IT was a case of ifs, buts and maybes for joint Chester manager Anthony Johnson after watching his side complete a third away win on the spin with a straightforward 3-0 victory at relegation favourites Ashton United.

Despite the humiliating 6-0 home defeat to Stockport earlier this month, Chester have fit a semblance of form in recent weeks with this latest victory, thanks to goals from Iwan Murray, Danny Livesey and George Waring, taking them to within three points of the play off positions.

But with just two games left, including the Bank Holiday Monday home clash with high-flaying Brackley, the clock is quickly winding down on a season in which the Blues have been far too inconsistent to truly earn a shot at promotion.

"What we said was let's go and enjoy ourselves today," said Johnson. "We have had favourable games but we're three points off the play-offs with two games to go.

"We can still take it right to the wire but our goal difference might let us down in the end and we might have to win 24-0 at Alfreton. But you could see the lads played without pressure today and it would be great if they could play like that all the time.

"We have got something to build towards now. To have the supporters out in the sun and singing is what I imagined 10 months ago. It was brilliant to see people enjoying themselves so let's take it into Monday and then Alfreton and then, who knows, we might have a game three or four days after that."

Chester made three changes to the side which salvaged a 2-2 draw with York with Matthew Thompson, George Green and Craig Mahon dropping to the bench in favour of Steve Howson, Anthony Dudley and Murray.

And it was Murray who repaid the joint bosses with an excellent performance including a stunning opening goal which saw the teenager let fly from 25 yards.

Said Johnson: "It was unbelievable. We said to him before he went out that wanted to see four or five efforts by full time.

"That one was something special and he has special ability. I thought the lads around him allowed him to play with that freedom and I thought George (Waring) and Duds (Anthony Dudley) gave us a platform on which to build on and that space was there for Iwan to work in. It was a brilliant performance from the kid."

Chester salvaged a 2-2 draw at Brackley back in November thanks to a last minute stunner from Dan Mooney but Johnson saw enough in that performance to believe the Northamptonshire outfit deserve their current top three status.

"I believe the Brackley game at their place showed why they are one of the top sides," he said. "They are always in the top six and have experienced players and an experienced manager and they are a good solid football team. But let's go and enjoy the game and enjoy the day and hopefully we can get a decent crowd and get weather like this because it always puts numbers on the gate.

"We've talked about giving the fans something to be excited about and there are big plans hopefully going to come out soon about next season and we're all super excited about it."