TWO former Chester players condemned the Blues to their first pre-season defeat at Moss Lane.
Jon McCarthy’s men were second best throughout the contest and lost out, as ex-Deva duo Tom Peers and Jerome Wright scored either side of half-time, cancelling out Liam Davies’ fine equaliser on 38 minutes, before Josh Amis added a third late on.
Lucas Dawson did reduce arrears with a late penalty but most worryingly for boss McCarthy was the manner in which his raft of summer signings were comprehensively outplayed in the first-half, with Phil Parkinson’s side dominating possession.
It failed to improve in the second period and the Blues’ squad simply have to show more quality than this if they are to compete in the National League.
There were some familiar faces in the Robins line-up with ex-Blues quartet Tony Thompson, John Disney, Peers and Wright all involved.
Alty were in the ascendency throughout the opening 15 minutes and Peers nearly squeezed in a shot from 12 yards out but his effort went wide from John Johnston's cross.
Chester chased the ball an awful lot considering the Robins are now two tiers below McCarthy’s outfit.
The Blues can barely have had 15 per cent of possession by the 25-minute mark, as Josh Hancock's glancing header flashed wide of Alex Lynch's upright.
Ryan Astles gifted Peers a golden opportunity but his lobbed effort sailed over Lynch's crossbar.
Shortly after the half hour mark and Alty grabbed a fully deserved lead. Hancock's low right-footed shot took a deflection off Halls and was diverted in from six yards by Peers.
However, just five minutes later, the Blues were level. James Akintunde did well to win possession and laid the ball into Davies' path, the winger smashing a low left-footed drive past Thompson from 25 yards.
The two sides went in all-square and McCarthy will be the first to admit this was the worst 45 minutes from his side so far in their fifth pre-season outing.
All 11 changes were made at the break and the Blues responded well, Dawson intercepting the ball on halfway, driving forward and feeding Nyal Bell, who dragged his effort wide.
Sam Heathcote went close for Alty but James Jones nipped in to block his goalbound effort, before Johnston bamboozled Bell with terrific skills in the corner, his cross deflecting behind for a goal-kick.
Amis thought he’d put the hosts back into the lead on 64 minutes but his effort which went in off the woodwork was ruled out as Johnston failed to keep the ball in play on.
Johnston was the best player on the pitch and terrorised Chester down the rght wing all evening, as rain began to fall.
The Blues should’ve been behind as Tomoli Omotola just failed to connect with a low cross but Alty didn’t have to wait long as they re-took the lead on 69 minutes.
It was another former Blue who bagged the goal, as Wright curled a stunner into the far corner from 18 yards.
Chester nearly drew level straight from the restart, as Wade Joyce’s pass found their young trialist forward 20 yards out, whose fierce shot whacked the crossbar and was cleared behind.
Amis put the gloss on this impressive victory for the Robins on 76 minutes, fed down the right flank before blasting a shot goalbound, which Chester’s trialist goalkeeper should really have kept at bay.
Jake Moult was adjudged to have brought down Bell inside the box on 83 minutes, when it looked as though he’d played the ball, and Dawson tucked home the penalty.
Bell wasted a decent chance with minutes remaining and it rounded off a fairly dismal night for the Blues.
Altrincham: Thompson, Disney, Short, Lynch, Harrison, Moult, Johnston, Sheridan, Peers, Poole, Hancock; Substitutions on: Desmore, Brownhill, Jones, Taylor, Wright, Amis, Heathcote, Deasy, Omotola (all 57).
Chester first-half XI: Lynch, Halls, McCombe, Astles, Trialist, Waters, Turnbull, James, Davies; Akintunde, White. Second-half XI: Trialist A, Trialist B, Jones, Trialist C, Downes, Chapell, Dawson, Joyce, Hellawell; Bell, Trialist D.
Man-of-the-match: John Johnston – Altrincham’s best player who terrorised the Blues full-backs all evening.
See full story in the Chester Leader