CHESTER missed the chance to move into a National League Three North play-off place on Saturday when they went down 29-15 at relegation- threatened Middlesbrough.
But the blow of defeat was softened by the news that Bradford & Bingley had lost for the third week running.
That means third-placed Chester still have the chance to finish runners-up behind newly-crowned champions Stockport.
However they are not the only team in the hunt for second spot and a shot at promotion.
Rossendale, Darlington Mowden Park and Birkenhead Park are also hot on second-placed Bradford & Bingley’s heels and it is fourth-placed Rossendale who provide the opposition this weekend when they visit Hare Lane on Saturday for what will be Chester’s final home game of the season (3pm).
Tim Doig’s team will have to play better than they did against a Middlesbrough side scraping for their lives.
Chester led 12-10 after a breathless first half – in which the hosts had a man red-carded – through touchdowns from No8 Will Bown and scrum-half Tom Chappell, whose 12th try of the season was converted by Rhys Hayes.
Hayes extended the advantage after the break with a penalty, but after prop Nathan Sandland-Jones was sent-off, the visitors fell apart and Boro were given the time space to hit back and record a vital bonus-point victory.
Chester lost Pat Coy to injury but were boosted by the return of Jonny Piggott after a six-month absence.
Man-of-the-match Bryn Snellgrove (3), Aled Zachery (2), Mike Greatbanks, Jonny Fairclough, the returning Dave Legit and Steve Roberts shared the tries as Chester 2nds won 55-5 at home to Birkenhead Park 2nds on Saturday in the North West League Premier Division.
In South Lancs/Cheshire Division Three there were wins for Helsby, 31-26 at home to Capenhurst, and high-flying Ellesmere Port, 26-18 at Buxton.