Chester’s hopes of remaining a National League team suffered a crushing blow as Leyton Orient grabbed all three points at the Deva.

James Brophy’s second-half goal secured victory for the visitors and leaves Marcus Bignot’s side six points adrift of safety with time rapidly running out to produce a miraculous recovery.

To call this a smash and grab would be harsh on Orient, but the Blues will feel hard done by to emerge without at least a point, yet the visitors were the more streetwise of the two sides and emerged victorious.

Chester’s team was unchanged for only the second time this season, with Andy Halls retaining his place after agreeing to waive the clause in his contract which would have triggered a one-year contract extension if reaching 30 starts.

The Blues began brightly, Ryan Astles seeing a near post header well held by Dean Brill, before Tom Crawford got the fans on their feet with a superb sliding tackle on Jake Caprice.

Josh Koroma really should have done better for Orient on 11 minutes as he took way too long to shoot from 10 yards out and was blocked by the back-tracking Roberts.

Blacon’s Roberts was soon cautioned for a rash challenge on Brophy but the referee quickly equalled things up as Josh Coulson was booked for a foul on Crawford.

Craig Clay blasted well wide from 25 yards out on 22 minutes but Bignot’s side were playing the better football and had clearly taken plenty of confidence from their 3-1 weekend win over Eastleigh.

Roberts’ midfield mistake allowed Orient to counter but his partner in crime Crawford did superbly well to track back and intercept Brophy’s run.

Shaun Hobson’s near post clearance denied Macauley Bonne a tap-in from Caprice’s dangerous cross, before Brill was bundled over and spilt Halls’ deep cross with Archer and Astles unable to bundle it home.

Koroma was looking to expose Myles Anderson down the right wing and his flying run down the flank resulted in a whipped delivery but no one gambled in an Orient shirt and Chester cleared.

Caprice and Koroma again looked to get in behind the back line but there was plenty of endeavour and desire from the Blues and that didn’t go unnoticed by the crowd of 1,935 inside the Deva.

The second-half began with Ross Hannah, not quite getting the joy he did during that Eastleigh success where he scored twice, cutting inside past two defenders but unable to feed in Archer.

Hannah’s hard work earned a corner on the right-hand side, which Roberts fizzed in but Dan Happe hacked clear with Astles thundering in, before Craig Mahon was booked for a blatant block on Brophy, who did throw himself to the ground.

Halls, Archer and Hannah were all trying to make the breakthrough for Chester while Dom Vose, who had impressed on debut on Saturday, found life tougher here but did threaten when given the chance.

Halls trip on Brophy gave the O’s a dangerous free-kick 25 yards out with Koroma’s cross just evading Coulson at the far post.

Harry White was brought on to replace Archer – who had worked hard up front but struggled to get any change out of Happe – but just 90 seconds later it was the O’s who took the lead against the run of play.

Full-back Caprice again exposed Anderson’s weakness as a makeshift left-back and whipped in a dangerous cross from the right which Brophy stooped low to flick past Hornby with his head into the far corner. It was a bitter blow for the Blues.

Orient responded with a double change – as Dan Holman and Ebou Adams were withdrawn – before Halls was cautioned for a bad tackle on Craig Clay on halfway. No complaints from the Chester defender.

Matty Waters and James Akintunde were thrown on to try and salvage a point for the Blues, before Bonne really should have made the points safe on 80 minutes as he missed an open goal from two yards out, sliding in at the back post from Koroma’s excellent cross which had bypassed Hornby.

Bonne narrowly failed to connect with another good Caprice delivery on the right two minutes later, with Vose doing his upmost at the other to try and create something of note.

Brophy was booked for blasting the ball away with five minutes left as Orient tried to kill the game, with Roberts’ left-footed drive flying over from 30 yards.

White miscontrolled Vose’s chipped ball forward in the first of five added-on minutes, but Orient held on to leave Chester with a mountain to climb to try and stay up.