Chris Plummer felt Corby Town showed Blue Square Bet North leaders Chester too much respect after they slipped to a fourth successive defeat.
Early goals from Dave Hankin and ex-Steelman Nathan Jarman were enough to seal a 2-1 victory for the visitors with Paul Malone’s stoppage-time header proving to be nothing more than a consolation for Plummer’s side.
Chester’s win took them 16 points clear at the top while the defeat for Corby means they remain eight points clear of third-from-bottom Colwyn Bay, although they have two games in hand after their clash at Bradford Park Avenue was postponed.
Plummer was again left ruing a slow start to the game from his side but he insists his side have reasons to be “optimistic” as they prepare for next Saturday’s trip to Bradford.
“I felt we could take something from the game. We are on a bad run but the performance at Altrincham gave me a lot of optimism,” the Steelmen manager said.
“Again, we have let in two goals early on in the game and it left us with a mountain to climb.
“We were very much improved in the second half, I thought we did very well and we had them pressed back in their own half at times.
“They are a good side and are top of the league for a reason but we can match anybody.
“We have said it time and time again, we can’t keep giving teams two and three-goal starts and hope to get back into the game.
“That is something we have to address. I don’t know whether it is a problem with focus or what.
“All the guys have the right attitude so that is not the problem. Maybe we were a bit fearful of them, I don’t know?
“I think it took our boys 20 minutes to realise that they could compete with them. Maybe we showed them too much respect.
“Having said that, Chester are a very good side and the league table proves that. We competed with them for an hour, now we have to go and compete with sides for 90 minutes.
“We have reasons to be optimistic. It is not as if we have been played off the park. If I was standing here and we had been beaten 5-0 I would be extremely worried.
“But the way we played in the second half gives us reason to be optimistic for the game at Bradford next week.”
Plummer, meanwhile, confirmed he is hopeful of speaking a potential new signing from Banbury United today after seven-day’s notice came up.
The Corby boss didn’t name the player but said: “We have had seven days in for a player at Banbury, a left-back.
“We are still to speak to the lad but hopefully we can convince him to come over to Steel Park and be a part of what we are doing here.
“Hopefully we can get that wrapped up today because that is when the seven days are up.”
Meanwhile, the date has been set for Corby’s NFA Hillier Senior Cup final clash with Daventry Town.
The two teams will meet at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium on Tuesday, April 16 (7.45pm).