“WHAT a load of rubbish” was the chant of choice on the Victoria Road terrace as the Blues subjected their fans to a opening-day horror show.
In the four years since Chester won promotion back to the Football League, it is hard to recall a performance worse than Saturday’s shambolic showing.
Dagenham – tipped to struggle this season – netted six and could have had many more, such was their stranglehold on this one-sided contest.
Chester failed to get to grips with their opponents’ physical, route-one approach and, worryingly, the players looked uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the 4-3-3 system boss Simon Davies has put his faith in.
The team looked disjointed, dispirited and disinterested – just like they had been last season when a 6-2 defeat at Dagenham proved to be one of the final nails in Bobby Williamson’s managerial coffin.
City’s preparations on Saturday were not helped when skipper Paul Linwood – named in the starting line-up despite carrying a back injury – broke down in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Kevin Roberts.
Against the barrage of long balls launched by the Daggers, Linwood’s height and heading ability would have been utilised to the full. But without him, City lost the physical battle and the hosts found themselves a goal up after only 16 minutes.
Jay Harris was harshly punished for a foul on Solomon Taiwo and winger Dominic Green curled the resulting free-kick into the top corner of John Danby’s goal from 25 yards.
Less than a minute later, City’s Ryan Lowe slammed a shot onto the crossbar but it was mostly one-way traffic and the Daggers grabbed their second of the afternoon from the penalty spot shortly before the break.
Roberts, who endured a torrid time at centre-back, clearly tripped Paul Benson as he charged into the area and strike partner Ben Strevens coolly converted the resulting spot-kick on 42 minutes.
There was little improvement from the Blues after the break and Dagenham forged into a 3-0 lead with a freak goal on 55 minutes.
An in-swinging free-kick from wide on the left from Sam Saunders somehow avoided everyone in the box and bounced beyond the despairing dive of Danby.
Goal number four arrived on the hour mark and just about summed up City’s day.
Paul Butler’s quick throw-in was left altogether by Roberts, taking Danby by surprise. The Chester keeper – unable to pick the ball up – hurried his clearance and it fell straight to Saunders on the edge of the box, allowing the Dagenham winger to smash the ball into tan unguarded net from 20 yards.
Davies threw on subs David Mannix and, later, Paul Taylor in a bid to stem the flow of goals, but they just kept on coming.
Benson charged into the box and beat Danby with a deflected shot 11 minutes from time before sub Mark Nwokeji hooked in goal number six to cap a miserable afternoon for Chester.
One game down, 45 to go. And if the Blues are to keep themselves clear of relegation danger this season, they need to make major, major improvements.
Dag & Red: Roberts, Okuonghae, Uddin, Arber, Griffiths, Saunders, Taiwo, Gain, Green (Southam 89), Strevens (Nurse 84), Benson (Nwokeji 85). Subs: Thompson, Alaile.
Goals: Green 16, Strevens 42 pen, Saunders 55, 60, Benson 79, Nwokeji 88.
Chester: Danby, J Vaughan, Butler, Roberts, Wilson, Partridge (Taylor 78), Barry, Harris (Mannix 57), Mozika, Lowe, Ellison. Subs: Dinning, S Vaughan, Kelly.
Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).