The National League North season may be less than a month old, but Chester are already underlining their status as serious contenders.

The unbeaten Blues notched a third successive league victory, thrashing top-six rivals Hereford 4-1 in the glorious Bank Holiday Monday sunshine at the Deva.

And while the UK has basked in a late summer heatwave, Chester have enjoyed their own hot streak of form in the early stages of the 2019/20 campaign.

A double from Akwasi Asante underpinned the dominant victory, with Anthony Dudley and substitute Danny Elliott also on target for the home side.

Bosses Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley made two changes to the side who won at Kidderminster two days earlier, with Scott Burton deputising for injured skipper Gary Roberts in midfield and Asante preferred to George Waring up front.

Making his first start this season for the Blues, Dutch striker Asante looked keen to prove a point in the early stages as he hustled and harried Hereford's back line before seeing an early snapshot charged down inside the box.

The visitors nearly profited from some lax defending on nine minutes when a mix-up between Joel Taylor and Gary Stopforth was seized upon by Bulls midfielder Bradley Ash, whose curling shot

cleared the crossbar.

Only the woodwork prevented the Blues taking the lead two minutes later when a Blues free-kick on the edge of the box was worked to Matty Hughes, whose cross found Kevin Roberts unmarked but his header from six yards hit the crossbar before rebounding behind.

Undeterred the Blues pushed harder for an opener, which arrived on 20 minutes when Hughes surged into the Bulls box and saw his stinging shot parried by Bulls stopper Brandon Hall before Asante reacted quickest to drive home the rebound from 10 yards.

After seizing the initiative, the hosts looked to press their advantage with full-back Joel Taylor showing his class with some rapid forays forward and dangerous crosses from the left flank.

In testing conditions, Hereford seemed to visibly wilt in the oppressive heat while Chester grew stronger.

And the hosts' dominance was duly rewarded on 29 minutes when Asante and Hughes combined well on the right before the latter's ball to the edge of the box found Dudley, who took a touch before steering a cool right-footed effort into the bottom corner.

A timely water break gave Hereford time to regroup, with interim manager Tim Harris relaying instructions to his shellshocked players.

The visitors did threaten with a series of half chances before the interval, with Mike Symons firing wide from just inside the penalty area after being played in by Rowan Liburd.

Minutes later, Bulls captain Josh Gowling headed a deep cross back across goal towards Ash who sent his effort wide under pressure.

Taylor's buccaneering runs from full-back typified Chester's high intensity as the 23-year-old darted down the line and jinked into the box before seeing his shot deflected over in the final action of the half.

Both sides emerged refreshed from the break, with Hereford introducing Raheem Hanley and Tom Owen-Evans from the bench to inject some freshness into proceedings.

But any hopes of a comeback were all but ended on 52 minutes when Danny Livesey's aerial ball found Brad Jackson, who beat full-back Jared Hodgkiss for pace before cutting the ball back from the byline for Asante to fire home.

Galvanised by a merited third goal, Chester looked to heap more misery on Hereford with Jackson coming to the fore once again.

The pacy wideman ghosted past the Hereford midfield with a rapid run before sliding a ball through for Hughes who was denied by Hall.

A constant threat on the right, Jackson's searing pace almost put him in on goal again before he was upended by Owen-Evans, who was booked for the cynical challenge.

With Asante and Hughes having made way for George Waring and Elliott, the Blues bosses sensed more goals against the weary visitors.

And a fourth goal duly arrived on 78 minutes when Roberts' fine lofted cross from the right was glanced home by Elliott - the Aston Villa academy product's first of the season.

It was so nearly five-nil two minutes later when Jackson raced through on goal but his shot was well saved by Hall.

A solid defensive display looked set to yield another clean sheet for Chester, particularly when Blues stopper Russ Griffiths produced an acrobatic save to deny Hanley.

But there was a late consolation for the visitors as defender Jordan Cullinane-Liburd headed home from close range from the resultant corner.

Only a last-ditch goal line clearance in injury-time denied Jackson the goal his performance deserved.

This was a vintage display from the resurgent Blues, who are seemingly growing in belief and quality with each passing week.