GARY Roberts has defended his midfield partner Scott Burton after the Chester skipper's sending off proved the turning point in the Blues' 4-0 defeat at Altrincham.

Hopes were high at half time that Chester could go on at get a result at Moss Lane after a goalless first 45 minutes saw the visitors on the front foot and restricting Altrincham's trademark passing game.

But just six minutes after the break, Burton's late challenge on Sean Williams near the halfway line saw the captain receive a second yellow card with Chester going on to concede four goals in a nightmare second half.

"It (Burton's dismissal) had a big effect on the game but as a team both collectively and individually we still need to do a lot better and not cave in like that," said Roberts.

"There was nothing in the game at half time and we had weathered the early storm without them really creating anything in the first 20 minutes.

"Early in the second half we thought we were on the front foot and then obviously the sending off happens and from then on it was just a bit of a disaster."

Both Roberts and Burton are know for their combative style in the centre of the pitch but the former Crew midfielder said there was no question of the pair changing their style.

"The name of the game is to put your foot in and if you don't put the foot in you get hurt," said Roberts. "Scott is experienced and he has apologised to the lads but it isn't Scott's fault - it's the other 14 lads as well. We've got to adapt quicker and do better as a team."

Saturday sees Chester, who are now in ninth place and three points off the play off positions, back at home where they take on strugglers Leamington with the Blues expected to welcome back the likes of Simon Grand and Akwasi Asante while Blues fans will also be encouraged by the sight of Matty Hughes taking part in the warm up against Altrincham.

"We have to dust ourselves down and work hard in training on Tuesday," added Roberts. "It's football and it's just the way it goes sometimes but we'll pick ourselves up.

"The dressing room is gutted but we have to go and again and with nine games left we've got to win as many as we can.

"It's a hard place to come to our place so we'll take one game at a time and this result has gone now, brushed under the carpet and we go again."