CHESTER fell to their second defeat of the pre-season campaign as Matthew Kennedy's late strike gave Kilmarnock a narrow win at the Exacta Stadium.
The Scottish League Cup winners provided a stern test for Neil Young’s men, who hit the woodwork twice during a bright first half display.
But full-timers Kilmarnock gradually grew into the game and Kennedy’s neat finish from 20 yards gave them the edge.
The hosts had got off to a lively start, Nathan Jarman firing over from long range after just two minutes before Dom Collins headed wide from a Dave Hankin corner soon after.
Hankin was the provider again on seven minutes, crossing from the right for Matty McGinn, whose meaty volley crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.
Kilmarnock struggled to find a way through the Chester defence in the first half. Their best opening fell to Danny Racchi, who slid a shot just past John Danby’s post from Kennedy’s left-wing cross.
Having been denied once by the woodwork, McGinn met his match in Killy keeper Annsi Kaakkola when the Finland international dived to his left to claw away a curling shot from the Chester left-back.
Just before the break, Marc Williams passed up a couple of gilt-edged chances to open the scoring for Chester. Jarman seized possession on the right and rolled an inch-perfect pass across goal for Williams, whose first-time effort rebounded off the post. The loose ball fell to Williams but the striker’s follow-up shot was blocked.
The second half was punctuated by a raft of substitutions as Blues boss Young took the opportunity to run the rule over every player in his squad.
Kilmarnock probably had the upper hand in terms of possession and chances, but the hosts were far from disgraced against their full-time opponents.
Rory Boulding drew a sharp save from John Danby after 49 minutes before an aggressive challenge by Liam Kelly on Chester winger Sean Clancy sparked a melee involving all 20 outfield players.
Once order had been restored, Kelly was booked.
Kelly shot over the bar on 66 minutes before the breakthrough Kilmarnock had been searching for arrived 16 minutes from time. Kennedy took advantage of a mistake by sub Michael Taylor and ran towards goal before beating Danby with a precise low shot on his left foot for 1-0.
Chester: Danby, Collins (Baynes 63), McGinn (Howard 63), Horan (Taylor 63), Linwood, A Williams (Mackin 57), Clancy (Ting 86), Sarcevic (Moyo 72), Jarman (Booth 54), M Williams (Powell 46), Hankin (M Williams 72).