SAM HUGHES grabbed a dramatic late winner for Chester as they defeated 10-man Torquay United 1-0.
The winning goal at Plainmoor arrived on 80 minutes, as 19-year-old captain Hughes struck with a powerful shot from 25 yards which deflected into the far corner, after Torquay defender Myles Anderson had been sent off in the first-half for a professional foul on James Alabi.
Chester were indebted to goalkeeper Alex Lynch for a stunning point blank save on 65 minutes to deny Jamie Reid when the Torquay forward looked certain to score.
It was a second away win in a week for Jon McCarthy's Blues, but this latest defeat drags Kevin Nicholson's Torquay back into the relegation zone.
There were a few surprises in the Blues line-up, with Elliott Durrell (knee), Tom Shaw and Theo Vassell (foot) dropping out, Lucas Dawson, Wade Joyce and Hughes coming back in, the latter skippering the team.
Reid evaded a tackle from Joyce in the opening minute and crossed low but Lynch gathered comfortably.
A long ball over on five minutes caught Ryan Astles on the turn but Ruari Keating was denied by Blaine Hudson's sliding challenge. Astles took a tumble in the box from Dawson's delivery but referee Samuel Allison waved away the penalty appeals.
Reid caught Dawson on the ankle 20 yards out and Evan Horwood narrowly sent the resulting free-kick wide of Brendan Moore's goal. James Alabi then flicked on Dawson's inswinging free-kick but Moore was able to catch it cleanly as the rain began to pour down at Plainmoor.
Torquay's best chance fell to Anderson on 21 minutes but he failed to convert an inswinging corner from six yards out, before Reid's fierce free-kick 25 yards out flashed wide of Lynch's goal.
Reid looked dangerous and jinked past Joyce before dragging his shot wide from 20 yards out, Dawson then sparking Kane Richards into life at the other end with a fine 40 yard ball, Richards shot deflected for a corner.
Horwood came off second best from a challenge with Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and limped off down the tunnel, replaced by young midfielder Matty Waters, before Reid wasted a good chance for the Gulls, his cross sailing way past the far post. Luke Young then nearly got on the end of Reid's cross as the hosts pushed for an opener.
Keating was cautioned for a late tackle on Hughes, before the major turning point on 43 minutes as Anderson was sent off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Neat interplay allowed Alabi a clear run on goal and Anderson mistimed his sliding tackle and wiped out the centre forward, refereeing Allison awarding a free-kick on the edge of the area before brandishing the red card for the centre-back.
Gulls' forward Shaun Harrad was sacrificed shortly after with Jordan Lee coming on the fill the void in defence. Rowe-Turner flew down the left wing with Hudson doing well not to turn the ball into his own net.
Dawson floated a free-kick to the far post and Astles met it with a firm header which was easily saved by Moore. The home faithful were livid with the officials when Young was cautioned for a rash tackle on Waters on halfway before Alabi's turn and shot on the hour mark flashed wide.
Lynch kept Torquay at bay on 65 minutes with quite simply, the save of the season. Reid put Keating clean through and initially Lynch did well to keep out his effort, Johnny Hunt magnificently blocking the rebound.
Keating then crossed for Reid six yards out and the striker's first-time volley was clawed away by an outstanding one-handed stop from the Blues' goalkeeper.
Richards slid through Alabi but his tame shot was easily saved before Durrell, who replaced Joyce, cut inside and his left-footed drive was well held by Moore.
Richards was replaced by Shaw on 79 minutes and within seconds, the Blues were ahead. Hughes collected the ball on the right-hand side 25 yards out and let fly with a powerful strike which deflected off Sean McGinty and nestled in the far corner, sparking wild scenes of celebration behind the goal.
Astles almost turned the ball into his own net and the Gulls pushed for a leveller but Chester held firm to lift them above the 50-point mark for the season.
Torquay: Moore, Rowe-Turner, Lathorpe, Gallifucuo, McGinty; Anderson, Verma, Keating (Williams 76), Young; Harrad (Lee 44), Reid (Sparkes 76).
Chester: Lynch, Hughes, Hudson, Astles, Hunt; Joyce (Durrell 70), Dawson, Lloyd, Horwood (Waters 30); Richards (Shaw 79), Alabi.
See full story in the Chester Leader