CHESTER’S long unbeaten run of 11 games came to an end after two goals in each half from Jordan Hulme saw a well-organised Altrincham side come away from the Swansway with all three points.
The Blues had dragged themselves back into the contest following Hulme’s 11th minute opener and were deservedly level early in the second half through Simon Grand’s header but a defensive lapse from a corner saw Hulme poach his second and Altrincham hold out to draw the curtain on what has been an impressive spell of results for the Blues who could have gone top of the National League North with a win.
With both sides registering identical attacking and defensive records so far this season it didn’t take a genius to predict this could be a close game and so it turned out in an entertaining first half.
Altrincham were quickest out of the blocks and could have gone ahead as early as the fifth minute when Andy White forced a fine save from Grant Shenton with a powerful half-volley.
The warning signs were there for Chester and six minutes later Altrincham took the lead after a quick break down the left saw the ball passed to Jordan Hulme who took advantage of a retreating back four to place a low shot past Shenton’s right hand.
The goal undoubtedly woke up the somnolent Seals who responded well with Anthony Dudley’s 20 yard curler graving the bar and Dan Mooney’s long range effort saved by a tumbling Tony Thompson.
Moments later Mani Dieseruvwe went even closer as the Salford City loanee battled his way into the box before seeing his low shot smothered by the onrushing Thompson.
Despite the pressure, Altrincham looked organised and more than capable of soaking up the Blues’ attacks and launching a few of their own as John Johnston proved when Shenton tipped over his powerful 20 yard drive before the same player smashed a volley which flew through a crowded box and wide.
Chester could count themselves a little unlucky to go in at half time a goal down and with that sense of injustice still festering they flew at Altrincham after the break and soon found themselves back on level terms after Gary Roberts’ pinpoint free kick from the left found an unmarked Simon Grand who with the freedom of the six yard book placed his header past Thompson.
Altrincham were rattled and Chester could scent blood. First Steve Howson headed over from a free kick before James Jones produced a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent Dudley pulling the trigger six yards out.
It was a shock then when the third goal of the game was scored by the visitors who won a corner down the right which was swung over deep past the far post but headed back across the goal where Hulme was lurking to bundle it in on the line.
With a little over ten minutes left, Johnson and Morley threw on Luke Jordan and Deane Smalley for the wasteful Dieseruvwe and John Pritchard as the Blues went in search of a deserved equaliser.
Teenager Cain Noble also joined the action, but with the clock running down and Altrincham continuing to present a threat on the break, the chance refused to come.
Owen Dale almost added a third for Atly forcing a decent save from Shenton whose long goal kicks were proving the only way for Chester to advance anywhere near the visitor’s area with a long range effort from Grand the closest the Blues came to parity before the referee blew his whistle.