IT was billed as Chester's biggest game of the season between two old Football League rivals gunning for promotion in front of a raucous midweek crowd.

Well what an anti-climax. Only one team here looked interested in playing at a higher level come August and it certainly wasn't the Blues.

Chester were quite simply blown away by a brilliantly ruthless Stockport County after a first half riddled with errors  from the hosts which left the game all but over come the break.

Chester started badly and got worse. After just 10 minutes the Hatters were in the lead after a deep cross from the left by Scott Duxbury found Matty Waters badly exposed at the far post where he was beaten easily by Adam Thomas whose header back across goal was tapped in at close range by Nyall Bell.

The hosts were being swamped across midfield and ten minutes later County doubled their lead as a good move down the right saw the ball reach Sam Walker on the edge of the area with the former Halifax midfielder's low shot taking a slight deflection on its way past Shenton.

Nothing was going the home side's way with Matty Waters in particular suffering a torrid time at left back and Bell proving too much of a physical presence for centre backs Simon Grand and Danny Livesey.

It was as much as Chester could do to just hang in there with the deafening County faithful spurring on their players to get the victory needed for the Hatters to take over from Chorley at the top of the league.

Just after the half hour, the win was sealed as County grabbed a third after indecision between Grand and Livesey allowed Bell to run between them and slot past Shenton for an easy finish.

You could argue it was too late by then but for the rest of the half Chester at least showed some fight. Craig Mahon, who was one of the few players absolved of blame in a nightmare half, started delivering some fine centres into the box with one eventually finding the head of Livesey who forced a decent save from Ben Hinchcliffe.

That was as good as it got for the Blues with referee James Bell, who had earlier booked skipper Gary Roberts for a late challenge, offering some respite with the half time whistle.

With the job done, Stockport relaxed in the opening stages of the second half with Sam Minihan's drive straight at Shenton their only moment of attacking play as they allowed Chester more possession.

Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson didn't wait long to ring the changes and on 53 minutes they went three at the back with Ben McKenna and Anthony Dudley the players sacrificed for Steve Howson and George Waring.

County continued to sit in, waiting to hit Chester on the break with the Blues new line up scarcely doing better than they had in the first half despite Mahon trying his best to be a nuisance down the wing and Howson prooving a better option at the back.

Just after the hour, Chester were left exposed again when Bell, searching for his hat-trick, slid into a cross from the right only to bundle the ball over. If the visitors were disappointed, they didn't have to wait much longer, as Darren Stephenson made it four with a nice sidefooted finish following a good move down the right.

Akwasi Asante was hauled off for Dan Mooney as the managers looked beyond this game, but in all honesty it is hard to see how such an inconsistent side have it in them to reach the play offs let alone win them.

With the clock running down there was still time for further shame when Sean McAllister brought down Stephenson in the area with Sam Walker converting the resultant penalty. Moments later substitute Jordan Keane made it six with a long range shot as Chester folded with a barely a wimper on an embarrassing night for all concerned.