CHESTER'S smallest home crowd for nearly three years missed a totally forgettable performance by the home side that extended their goalless streak to five matches.

The recent run that has gleaned just two points from the 15 on offer is extremely worrying and has pulled City into the relegation dogfight in Coca-Cola League Two.

Last night the performance is best summed up in one word, shambolic.

At times it was passionless, and more concerning was the fact that it was also shapeless. Rarely did City threaten the visitors' goal,, and as such visiting keeper Shane Higgs was virtually unemployed for the much of the 90 minutes.

Cheltenham took the lead after 14 minutes, thanks to defencesive slackness by the home side.

Former Hereford United striker Guinan found oceans of space on the left, he crossed to the far post where Brian Wilson surfed in to score a simple goal.

City made two changes at the start of the second period, bringing on Sean Hessey and new signing Taiwo Atieno for Vaughan and Hillier. However, the changes failed to inject any life into the performance.

Eleven minutes into the period a comedy of errors gifted Cheltenham their second goal. Mackenzie cleared the ball upfield he only reached Guinan 20 yards out, he shot goal-wards and saw his effort hit the post, as the statuesque Chester defence stood admiringly Steven Gillespie moved smartly in to side-foot the ball into the empty net.

Substitute Damien Spencer should have increased the lead after 88 minutes, but he headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

The Gloucestershire side were awarded a penalty a minute into added time, when Dave Bayliss was adjudged to have handled in the area. Gillespie stepped up and scored his second and his side's third, sending Mackenzie the wrong way. Worse was to come for Chester a minute later, when Bayliss became the seventh Chester player to be dismissed this season, he received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.

City now have two crucial games in the next 10 days, with Rushden and Diamonds visiting on Saturday, and then a trip to second-from-bottom Kidderminster Harriers.

CHESTER CITY: Mackenzie, Elokobi, Davies, Bolland, Bayliss, Drummond, Vaughan (Hessey 46), Hillier (Atieno 46), Branch, O'Neill, Harris (Walsh 61). Subs: Brown, Hope. REFEREE: Mr Eddie Evans (Manchester). ATT: 1,643.