Chester’s 2019 ended in disappointment as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Curzon Ashton.
It was a Jekyll and Hyde showing from the Seals, as they ended an excellent first half goalless and slumped to a loss in the second.
Ex-Blue Andy Halls headed the only goal of the game after the restart as the Nash secured their first away win of the season.
Chester drop to 4th as a result of Brackley’s 2-1 win over Kettering but could’ve been looking further down if not for Southport’s 3-0 thrashing at Altrincham.
Having only won at the Merseyside club two days ago, Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley made a couple of changes to the squad, with Bradley Jackson and Danny Livesey replaced by Elton Ngwatala and James Jones.
Chester started the brighter of the two, as the replacement winger launched his first effort from the edge after an excellent knockdown from Akwasi Asante.
Then the Blues’ newest addition had a goal ruled out for offside on 12 minutes, after George Waring had turned well and fed Joel Taylor for a cross down the left channel.
The towering forward continued to impress as the half neared the midway stage, firstly just out of reach of Ngwatala’s ball before linking up with the winger again who fed Asante, though Cameron Mason was alert at point-blank range to deny him his 15th league goal of the season.
Andrew Scott nearly put the visitors ahead against the run of play, running onto a delivery that Russ Griffiths had to fumble behind. The corners that followed came to nothing.
A slow end to the first period saw Ngwatala booked and Gary Roberts whip a free-kick well over from 25-yards, unable to recreate Thursday’s magic as the referee blew for half-time.
Despite their good work before the break, Chester fell behind shortly following the rebound as Halls nodded home at the back post. The hosts then began to struggle, finding it difficult to pick out a blue shirt and not playing with the same fluidity as they had been.
Curzon began to knock on the door for a second after an hour, with the last of a succession of corners punched away by Griffiths and eventually nodded off the line by Taylor. Scott came forward again with a powerful shot that was palmed clear.
Then a minute later they thought they’d doubled their lead. Club top scorer Sean Miller curled an ambitious effort against the far post before Michael Calveley turned in the rebound, though he was offside to the Blues’ relief.
As the final quarter of the game beckoned, Taylor smashed an effort towards goal that was always rising as Chester began to take the game back to Curzon. Ngwatala launched a similarly wayward shot a moment later.
Asante was next to have a go from the edge, his low effort was gathered by Mason at the second attempt. Then with ten minutes to go the Nash ‘keeper adjusted tremendously to save Anthony Dudley’s deflected strike as his body leaned the opposite way.
Charlie Jolley should’ve put the game to bed but Griffiths twice denied the substitute with his chest. Down the other end the Blues’ nine was kept out one-on-one by the visiting stopper as four minutes went up for stoppage time. It should have been level.
Roberts again attempted to recreate his wonder-strike at Southport, though this was superbly blocked and the corner fizzled out after a foul in the box.
Despite a late surge towards the Curzon box, the referee ended proceedings and the visitors completed a superb smash and grab as the Blues end the decade empty handed. New Years Day sees Southport come to the 1885 Arena as Chester look to repeat Thursday’s heroics and get back on track – be there.
CHESTER: Griffiths, Morgan, Taylor, G. Roberts, Jones (K. Roberts 68), Grand, Ngwatala (Dudley 72), Glendon (Waters 61), Asante, Waring, Stopforth.
SUBS NOT USED: Hughes, Elliott.
Match Report by Alex Bullions.