It would be easy to make excuses for this, whether it be two games in 48 hours or a lack of fit strikers available, but the truth is that this just wasn’t good enough.
A goal either side of the break for Macclesfield Town ensured a 2-0 success over a Chester FC side who were lacklustre throughout and lacked imagination.
Mitch Hancox headed Macc into an eighth-minute lead and Kieran Kennedy slammed home an Elliott Durrell corner on 63 minutes to settle a turgid affair at the Swansway Chester Stadium.
Macclesfield barely rose above ordinary but they didn’t have to as Chester laboured throughout, the winless run at home extending to 14 games. Not good enough.
The Blues came into the contest buoyed by a superb win at high-flying Aldershot Town on Saturday where they fought back from a goal down at the break to snatch what had seemed at one stage to be the unlikeliest of wins.
But manager Jon McCarthy was facing an injury crisis with James Akintunde struggling with a hamstring injury that saw him have to settle for a place on the bench and fellow forwards Nyal Bell, Ross Hannah and Harry White all out injured.
That saw McCarthy start with the team that finished at Aldershot and starts were handed to Jordan Chapell and Wade Joyce, pivotal in Saturday’s success, while Alex Lynch came in for his first appearance of the season in between the sticks with Conor Mitchell away with the Northern Ireland under-21 side.
Macclesfield included former Chester midfielder Elliott Durrell in their side, although there was no place in the squad for another former Blue, Ryan Lloyd.
After a quiet opening five minutes it was the visitors who grabbed the lead on eight minutes with their first effort of the game.
A quick break from midfield saw Tyrone Marsh pick up the ball on the right-hand side and deliver a perfectly weighted cross into the box for Hancox who glanced a powerful effort beyond Lynch and into the Chester keeper’s bottom right-hand corner.
The early setback didn’t spark an immediate reaction from the Blues and the lack of a recognised striker on the pitch was telling as any foray into the final third was easily snuffed out and a 30 yard Craig Mahon effort that flew high and wide of Shwan Jalal’s goal was as close as Chester came in the opening half hour.
But the Silkmen didn’t look like doubling their advantage, although former Wrexham trialist Gime Toure saw his header from 10 yards from Adam Yates’ right-wing cross flash well over when well placed.
The lack of quality was something that would pervade right through until the half-time whistle with the home congregation growing understandably frustrated at their side’s inability to play expansive football and ask questions of a fairly pedestrian Macclesfield side in the first 45 minutes.
Chester ended the half without forcing a single save out of Jalal, although the same could be said of Macclesfield whose early goal was their only shot on target.
The Blues did muster an effort just after the restart when Mahon picked up the ball in space 30 yards from goal and found Dawson in the box but his angled effort from 12 yards flashed low and wide.
Former Macclesfield man Kingsley James forced Jalal into his first save of the match on 53 minutes when he did well after picking the ball up on the left and drove forward before unleashing an 18-yard effort that was beaten away by the Silkmen stopper.
Chester were trying to fashion a response and Dawson should have done better when he nodded a superb Joyce cross wide at the far post when he had more time than he thought.
And that profligacy was punished by the visitors on 63 minutes when Kennedy was on hand to slam home a Durrell corner from eight yards to double the Silkmen's advantage with their second shot on target.
In an act of desperation McCarthy threw on Matty Waters and Akintunde, with Waters playing left-back, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner centre-back and Ryan Astles moving up front to partner Akintunde.
But it didn’t create a response from Chester, who looked sluggish and disjointed throughout what was a pretty turgid game of football.
Macclesfield looked comfortable while Chester looked spent.
And the Silkmen almost grabbed a third with 15 minutes left when the evergreen Danny Whitaker’s fine cross was headed powerfully towards goal, clipping the top of the crossbar.
Chester didn’t look like getting anything and, in truth, they didn’t deserve anything.
Scott Burgess tried his luck from 18 yards after busrting through from midfield for Macc but his fierce effort flashed over.
At the other end Andy Halls’ cross from the right found James in the six-yard box with the midfielder chesting and volleying over when he should have scored. It was the tale of the afternoon for Chester.
Macclesfield saw out the game in comfort and when the final whistle did blow it was met with a chorus of boos and some chants of ‘out, out, out’ from the home terrace, a clear message directed at under-fire manager McCarthy who now faces an almighty battle to turn this tanker around.
One bright spot was the appearance of Blacon’s Tom Crawford as a late substitute. It was the only thing that came close to lifting the gloom.
Chester: Lynch, Halls, Astles, McCombe, Rowe-Turner, Mahon, Chapell (Akintunde 65), Joyce (Waters 65), James, Turnbull (Crawford 88), Dawson. Subs not used: Davies, Shaw.
Macclesfield: Jalal, Fitzpatrick, Lowe, Marsh (Wilson 78), Durrell (Baba 78), Kennedy, Hancox, Yates, Toure (Richards 78), Burgess, Whitaker. Subs: O’Brien, Arthur.
Goals: Hancox 8, Kennedy 63.
Referee: Peter Wright.
Star man: Ryan Astles - Hard to make a case for anyone but Astles showed some heart and battled well.