CHESTER CITY'S search for an away day victory continued last night after defeat at the hands of high-flying Southend United.
An 88th-minute goal from Shrimpers' substitute Lawrie Dudfield made it four League Two games on the road since the Blues picked up all three points.
That came on October 16 with a 1-0 win over lowly Rushden & Diamonds, followed by a defeat and two draws.
The first chance of a largely uneventful first half fell to City when Cortez Belle's right wing cross was met by Michael Branch, but he was offside.
Southend responded with a Freddy Eastwood shot that went wide before Mark Gower nearly put the hosts ahead.
The left winger evaded the Chester defence but saw his powerful drive cannon off the right upright.
The Shrimpers continued the pressure with Mark Bentley firing wide and a Kevin Maher shot being deflected to safety.
But City weathered the storm and began to exert some pressure.
Former Southend player Andy Harris's cross found Belle unmarked, but his looping header was easily held by keeper Bart Griemink after 21 minutes.
Ben Davies's low shot seven minutes later forced a diving save from Griemink after a Chester break found four players well placed.
At the other end of the field Chester keeper Wayne Brown had to be at his best to deny Gower and Wayne Gray when they were in dangerous positions.
Chester finished the half on a high but were unable to break the deadlock.
Southend created the first chance after the break when a long clearance put Gray clear, but his cross from the byline was intercepted by Ian Hillier as Eastwood raced into the box.
Chester were growing in confidence now as the disjointed Shrimpers' attacks broke down.
City substitute Rob Booth provided two moments of danger as the visitors pushed for a goal.
First his cross from the right after 54 minutes was knocked into Davies's half by Lewis Hunt but the midfielder headed wide.
Then two minutes later Booth found himself in space but his 25 yard shot went over Griemink's bar.
Gower then saw his 30 yard effort go wide before a good Stuart Drummond run set up Davies, whose attempt was blocked by Griemink.
Southend picked up their performance and forced a number of corners which Brown easily gathered.
Substitute Tes Bramble came on for Gower and wasted two chances before fellow Southend sub Dud-field struck.
A ball in from the left was chested into the striker's path and he finished from close range.
SOUTHEND: Griemink, Hunt, Prior, Barrett, Wilson, Pettefer, Bentley, Maher, Gower, Gray, Eastwood. Subs: Nicolau, Edwards, Jupp, Dudfield, Bramble.
CHESTER: Brown, Harris, Bolland, Bayliss, Hillier, Drummond, Carden, Davies, Hessey, Belle, Branch. Subs: MacKenzie, Vaughan, McIntyre, Booth, Rapley.
Bookings: Bentley (Southend), Harris, Carden (Chester City)
Referee: P Prosser (W Yorkshire)