It's not a mathematical impossibility but Chester FC look destined for the drop.

In a game where they battled well in the first half before capitulating in the second, Chester fell to a 2-0 loss at home to play-off chasing Dover to hammer another nail into their National League coffin.

A Kevin Lokko header and a Ryan Astles own goal proved decisive for the visitors in front of a crowd of 1,182 - the lowest league crowd since the club's reformation.

It seemed like last chance saloon for Chester and it did not go to plan, not the ideal build up for Sunday's derby clash at Wrexham.

Marcus Bignot made two changes from the side that went down 3-2 at Dagenham & Redbridge 10 days previous, handing a debut to Liverpool loanee Andy Firth in goal following the departure of Sam Hornby back to Port Vale last week, and Harry White was preferred to Ross Hannah in a two-pronged attack with Jordan Archer.

The Whites came into the clash on the back of three points from a 1-0 win at home to Leyton Orient on Saturday in the only game that survived the weather in the National League. It was a win that lifted them back among the play-off places.

Dover started the game on the front foot and showed more of a willingness to win the second balls, and Adebayo Azeez should have done better when he skewed wide from 12 yards after fashioning some room in the box.

But after a slow first 15 minutes Chester began to pick up the pace and played with much more confidence, moving the ball around with purpose.

Andy Halls shot wide after a decent break down the right before Ryan Bird fired wide when well placed on 20 minutes.

Dominic Vose started to stamp his mark on the contest and was causing plenty of headaches when cutting in from the left while Jordan Archer was providing a physical presence up top and relishing going toe to toe with experienced campaigners Manny Parry and Kevin Lokko.

Vose drew a free kick on 25 minutes and Gary Roberts fired inches over from 20 yards before some dazzling footwork from Vose in the box minutes later saw him pull a top drawer save out of Dover keeper Mitch Walker.

And Archer saw a header saved down low by Walker after Matty Waters' cross was whipped in with pace.

Dover pressed at the other end in the final third but debutant Firth had little to do as Chester managed to repel the Whites advances.

The chance of the half fell to the recalled White three minutes before the break when Waters flicked on a cross in the path of the Chester striker who, eight yards out, saw his effort tipped over superbly by Walker. In truth, though, it should have been the opener.

Chester managed to withstand a flurry of corners in first half added time to head into the break level, receiving plenty of praise from the home faithful.


The second half started in much the same vein as the first as Dover pressed and Chester struggled to break out of their half.

Firth was called into action on 55 minutes as he got down well to save a Mitch Brundle snapshot from 18 yards before, at the other end, Waters broke through one on one with Walker only for his touch to evade him as the ball ran to the grateful arms of the Dover stopper.

Then Chester had bright spell as Tom Crawford fired a rocket from 20 yards that looked destined for the top corner until Walker beat it away, and White went close with a low effort from 18 yards.

But the Blues were behind on 65 minutes when some dreadfully slack marking from a corner saw defender Kevin Lokko head home from 12 yards, unmarked, to put the visitors ahead.

And it was 2-0 seven minutes later when, with Chester now switched to a back three, Dover exploited the oceans of space with Azeez breaking and firing in a low cross that was turned past Firth by the outstretched leg of Astles.

That proved that for the Blues as Dover comfortably approached the game for the final 18 minutes, rarely getting out of second gear.

Chester huffed and puffed late on but it was to be the same old story. Relegation now seems inevitable.


Chester: Firth, Halls (Mahon 82) , Hobson, Astles, Anderson (Hannah 68), Waters, Roberts, Crawford, Vose, White, Archer. Subs not used : Jaaskelainen, Jones, Akintunde.

Bookings: Roberts.


Dover Athletic: Walker, Ilesanmi, Gallifuoco, Parry, Essam, Brundle, Pinnock (Daniel 67), Bird (Jeffrey 62), Lokko, Bellamy (Passley 73), Azeez. Subs not used: Okosieme, Nortey.

Bookings: Gallifuoco, Bellamy, Brundle, Lokko, Daniel.

Goals: Lokko 65, Astles 72.

Attendance: 1,182 (17 from Dover).

Referee: Joe Hull.

Star man: Dominic Vose.