THE Blues paid the price for a lacklustre first half performance this afternoon as Port Vale pocketed all three points at the Deva.
An early strike from Marc Richards set the visitors on their way and they doubled their lead through sub Simon Richman with 12 minutes to go.
Ryan Lowe halved the deficit late on but City were unable to get back on level terms.
Chester boss Simon Davies handed Eddie Johnson his debut and drafted in Glenn Rule at full-back to cover for the suspended James Vaughan. But the hosts found themselves a goal down after only 11 minutes when Richards was allowed too much time and space in the area to fire a well-hit shot past John Danby.
City, who were forced into a defensive reshuffle on 35 minutes when Shaun Kelly went off with a back injury, only really got going as half-time was beckoning.
Lowe saw a deflected shot cleared off the line by Sam Stockley and then fizzed a 20-yarder just past the post moments later.
Chester’s players were sent out for the second half early by Davies, who had clearly had plenty of harsh words to say to his team at the interval.
The Blues should have drawn level just 20 seconds into the second period when Lowe’s shot bounced back off the post and fell invitingly for Johnson. However, the former Bradford City forward was unable to mark his debut with a goal and he sent his shot high over the bar from a dozen yards.
Johnson forced Vale keeper Joe Anyon into a good low save on 57 minutes with a drive from the edge of the box that looked to be creeping into the bottom corner. Lowe tucked the rebound into the net – but was flagged offside.
Chester were much improved in the second half but Vale doubled their lead with a goal against the run of play on 78 minutes. Richman scored i blasted home from close range after Luke Rodgers had seen his shot kept out by Kevin Roberts’ goal-line clearance.
Chester refused to lie down and Lowe handed them a lifeline on 85 minutes. The goal owed much to the creativity and guile of Paul Taylor, who was included in the squad despite being disciplined by City for last Saturday’s no-show at Chesterfield.
Taylor, on as a sub for Anthony Barry, beat three or four players before slipping a pass to Lowe, whose low shot from the edge of the area found the bottom corner.
Chester, however, were unable to find a second goal in the time remaining and they have now gone six games without a win.
Chester: Danby, Roberts, Linwood, Kelly (S Vaughan 35), Rule, Barry (Taylor 72), Hughes, Mozika, Lowe, Johnson (McManus 80), Ellison. Subs: Harris, Rutherford. Booked: Vaughan, Hughes, Roberts. Goal: Lowe 85.
Port Vale: Anyon, Stockley, Edwards (Richman 57), Prosser, McCrory, McCombe, Griffiths, Howland (Rogers 72), Richards, Dodds, Davidson. Subs: Martin, Glover, Lawrie. Booked: Richards. Goals: Richards 11, Richman 78.
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Stockport).
Attendance: 3,102 (1,526 away).