Marcus Bignot says his Chester FC side ‘never earned the right to play’ in their 1-0 FA Trophy loss at lower-league East Thurrock United.

The Blues made the trip to Essex to take on National League South outfit in confident mood after an unbeaten start to 2018. But their hopes of continuing the momentum and sealing a place in the last 16 of the Trophy were dashed by Calvin Ekpetita’s 17th-minute strike.

And a miserable afternoon was compounded when substitute Gary Roberts was sent off 10 minutes into his debut for a tackle on Max Cornhill. Roberts, who had been making a positive impression, insisted he got the ball.

But the midfielder is now set to sit out the next three matches through suspension as Chester resume their battle to stay in the National League. Bignot was left to rue the loss of his new signing.

“I’m really gutted for him. That one pass when he put Ross (Hannah) through… I’m not bad at seeing passes and seeing play, and even I didn’t see that.

“That’s what he brings. He came on and bossed it for us.

“He got us into patterns got our talented players on the ball. I honestly didn’t see it (the tackle) so I can’t make an opinion on it.

“I’m gutted for him.”

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