CHESTER fell to their first defeat of 2019 as in-form Curzon Ashton pulled off a textbook smash and grab raid on the previously impregnable Swansway Stadium.

The Blues' excellent home record this season has kept them in contention for the play offs with just one defeat at the Deva all campaign but this was a game they never looked like getting anything from after Oliver Crankshaw put the Manchester outfit ahead in the 76th minute.

Previous to that Chester had enjoyed plenty of possession but with Akwasi Asante still missing through injury and Anthony Dudley joining him on the sick list this week with a hamstring strain, the home side lacked the penetration needed to break down Mark Bradshaw's side who had won their last three games and battled admirably at the back throughout the 90 minutes.

The Blues started strongly with new signing from Bradford Park Avenue, Ben McKenna making an immediate impression playing just behind Lloyd Marsh-Hughes and Bradley Jackson motoring down the right wing at every opportunity.

The first chance came as early as the second minute following some persistent pressing from Marsh-Hughes who won the ball and passed to Craig Mahon who played in the overlapping Simon Grand who scuffed his shot wide.

Moments later McKenna almost made the perfect start to his time at the Deva when his long range curler caught keeper Cameron Mason off his line and looked bound for the top corner until the gloveman tipped it on to the bar.

Mason then made a mess of a Dan Mooney shot before another McKenna effort from distance flew narrowly over to end an explosive opening ten minutes.

Eventually the game settled and The Nash began to bear their teeth with Chester looking muddled at times at the back as Grand and Steve Howson got in each other's way on a couple of occasions.

It was Grand though who had the next chance for the Blues when just before the half hour mark his header was tipped over by Mason who was proving a stubborn barrier for Chester to break down.

As the half drew to a close the hosts endured a real scare as the visitors came closest to scoring after break down the left found Lewis Reilly in the box whose snap shot caused the diving Shenton to readjust and pull off a fine save.

The home pressure continued after the break with a Grand header cleared off the line and Mohamud Ali almost putting through his own net with a mistimed leap.

The Mancunians seemed content with the point allowing Chester to keep pushing forward. George Green replaced McKenna and Jackson went close with a rising drive from 25 yards but the clear cut chance continued to evade the Blues as frustration levels grew.

With 15 minutes left Curzon's tactics finally paid off as they caught the Blues napping with a superb breakaway goal. Grand sold himself far too easily in midfield allowing Oliver Crankshaw to sprint past him and advance on the home goal before laying the ball off wide to Luke Wall who crossed for Crankshaw to slide in past a stranded Shenton.

Chester huffed and puffed for the remainder of the game but never really threatened Mason as a frustrating day ended in a dispiriting defeat which pressed home the need for a goalscorer.