CHESTER conceded in the 90th minute as Eastleigh claimed a last-gasp 1-0 win at Bumpers Lane.
To say this was smash-and-grab would be doing Eastleigh a diservice, but they created few openings during the 90 minutes, yet still claimed the points in the dying minutes as Scott Wilson turned in Michael Green's corner.
Chances were few and far between at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium, with Kane Richards and Tom Shaw coming closest for Jon McCarthy's Chester side, who slipped a place to 15th in the National League standings.
Richard Hill's Spitfires twice denied by good saves from Alex Lynch but just as the game seemed to be drifting into a draw, unmarked Wilson popped up with the winner to inflict a third straight home defeat on the Blues.
There were two changes to the Chester line-up that faced Tranmere a fortnight ago, new signing Lucas Dawson handed a first start and Theo Vassell returning from a hamstring strain, Evan Horwood and Wade Joyce dropping to the bench.
Alex Lynch was forced into a sharp early save after three minutes to deny Craig McAllister’s low drive, before Sam Hughes couldn’t direct his header goalwards, although he was adjudged to have been offside.
Michael Green dragged a shot wide of Lynch’s post on 12 minutes as the game failed to spark into life in the opening exchanges. Matt Tubbs then squandered a good opportunity for the Spitfires, his left-footed effort going narrowly wide.
Elliott Durrell did superbly to keep the ball in play on 20 minutes and his whipped cross was close to an on-rushing Richards. James Alabi then surged into the box with some terrific skills to nutmeg Paul Reid but a deflection took the ball out of his path.
On 33 minutes there were big appeals for a Chester penalty for handball against centre-half Reid, but referee Andrew Miller gave the decision against the Blues.
Hunt’s long diagonal found Durrell but the winger’s touch let him down when through on goal before Alabi won the ball off Gavin Hoyte, drove into the area but his low cross was hooked away.
Ryan Burge’s inswining cross was well claimed by Lynch, as the sides went in all-sqaure at the break.
Ricahrds made early inroads in the second-half as his mazy dribble was brought to an abrupt end by Hoyte 20 yards out. Dawson’s subsequent free-kick was clawed away by Graham Stack in the Eastleigh goal, before Richards shot was tipped away, Durrell firing the rebound in but he was in an offside position.
Durrell’s trickery won a 52nd minute corner which was punched away by Stack as the Blues pushed for the opener.
Dawson’s excellent delivery was headed down by Hughes, but Richards failed to connect with an acrobatic effort. Blaine Hudson was then cautioned for a pull-back on Tubbs as he was racing through on goal.
Green’s 25-yard drive was deflected behind off Vassell’s back, Astles and Dawson clearing the resulting corner.
The Blues’ best chance arrived on the hour mark, Durrell’s delicate reverse-pass finding Durrell on the edge of the box but he smashed his shot just wide of the upright.
Richards did superbly to jink past Green but when his run was halted by Reda Johnson, he then recklessly dived in at the centre-back and was correctly cautioned.
Shaw, who had been on assistant managerial duties on the touchline with Chris Iwelumo absent, was introduced as a 71st minute replacement, as the Blues searched for a winner to pull clear of any looming worries of being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
Ben Close forced Lynch into a smart stop down to his left on 76 minutes, before the ever-hungry Durrell won a corner, Hudson close to applying the finish from Dawson’s delivery.
Hughes was bundled over, leading to an Eastleigh corner, but Astles once again dealt with the danger. Horwood then played Chester into all sorts of trouble with a stray pass, but Wilson couldn't convert for the visitors.
Shaw's delightful lobbed effort dropped onto the roof of the net, before Hill's men nicked a vital victory as replacement Wilson turned home Green's whipped corner from point-blank range past a helpless Lynch.
Chester: Lynch, Vassell, Hughes, Hudson (O’Brien 77), Astles, Hunt; Dawson (Horwood 81), Durrell, Lloyd; Richards (Shaw 71), Alabi.
Eastleigh: Stack, Hoyte, Green, Reid, Johnson (Ayo 81); Odoffin, Togwell, Close, Burge (Matthews 69); McAllister, Tubbs (Wilson 69).
See full story in the Chester Leader