CHESTER silenced their critics with an impressive home victory against promotion hopefuls FC United.
First half goals from debutant Matty McGinn and Matty McNeil put the Blues in the driving seat during a contest they dominated for long spells.
Chester, who were looking to bounce back after their 1-0 weekend loss at Hednesford, maintained control until 11 minutes from time when striker Mick Norton found the target off the left post with a header from substitute Carlos Roca's corner.
FC United provided a nervy finale for their hosts and forced Blues keeper John Danby into two fine saves towards the end of the match, but the visitors' failed in their bid to restore parity.
Blues boss Neil Young made four changes to the side that was beaten 1-0 at Hednesford on Saturday.
Robbie Booth, Chris Simm, Michael Powell, and new loan signing Matty McGinn started in place of Wes Baynes, Greg Stones, Jamie Rainford, and Ashley Williams.
Defender Liam Brownhill's forward pass sparked Chester's first meaningful attack in the third minute. Matty McNeil glanced the ball on for Simm, but former Chester City keeper James Spencer raced to the edge of his box to gather possession.
Ex-Wrexham striker Matthew Wolfenden responded for the visitors two minutes later, but his low 20 yard strike hit the base of the left post and bounced wide.
McGinn carved the Blues scoring opportunity in the seventh minute with a trademark long throw into the United box which was cleared as far as Chester skipper George Horan whose goalbound effort was deflected into the path of Spencer.
McGinn was orchestrating Chester's setpieces as the Blues began to win more possession including a 13th minute corner that found Horan's head, but the effort was easily gathered by Spencer.
On loan debutant McGinn then coolly slotted home a 17th minute penalty after Simm had been fouled in the area by Lee Neville who was booked.
Chester were inches away from doubling their advantage in the 25th minute when Brownhill clipped a superbly measured pass towards McNeil whose header looped over Spencer and onto the top of the bar.
Powell was presented with a gilt-edged scoring chance in the 28th minute, latching onto a headed pass by Horan off McGinn's long throw, but steering his first time effort from 10 yards wide of the left post.
Michael Carr relieved the pressure on the visitors in the 35th minute when he let fly with an ambitious long range shot that Danby easily saved.
But Chester resumed normal service a minute later when Christian Smith's free kick found Horan whose header had to be tipped over by Spencer.
Former FC United winger Jerome Wright maintained Chester's increasing command of the contest, but his 25 yard shot was deflected wide of the target.
Horan forced Spencer into a save in the 37th minute with a back post header from Robbie Booth's left sided corner.
United, clearly needing to make changes, then made a double substitution, introducing Carlos Roca and Steve Torpey in place of Ben Deegan and Michael Carr.
Liverpool referee Jon Hunt added insult to injury minutes before the break when he punished Richard Battersby with only a yellow card for a blatant elbowing offence on Simm, and seconds later brandished a yellow card to Simm for re-appearing from the touchline earlier than he should have done.
Chester made it 2-0 a minute into first half stoppage time thanks to McNeil who slotted the ball beyond Spencer after Danby's long kick had been flicked on by Horan.
But Simm failed to extend the Blues' lead seconds later when he seized onto a poor back from Dean Stott and rounded Spencer before losing his footing before allowing United to clear the danger.
Alex Brown carved Chester's first chance after the break, controlling Wright's pass in the left and creating space before steering his goalbound effort straight at Spencer.
Brownhill maintained the Blues hopes of increasing their advantage seconds later, but his surging run culminated in a 20 yard shot screwed well wide of the left post.
United striker Mike Norton attempted to reduce his side's arrears in the 63rd minute when he raced into the box and saw his low shot beat Danby and bounce wide of the left post.
And Norton was offered another shooting chance seconds later but saw his goalbound effort gratefully accepted by Danby.
Chester introduced substitute Iain Howard in place of Wright in the 64th minute and Howard played his part in an assist for McNeil in the 67th minute, but the striker's effort was pawed clear by Spencer.
Horan pushed forward with the aim of extending Chester's lead in the 75th minute, but his powerful low drive crashed off the foot of the left post.
Norton gave the visitors hope of a dramatic finale when he headed home a Roca corner in the 79th minute.
And Danby had to pull off two fine saves from Jake Cottrell as the visitors pressed for a late equaliser.
CHESTER (4-4-2): Danby 7; Brownhill 8, Smith 8, Horan 8, McGinn 8; Booth 7 (Baynes 87), Brown 8, Powell 8, Wright 7 (Howard 64); Simm 9 (Reed 83), McNeil 8. Subs (not used): Rainford, Taylor.
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER (4-4-2): Spencer 8; Battersby 7, Neville 7, Cottrell 8, Jones 7; Stott 7, Deegan 7 (Roca 37), Platt 8 (Grimshaw 73), Carr 8 (Torpey 37); Norton 9, Wolfenden 8. Subs (not used): Metcalfe, Chadwick.
REFEREE: Jonathan Hunt (Liverpool).
MATCH RATING (1-5): ***
MAN OF THE MATCH: Blues striker Chris Simm worked his socks off to create openings.
MAGIC MOMENT: Matty McNeil's finish to put the Blues 2-0 in front.
MOAN OF THE MATCH: Inconsistent refereeing decisions.
See full story in the Chester Leader