HOW Chester managed to produce a victory following the most inept first-half performance of the campaign on Monday will remain the biggest mystery of the season.

Following their creditable goalless draw at Mansfield last Friday, City must have gone into the game against Graham Barrow's Bury with some confidence.

But while the visitors shot off the blocks like Olympic sprinters, Chester barely failed to turn up and Bury goal-keeper Glyn Garner was little more than a spectator as his team-mates totally dictated the play without scoring the goals to justify their dominance.

It would have been easy for the home fans to turn on the management team and the players, so ineffective was the first-half dis-play, but they showed admirable patience and were rewarded with two second-half goals which proved enough to win as Bury faded.

Chester didn't show as an attacking force before the break and it was no surprise when the visitors broke the deadlock after only 12 minutes with a goal Chris Mackenzie will want to forget.

He had pulled off a save earlier from a blistering drive from goalscorer Colin Kazim-Richards, but the shot which produced the goal was little more than a gentle lob from 35 yards following a poor clearance from the goalkeeper.

The clash of heads between Michael Branch and Brian Barry-Murphy at the start of the second half looked like being a knockout blow for City, but both players courageously played on, Barry-Murphy without a piece of his ear which had been inexplicably torn away in the collision.

There was little at the start of the half to suggest Chester could claw their way back, but it all changed on the hour when Ryan Lowe celebrated his home debut with a shot which flew past Garner, who seemed to slip at the crucial moment.

The confidence which had oozed from Bury in the first half seemed to evaporate with this unexpected setback, but it was still a surprise when City took the lead through Lowe following a long throw by Andy Nicholas and headed on by a more celebrated long-throw exponent, Chester-born Dave Challinor.

Seeing what looked like a certain victory being snatched away, Bury pulled themselves up by their bootlaces and Mackenzie was fortunate to get away with a miskick from a Challoner throw-in in added time.

Chester may play a lot better than this and lose and Bury may play a lot worse and win, but for City the result was more important than the performance.