DURHAM City took Evo-Stik League Division One North leaders Chester to the wire before their hopes evaporated late in the game.
The majority of fans in a bumper crowd of 2,514 went silent as City shocked their hosts, scoring after just eight minutes.
Amar Purewal was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and Tommy English gave goalkeeper Adam Judge no chance with a sweetly-struck free kick into the far corner of the net.
Chester had an excellent chance to equalise, but George Horan headed wide when unmarked at the back post.
Durham were proving effective in mid-field, though, frustrating the home side, who were reduced to long-range efforts from Stephen Beck and Chris Simm, which didn’t trouble goalkeeper James Winter.
His opposite number Judge was forced into a superb save from Amar Purewal, but just when it appeared City would go in ahead, they conceded an equaliser right on half-time.
Greg Stones and Robert Booth combined and when Winter was only able to parry a shot, Simm pounced from close range.
Almost immediately after resuming, City went behind.
A free kick from Greg Stones eluded every defender and the unmarked Carl Ruffer blasted the ball home at the back post.
Amar Purewal and Jack Pounder were desperately close to restoring parity before Kyle Wilson just about killed off plucky Durham with his late strike.
Despite losing, Durham can certainly take encouragement from their performance against a team which joint manager Lee Collings reckons is the best in the league.
Durham City: J Winter, Butler, Ayre (Ayers), E Graham (Woods), Wilkinson, Arjun Purewal, Cutts (C Winter), Thompson, Pounder, English, Amar Purewal.
Ref: Mr P McDermott.