CHESTER kicked-off 2008 by losing at home to a spirited but limited Grimsby side.
Not even the arrival of loan star John Welsh – a midfielder borrowed for a month from Hull City – could inspire the Blues as they slumped to a third straight League Two defeat.
Welsh lined up in a youthful Chester XI that featured four teenagers and 21-year-old striker Chris Holroyd, who was once again asked to deputise for the injured John Murphy.
In a game of few chances, Paul McManus squandered City’s best first-half opening. Racing clean through on goal following a mix-up between Grimsby defenders Tom Newey and Sam Hird on 42 minutes, the 17-year-old dragged his shot wide of Phil Barnes’ goal.
Danny Boshell headed over a glorious chance for the Mariners after the break but he was given an opportunity to make amends soon after when sub Danny North was tripped on the edge of the six-yard box by Chester keeper John Danby.
Referee Karl Evans pointed straight to the spot and Boshell made no mistake with his 65th-minute penalty, driving it into the corner of the net.
The introduction of sub Simon Yeo belatedly sparked City into life and the veteran striker had a couple of chances – heading over the bar following a Richie Partridge corner and testing Barnes with a low 20-yard drive soon after.
Grimsby, however, sealed the three points with a goal six minutes from full time. Newey whipped in a free-kick from the right flank and Robert Atkinson was on hand to glance home a header from six yards, making it an unhappy start to 2008 for the Blues.
Chester: Danby, Vaughan, Butler, Linwood, Newton, Partridge, Welsh, Roberts, Ellison, Holroyd (Yeo 70), McManus (Hughes 74). Subs: Ward, Marples, Rutherford.
Booked: Welsh, Danby, Butler.
Grimsby: Barnes, Bennett, Atkinson, Newey, Hird, Bolland, Hunt, Boshell, Hegarty (Fenton 65), Butler (North 56), Jones. Subs: Till, Montgomery, Taylor.
Goals: Boshell 65 pen, Atkinson 84.
Referee: Karl Evans (Greater Manchester).