CHESTER CITY'S proud 18-match unbeaten league run came to an end on Saturday when they lost to an impressive and well-organised Stevenage Borough side at the Deva Stadium.

City boss Mark Wright was brutally honest at the end of the game when he said: "I thought in the first half we didn't get out of bed - they outbattled us, unfortunately.

"Let's give credit to them, they battled well. We need to impose ourselves and take games to teams. Unfortunately, we didn't do that against Stevenage."

Few would argue with the Chester City manager. Without doubt, the Southerners were the best side that has visited the Deva Stadium this season and if they maintain the progress they have shown in recent weeks, they will certainly be in the promotion shake-up at the end of the season.

On the positive side, Chester must not forget that they have lost only one game in 19 and established a post-war record for the club. Now the most important thing is how they react to last Saturday's setback.

Seven days earlier, the side had turned in a superlative performance against Halifax Town so the weekend blip must be viewed simply as that, a blip.

The match started at a frenetic pace. A delightful run from midfield by City's Alex Smith saw him involve Rapley before Daryl Clare brought out a full-length save from the former Sunderland keeper, Lionel Perez.

Baptiste was unfortunate for the visitors when a curling 20-yard effort rattled the City bar and Elding and Holloway both had shots that went narrowly wide.

Rapley had a good chance to put City in the lead following a pinpoint cross from Guyatt; however the striker failed to connect with the ball and the chance went begging.

Stevenage took the lead after 37 minutes through their leading scorer Elding. A cross from the right by Maamria was deflected over Brown, and Elding had a simple job to head home from close range.

The visitors doubled their advantage after 75 minutes when a defensive mix-up allowed Baptiste time and space to nip in and score from 10 yards.

Chester piled forward towards the end of the game and substitute Michael Twiss gave them a glimmer of hope two minutes into injury time. Stamp was the orchestrator, setting Twiss free, and his angled effort beat Perez all ends up.

In the fifth minute of injury time, City thought they had equalised but Perez thwarted Stamp's header.

Chester still lead the Nationwide Conference table by four points from Hereford United, who lost at home themselves on Saturday to lowly Tamworth.

City's opponents next weekend are Tamworth, which could prove to be an interesting afternoon.

CHESTER CITY: Brown, Collins, Bolland, Guyatt (Twiss 66 mins), McIntyre, Smith, Davies, Carey, Ruffer, Rapley (Stamp 66 mins), Clare. Subs: Heard, Carden, Foster

STEVENAGE BOROUGH: Perez, Warner, Bunce, Laker, Gould, Wormull, Watson, Holloway, Elding (Cook 90 mins), Maamria (Smith 77 mins), Baptiste. Subs: Shamlian, Richards, Brennan.

REFEREE: Colin Harwood, Manchester.