DARLINGTON’S sorry season shows no sign of improving. This morning they revealed their playing budget has been cut, and this afternoon they were beaten 3-1 by ten-man Chester.

All of Chester’s goals were scored by debutant striker Akwasi Asante, and the result against a team that had a man sent off after half an hour sees Darlington drop two places to 17th, three points above the relegation zone.

There are now concerns that Tommy Wright’s team will be dragged into a battle to stay up.

They have not won in six matches in all competitions, and lost eight of their 20 games this season, winning just four.

Darlington did not look like winning today, certainly not in the first 45 minutes when they failed to to test Chester goalkeeper Grant Shenton.

Wright started with a 4-4-2 formation, Tom Elliott starting at left-back with Jonny Burn recalled to the centre of defence and Liam Hughes returning to midfield.

But Asante, who only joined on loan from Tamworth yesterday, a mobile striker with the presence up front that Darlington were lacking, put Chester ahead in the first half with a header from a left-wing cross.

By half-time the hosts were down to ten men when midfielder Dan Mooney saw red for two bookable offences.

The 31st minute dismissal should have been the spur for Quakers to take control, but it was Chester who scored the second goal of the game, making it 2-0 after 49 minutes.

Asante took the ball past two Darlington players on the byline, and then his shot beat Jonny Maddison, who had returned to the team after Zach Hemming returned to Middlesbrough following his loan spell.

Darlington had hope when Joe Wheatley pulled a goal back. It was a fine strike on 56 minutes, blasting home from 25 yards for his first goal of the season.

But once Asante added Chester’s third there was no way back for Darlington.

From the left he cut inside and curled the ball beyond Maddison and inside the post for a 3-1 lead.

With mainly teenagers on the bench Wright had few personnel options to change. He sent on Ben O’Hanlon, while late on 16-year-old Sanny Lingthep was given his debut.

In the closing stages Luke Trotman saw a shot go narrowly wide and a deflected Wheatley effort had to be tipped over by Shenton, but Darlington were well beaten.