A FOURTH goal in two games by Chester's new goalscoring hero Akwasi Asante ensured the spoils were shared in an entertaining Cheshire derby at Stockport's Edgeley Park.

Asante, who scored a hat-trick on debut last week against Darlington, followed up last week's heroics with another fine display with the Blues feeling they did more than enough to beat the Hatters following a barnstorming second half in which County keeper Ben Hinchcliffe denied Chester again and again after Sam Walker had converted a penalty for the hosts on the stroke of half time.

An entertaining half of football started in furious fashion with both sides trading early blows. Stockport's Matty Warburton had the first chance for County who broke well down the left before the former Curzon Ashton striker dragged his shot narrowly wide.

On eight minutes, Anthony Dawson, enjoying his best half of football for Chester, galloped into the box and worked the ball to Asante who took aim and fired with his left foot only to see his low shot cannon off the inside of the far post and away.

Jut as Chester looked to be gaining control of the game their momentum was halted half way through the first half when centre back Daniel Livesey limped off and with no defender on the bench had to be replaced by striker Deane Smalley.

Despite his height, Smalley immediately looked ill at ease and just minutes after coming on he slipped allowing Frank Mulhern to advance down the left before he squared to Warburton whose measured shot came back off the upright.

Chester settled and with Asante's touch and strength causing untold problems for the Hatters' back four it was hardly a surprise that the big Dutchman was central to the breakthrough as he brought down the ball in the box and with a stunning piece of skill turned and shot with Ben Hinchcliffe making a good save. From the resulting corner the ever industrious Craig Mahon swung in a dangerous ball which flashed across the six yard box, evading Hinchliffe's grasp before finding Asante at the far post who side footed home.

Despite taking what was on balance a deserved lead, Chester looked shaky at the back and vulnerable to Stockport's pace on the break with the unfortunate Smalley sticking out like a sore thumb in the makeshift defence.

A minute before half time the Blues finally paid for Livesey's absence when a free kick from the left by Scott Duxbury was allowed to bounce in the area where it struck Smalley on the arm leaving referee Adam Herczeg little choice but to point to the spot from which Walker made no mistake with the resulting penalty.

With the game evenly poised at half time what followed was disappointing as a series of niggly fouls broke up the play and a lack of entertainment starved the sizeable crowd of 3,000+. Finally on 65 minutes, Chester carved open a chance as Steve Howson found Asante, who showing the signs of a burgeoning partnership, teed it up for Anthony Dudley whose curling effort was superbly tipped wide by Hinchliffe. A minute later Hinchcliffe was at it again diving to palm away an Asante header from Simon Grand's inviting left wing cross before the impressive keeper made it a hat trick of saves when he smothered a Dudley headed chance.

Stockport brought on former Blue Nyall Bell and quickly reminded Chester they were still in a game when Warburton's deep cross from the right was headed just over by the onrushing Duxbury.

As the last ten minutes beckoned, this was very much a game up for grabs. First Warburton had a shot blocked before Chester had a decent shout for a penalty when Sam Minihan seemed to handle the ball as he attempted to block a Mahon dribble.

With the game moving into added time, Asante took a tumble under a challenge in the area but again the referee waved away the appeals before the goalscorer hobbled off for the final minutes in favour of Cain Noble as the 90 minutes played out amidst some frantic blocking from the visitors.