CHESTER CITY'S alarming slide, which has now seen them lose 13 of their last 15 Coca Cola League Two matches, continued on Saturday when they narrowly lost 1-0 to a physical Darlington outfit.
City were desperately unlucky not to get at least a share of the spoils. The visitors dominated proceedings after Darlington had been reduced to 10 men, Clark Keltie being dismissed following a cowardly off-the-ball elbow aimed at the head of City's Ryan Lowe.
Chester manager Mark Wright is beginning to get the best from his squad but the need for an attacking wing back and a mobile striker is plain for all to see.
"We've not really got any wingers or width," said Wright.. "We know that and it stood out again, when you've got width in the side it hurts people.
"We've got to try and look this week to bring a couple of people in, because I think it's important to what we want as a football club. Other than that I didn't see a lot wrong."
If quality newcomers aren't forthcoming, then Nationwide Conference football will become an unpalatable reality.
Saturday's defeat at the Darlington Arena and results elsewhere meant Chester are just one point above the relegation placings, and with difficult games against Cheltenham Town and Wrexham coming up, the side is in desperate need of a couple of confidence boosting results.
Chester were without club captain Michael Branch on Saturday following the incident with the club management on Friday. Wright refused to discuss the matter following the game, stating: "We will talk about the situation internally early next week, and comment publicly when the matter has been reviewed."
The first half was a rather sterile affair not helped by Arctic conditions, and a pudding of a pitch which would have been better suited to rice growing.
Paul Harrison made good saves in the first half to deny Cooke and Johnson while at the other end Russell produced a stunning save to deny Ben Davies 20-yard thunder bolt.
Following the dismissal of Keltie, Darlington could easily have been reduced to nine men when Valentine, who had already been booked, committed a dreadful tackle on Davies. But Mr Boyeson merely gave the errant player a lengthy lecture.
The only goal came after 75 minutes, Shelton Martis heading home a Wainwright corner which squirmed under the foot of McNiven.
City piled forward but Lowe, Blundell and substitute El Kholti all fired wide of the mark when efforts on target may well have garnered better results.
DARLINGTON: Russell, Stockdale, Clarke, Martis, Valentine, Webster (S Johnson 84), Keltie, Peacock (Wainwright 59), Dickman, Cooke (Sodje 76), J Johnson. Subs: Norton, Kendrick.
CHESTER CITY: Harrison, McNiven, Albrighton, Ellender, Hessey (El Kholti 78), Regan (Tait 70), Drummond, Curtis, Davies, Lowe, Blundell. Subs: Artell, Richardson, S Vaughan.
REF: Mr Carl Boyeson (Hull).