CHESTER FC underlined their promotion credential with an accomplished display to beat Brackley Town 3-2 at St James’ Park.
Brackley’s inability to deal with crosses was their downfall as Chester surged into a deserved 3-0 lead and it seemed Brackley were heading for a heavy defeat until two late goals.
The score line was a false reflection on the balance of play with Chester dominant before a quick-fire brace from Steve Diggin set up a frenetic finale but the visitors held on to record a thoroughly deserved three points.
Chester outclassed the Saints in every department in a showing that surely makes them nailed-on for promotion – as they now lie 10 points ahead of Brackley at the top of the Blue Square North.
Chester were on the front foot from the first whistle and almost went ahead inside two minutes but Brackley survived the early scare after frantically clearing a goalmouth scramble.
Brackley were content to contain their visitors while looking to hit them on they break and their threat on the counter was highlighted by good work from Glenn Walker and Diggin before the latter shot over.
Despite that, Chester were looking the likelier to break the deadlock and they came within an inch of doing so when Nathan Jarman’s scuffed shot fell to Danny Williams, who lifted his attempt above Billy Turley but onto the crossbar.
The goal didn’t take long to arrive, however, as two minutes later Brackley failed to clear a Chester corner and the ball fell to David Hankin who fired in.
The visitors remained on top and dominated possession and they were rewarded with a second following more static Saints defending, which allowed Ben Mills to nip in and head past a helpless Turley.
Williams and Jarman had further chances to extend the lead before half time but the score remained 2-0.
Chester picked up from where they left off after the break with Turley forced into a fine double save from Mills and then Hankin.
Following a quiet period, Chester were keen to wrap up the three points with Mills heading just wide after a fine team move.
Chester looked like scoring every time they came forward and they seemed to have put the game to bed 15 minutes from time through Goerge Horan’s header from a Wes Baynes corner.
The introduction of Elliot Sandy and Gary Mulligan sparked Brackley into life and they finally managed a spell of pressure that culminated in a goal for Diggin, who netted from Mulligan’s cross.
From what looked just a consolation, the Saints suddenly found themselves within touching distance of a point when Diggin and Mulligan combined once more with the former superbly heading into the corner on the stroke of 90 minutes.
That set up a nervy ending with Chester fearing the worst as Brackley poured everything forward in the final seconds – even Turley went up for a corner – but Chester held on to a thoroughly deserved victory that sees them go 10 points clear.
Brackley: Turley, Corcoran, Austin, Solkhon (c), McDonald, Story (Winters 45), Nisevic, Odhiambo (Sandy 65), Walker, Diggin, Robinson (Mulligan 65).
Subs not used: Clifton, Laurie Walker
Chester: Danby, Baynes, McGinn, Horan (c), Linwood, Williams (Howard 90), Hankin (Turner 76), Sarcevic, Jarman (Marc Williams 83), Mills, Williams.
Subs not used: Gray, Denson
Referee: Daniel Cook
Assistants: Adam Byliss and Andy Dine
Star Saint: Steve Diggin - Two good finishes almost earned Brackley a point