top of the league so we need everyone to be firing and fit.”

Howard was part of the Chester team which won the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League First Division North title in the reformed club’s first season.

With the Blues currently three points clear at the top of the Premier Division, the 24-year-old has praised the professional approach the club takes in its attempt to climb back up the English football pyramid.

“Because of the fan base, it’s a massive club,” said Howard.

“They’re looking at a five-year plan to get back in the Conference and so far they’ve done brilliantly. It’s like being at a professional club because the way it’s run and the way we do things is unbelievable at this level.

“Little things like if we have a long journey for an away game we always stay over and do things properly like at a professional club.

“They want to be back in the Conference in five years and with the way things are going I’d expect that to happen.”

Howard has scored eight goals so far this season, to add to the 10 netted in the unforgettable 2010-11 campaign, but his primary motivation remains helping his team-mates to back-to-back championships.

“On a personal level it’s going well for me,” said Wigan-born Howard. “I’ve managed to get a few goals, eight up to now, and I feel I’m doing well. I’ve got a little target for myself every season and I think it’s going well.

“It’s mainly about winning the league again, though, and as a team we’re doing brilliantly. We have a great set of lads and I’m really enjoying my football at Chester.”

Monday’s Reserve Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at the Exacta Stadium was postponed because of a frozen pitch.

One person disappointed the game did not go ahead was the Red Devils’ Chester-born striker Michael Owen.

He revealed on Twitter that he was going to attend the match.