Chester’s eight game unbeaten streak came to an end at home to in-form Darlington.
The only goal of the game came just after the hour and with a huge slice of fortune as Lewis Coulton’s challenge rebounded off Kaine Felix’s shin and looped into the net just past the hour mark.
Blues’ boss Calum McIntyre made two changes from the side victorious in the FA Cup replay at Hanley Town during the week, as Declan Weeks and Kole Hall both moved into the starting line-up, at the expense of Iwan Murray and Joe Lynch.
Chester created the opening chance of the game as Coulton’s low cross found the run of Kurt Willoughby, but he couldn’t direct it goalwards and the ball deflected off a Darlington defender before being cleared.
The hosts followed this up with a superb ball from Weeks to set Jamie Morgan in behind, though his cut-back was defended well by Jake Lawlor.
Chances were limited in the opening half and Darlington forced the first save of the afternoon from Harry Tyrer ten minutes before the break as Jassem Sukar’s shot from range was pushed away by the Blues’ stopper.
The visitors were growing into the game as dangerous forward Mark Beck curled an effort wide of the mark.
Chester responded well though as Weeks skipped by a couple of defenders to get to the byline before cutting it back, deflecting off a defender and being cleared off the line. Stephenson moments later saw his shot deflected wide.
The second half started in a similar fashion, with Coulton and Devine linking well to play it to Weeks but he fired over the crossbar.
Darlington took the lead just after the hour with a stroke of fortune as Coulton’s sliding challenge appeared to ricochet awkwardly off Felix and flew into the top corner, with Tyrer stranded.
Willoughby almost found an equaliser as Morgan played him in but Dan Dodds made an outstanding challenge to take the ball off the Blues’ number nine’s boot as he was set to pull the trigger.
Full-back Dodds then almost made the difference at the other end as Darlington moved the ball well before playing in the full-back, but his drilled effort was inches wide of the post.
Another good chance came and went for the Blues as Kevin Roberts got on the end of a Joe Lynch corner, but his close-range effort was too close to Tommy Taylor in the Darlington goal with appeals for a penalty waved away.
Moments later and Willoughby controlled it for Dudley but his swerving effort was again too close to Taylor to cause the visitors ‘keeper any problems.
Chester continued to look for a way through and had a chance in the five additional minutes played as Murray showed quick feet to get away from two before firing wide but in the end Darlington did enough to hold on and claim all three points.
CHESTER: Tyrer, Morgan, Burke, Kenyon, Coulton, Weeks (Lynch 70), Roberts, Devine, Stephenson (Murray 82), Willoughby, Hall (Dudley 74).
SUBS NOT USED: Williams, Coates.
SCORERS: Felix 62.