CITY are now all but certain to be playing non-league football next season after they failed to get the win they needed at the Recreation Ground this afternoon.

After Ryan Lowes early opener was cancelled out by Kirk Hudsons brace, Lloyd Ellams equalised to set up a grandstand finish.

But that was as good as it got for Mark Wrights men and only a freak set of final-day results will see them escape the dreaded drop out of the Football League. And that is simply not going to happen.


Blues boss Wright, having taken the step of taking the pre-match warm-up himself, sprung a shock by choosing one of the biggest games in the clubs history to hand rookie striker Ellams the first start of his senior career.

The 18-year-old, in for the crocked Kevin Ellison, was the only change to the side that lost 2-0 at home to relegation rivals Bournemouth seven days earlier.

And it took less than 30 seconds for Ellams to justify his shock selection by winning a first-minute penalty.

After Lowe had latched on to an under-hit Rob Elvins back-header and shot straight at Nikki Bull, Ellams was ready to snap up the rebound until he was brought down in the box by Ricky Newman.

Lowe, having scored from the spot in the Easter Monday victory at Accrington Stanley, stepped up confidently only to see his right-footed strike palmed out by Bull.

Top-scorer Lowe was on hand, however, to tap in at the second attempt for his 18th goal of the campaign.

With injury-ravaged Aldershot fielding a makeshift defence made up of midfielders and forwards, there seemed every chance Chester could build on their dream start.

But they were pegged back in the 14th minute when the pacy Hudson raced on to John Grants through pass and cooly lobbed the ball over the advancing James Spencer.

In what was fast becoming a totally open contest, Hudson then forced Spencer into a low stop before Lowe passed up a golden opportunity at the other end.

Having fired just wide from an acute angle, Lowe again found himself one-on-one with Bull. But again the Shots goalkeeper got the better of Lowe as he snatched the ball off his feet as he attempted to round him.

And City were nearly made to pay the price by Jake Robinson. Firstly, he cut inside on to his right foot and let fly with a curling effort that Spencer did well to turn away for a corner, before the same player was denied by Shaun Kellys last-gasp tackle.

The final chance of a breathless first half fell to the visitors, however, as Ellams took his time before curling inches wide from the edge of the area.

Just 45 minutes from slipping back into the non-league wilderness, Wright was forced into a change moments after the restart when Paul Linwood, having limped off at the end of the opening period, was replaced by Glenn Rule.

The loss of their captain rocked the Blues and, after Hudson and Robinson stung Spencers hands, they fell behind in the 56th minute to an absolutely stunner.

Hudson controlled a lofted Scott Davies pass on his chest before letting fly with an unstoppable first-time strike from just inside the box that beat Spencer all ends up.

And Hudson would have completed his hat-trick two minutes later had the increasingly-overworked Spencer not got down to deny him.

Chester were beginning to resemble a team that had accepted their fate, but then they equalised in the 63rd minute in the most bizarre of fashions.

Ellams, substitute Richie Partridge and Lowe all failed to put a finishing touch to a goalmouth scramble, but with Bull lying prone on the ground after a collision, Ellams had the simple task of stroking the ball into the empty net for his first goal for the club.

Referee Phil Gibbs allowed the goal to stand and then signalled for Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz to replace the stricken Bull.

And the substitute stopper was straight into the action, saving at his near post from Partridge, who chose to shoot even though he had team-mates better placed.

But Partridge was to make a worse error deep into injury-time, heading straight at Jaimez-Ruiz when it seemed easier to score.

And with that went Citys hopes of survival.

ALDERSHOT: Bull (Jaimez-Ruiz 67), Soares, Elvins, Newman, Donnelly (Hytlon 67), Hudson, Davies, Cochrane, Sandell, Grant, Robinson. Subs: Straker, Hutchings, Connolly.

BOOKED: Hytlon.

GOALS: Hudson 14, 56.

CHESTER: Spencer, Vaughan, Linwood (Rule 47), Roberts, Kelly, Wilson, Owen, Harris, Barry (Partridge 63), Lowe, Ellams (Jones 86). Subs: Platt, Rutherford.

GOALS: Lowe 2, Ellams 63.

REFEREE: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands).

ATTENDANCE: 3,100 (226 away).