MANAGERLESS Chester suffered a second-half capitulation as they were thrashed 4-0 at table topping Dover Athletic.
The Blues were second-best for much of this encounter and gifted Chris Kinnear’s side a first-half lead as Giancarlo Gallifuoco was allowed a free-header four yards out.
The Blues, playing their final match under caretaker manager Tom Shaw, briefly rallied but once Mitch Pinnock made it two on the hour mark, there was no way back, and it was far too easy for Nortei Nortey and Mitch Brundle to make it 4-0.
Defensively this simply wasn’t good enough from the Blues, who are three points adrift of safety having won just one of their opening 11 league fixtures.
The board now have a big decision this week as look to appoint the Blues new boss before next weekend’s home clash with Maidenhead. Whoever the new man is, they have a real job on their hands to haul the club back up the table.
The Blues came into this clash on the back of a last-gasp 3-2 defeat at Gateshead in midweek, having battled back from two goals down to draw level in stoppage time only to ship a 93rd minute Conor Mitchell own goal.
The on-loan goalkeeper appeared to pay the price for that error as Alex Lynch was recalled to the line-up, along with Lucas Dawson, Harry White and Ryan Astles. Paul Turnbull failed a fitness test on his groin and missed out.
Blocks within the first 40 seconds from John McCombe and Andy Halls kept Kadell Daniels at bay before Pinnock's left-footed effort flashed over the bar.
The Blues began to exert themselves on the game in the opening 10 minutes, despite momentarily going down to 10 men as White was forced to the bench to change his shorts.
Lynch was well off his line to scoop up Josh Passley's long ball forward while Kingsley James' low cross was snuffed out by Connor Essam. White came back on and curled a shot well wide from 18 yards.
Excellent work from Ross Hannah earned an 11th minute free-kick in a dangerous position which Brundle headed clear.
James' tame effort was easily claimed by Mitch Walker before Halls' rampaging run down the right wing on 15 minutes ended with him firing low into the side-netting, but there was some decent football being played by Shaw's side.
Daniel produced a wonderful piece of skill to turn past McCombe on 21 minutes from Passley's diagonal ball, but his touch took the ball slightly too far away and Lynch did superbly to rush out and gather.
After a bright start, Chester conceding a shocking goal from a defensive point of view.
Brundle's corner was swung into a dangerous area and centre-half Gallifuoco was able to rise unmarked four yards out and thump his header into the net. The marking was non-existent and it was an appalling goal to ship.
Astles tried to repel immediately as he carried the ball 40 yards and fed White on the edge of the box but his effort was held by Walker.
Lynch flapped at a Pinnock cross as Dover won a corner but they were struggling the Whites' height upfront and Ryan Bird came close with a back-post header.
Astles drove wide from 30 yards as Chester attempted to respond, as Hannah escaped a caution for a late tackle on Gallifuoco.
Central midfielder James went on a mazy dribble in Dover's penalty box and his cut-back was a good one but no Chester player was on hand at the back-post to convert.
In all honesty, this was a game full of mistakes but Dover forward Daniel looked a class apart for the Whites and looked a threat whenever he claimed possession.
Wade Joyce wasted a great opportunity of the stroke of half-time as he inexplicably surrendered the ball rather than shooting as the goal opened up for him 12 yards out. McCombe's header from a Dawson corner drifted wide as the half-time whistle was blown.
Chester made a fine start to the second-half as White laid the ball off to Hannah who was brought down 20 yards out, Essam booked for his troubles. Hannah clipped the resulting free-kick over the bar.
White's glancing header flicked narrowly wide before Dawson blazed wildly over after Halls had won the ball back 30 yards out.
The Blues were really growing into the game and Joyce's low cross nearly found Hannah on 57 minutes but was intercepted by Essam.
Bell came on for White, as Joyce was cautioned for a cynical lunge on Pinnock, who was charging through on goal.
Pinnock dusted himself done and created the game's best moment on 62 minutes as he doubled the hosts' lead.
Collecting Brundle's pass 20 yards out, Pinnock twisted and turned past Kingsley James and unleashed an unstoppable low left-footed drive into the bottom corner which was past Lynch before he could do anything about it.
Pinnock was now in the mood and was stopped dead in his tracks by Blues skipper McCombe, who was booked for the challenge.
It was game over on 69 minutes as ex-Wrexham midfielder Nortey lashed home a volley from 10 yards out after fine work on the right wing by Tobi Sho-Silva, who skipped past Lathaniel Rowe-Turner with ease.
Hannah’s shot was saved down low by Walker, before Sho-Silva set Pinnock free and his effort was deflected wide off Rowe-Turner. Lynch then tipped Daniel’s powerful shot onto the top of the crossbar and over.
Lynch kept Sho-Silva at bay on 82 minutes but the ball wasn’t cleared by hesistant Blues’ defenders and Brundle rolled home from 12 yards out.
Lynch spread himself superbly to deny Pinnock but it was all way too comfortable for Kinnear’s men.
Dover: Walker, Passley, Gallifucco, Parry, Essam, Ilesanmi (Deen-Conteh 85), Brundle (c), Pinnock, Nortey, Bird (Sho-Silva 58), Daniel (Richards 80); Subs not used: Lewington, Allen.
Chester: Lynch, Halls, McCombe (c), Astles, Rowe-Turner, Joyce (Waters 71), James, Dawson, Mahon (Akintunde 63) White (Bell 60), Hannah; Subs not used: Mitchell, Sheron.
Attendance: 1,102 (65 away)
Referee: Dan Middleton
See full story in the Chester Leader