Chester FC manager Steve Burr was ‘bitterly disappointed’ after the club’s ambitions of another FA Cup journey to remember vanished with barely a whimper in a 1-0 defeat at Altrincham.
Burr’s side served up yet another dismal performance and the 2014-15 season is fast becoming one to forget for supporters, who turned out in force once more at Moss Lane.
Damian Reeves, who has now scored four goals in five appearances against the Blues, poked home the winner in the 52nd minute after Jon Worsnop had saved James Lawrie’s free-kick.
Altrincham keeper Tim Deasy twice saved well from Ross Hannah and denied substitute Tom Peers, but in truth the visitors did not ever do enough to deserve a place in the first round.
Burr said afterwards: "Obviously I’m bitterly disappointed to be out of the FA Cup. I thought we started the game bright enough but in the end it was Altrincham’s day.
"When you’re chasing like we were, we were trying to push men forward but we couldn’t get ourselves back in the game. Deasy’s made a couple of good saves but apart from that really they were very hard to break down.
"Our performance was flat again and that’s something we’ve got to address. The way we started the game, we started really bright and we’d done a lot of preparation this week leading up to the game as we do for all games, but then we started to give the ball away and our passing went.
"And then with one or two you can see their heads go and they clam up a little bit where they perhaps don’t want the ball or if they have it they give it away cheaply.
"Again it would be very hard to pick out anybody who stood out for us. I thought our captain Ian Sharps did well. I’ve always said we need 11 players to be at it and we had too many who were just not quite at it."
There were appeals for offside after Reeves had opened the scoring but Burr did not want to use that as an excuse for his side’s exit from the competition.
He said: "It is onside because that’s the result but Ian Sharps was adamant the lad was offside when he put it in. Jon’s made a good save and Sharpy reckoned the lad was in an offside position but it’s a goal isn’t it and we’re out of the FA Cup.
"I’m bitterly disappointed we’re not going to hit the highs we did last year because we had a tremendous run."
There was further controversy on 67 minutes when Worsnop pushed the ball out from Simon Richman’s feet but referee Richard Wigglesworth ruled it a foul and pointed to the spot before changing his mind following input from his assistant.
It was the correct decision to reverse the penalty but even that lifeline failed to spark the visitors into life and the Robins were deserving winners on the balance of possession and chances with George Bowerman wasting two excellent scoring opportunities.