Having battled back to from two goals down to level in injury time, Chester FC left the North East empty handed after a conceding a 93rd minute winner at Gateshead.
An Andy Halls own goal and one from Richard Peniket had given the home side a 2-0 lead with 17 minutes remaining before Ross Hannah pulled one back and teenager Matty Waters stepped off the bench to level with a superb leveller in injury time only for another own goal to creep over the line at the death from a corner to break Chester hearts.
Having seen his side put in a much-improved display in the 1-1 draw at home to Ebbsfleet United, caretaker boss Tom Shaw took his charges to the North East in search of a morale-boosting three points to kick start their National League campaign.
And he named one change in the side to the one that drew with Ebbsfleet with Craig Mahon coming into the side in place of Nyal Bell who was ruled out due to the conditions of his loan spell from Gateshead. But it was a momentous occasion for Mahon who was making his 160th appearance for Chester in all competitions, eclipsing that of George Horan.
The rain teemed down at the International Stadium as kick off approached making the playing surface tough to contend with.
But Chester coped well in the opening 10 minutes, taking the game to the home side and seeing plenty of the ball, with Paul Turnbull firing over from 25 yards before Ross Hannah glanced a header from a Lathaniel Rowe-Turner cross at Dan Hanford.
But Gateshead started to assert themselves on the game and JJ O’Donnell almost found Richard Peniket sliding in on 12 minutes before Danny Johnson turned and fired just wide from 20 yards minutes later.
And Neill Byrne saw his 12 yard header drop wide after he connected with a dangerous O’Donnell free kick from the right.
At the other end Hannah saw his well-struck free kick from 20 yards pushed away to safety by Hanford after James Akintunde had done superbly well to draw the foul.
Chester were dealt a blow just before the half-hour mark when Turnbull pulled up with an injury and was forced to withdraw from proceedings, replaced by Lucas Dawson who saw yellow less than a minute after coming on following a late challenge on Callum Williams.
Paddy McLaughlin saw a low 20-yarder tipped round the post by Conor Mitchell as Gateshead began to press, and they had the breakthrough moments later.
A corner was whipped in and cleared before Luke Hannant recycled the ball back into the area with the ball finding its way past Mitchell via the Chester head of Halls.
It was rough on the Blues who had shown enough to head into the changing on level terms.
But the Chester left themselves with a mountain to climb just 60 seconds after the restart as Gateshead doubled their advantage.
A Halls mistake allowed Johnson to race clear down the right hand side and he advanced into the area before cutting back to Peniket who touched home from close range.
The goal looked to have knocked the stuffing out of the Blues as they struggled to muster a response to the Heed’s second while the home side looked were looking comfortable.
Shaw brought on Harry White for Akintunde after his injury lay off as Chester chased the game, although a curled effort from Dawson after a deflection off referee Simeon Lucas was as close as the Blues came in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
Chester did force Hanford into a rare save on 71 minutes when Halls found room to let off a shot from 18 yards, with the Heed keeper pushing the effort away and Mahon’s cut back stabbed to safety by the home side.
But, out of nowhere, Chester found a lifeline.
White’s speculative effort from the right caught Hanford off guard and had him scrambling, pawing the ball off the crossbar into the path Hannah who had the simplest of tasks in nodding home from just yards out.
It gave Chester a sniff of a way back, although the dangerous Johnson almost fired back immediately when he broke clear on the left before thumping an angled 18-yard effort into the side netting.
It looked like Chester were heading for defeat until White combined with Waters on the edge of the box and the teenage substitute curled a fine effort beyond Hanford before reeling away in delight.
But any joy was short-lived as Gateshead immediately won a corner that was put into the mixer and nodded goalwards with the ball going in off Mitchell, creeping into the net for another own goal.
It was a kick in the teeth for a Chester side who showed plenty of steel to fight back when all hope looked lost.
Gateshead: Hanford, Vassell, Byrne, Fyfield, Williams, O’Donnell (Tinkler 78), Hannant (Langstaff 73), Penn, McLaughlin, Johnson (York 85), Peniket. Subs not used: Macleod, Burrow.
Goals: Halls (OG) 41, Peniket 47, Mitchell (OG) 90+3.
Chester FC: Mitchell, Rowe-Turner, Halls, McCombe, Sheron, Mahon, Turnbull (Dawson 28), James, Joyce (Waters 73), Hannah, Akintunde (White 59). Subs not used: Lynch, Davies.
Bookings: Dawson, Hannah, Rowe-Turner.
Goals: Hannah 73, Waters 90+1
Attendance: 567 (65 from Chester).
Referee: Simeon Lucas.
Star man: Harry White.