If 2020 is to be the year that Chester clinch promotion from National League North then this performance certainly augured well.

A 4-0 hammering of promotion rivals Southport at the 1885 Arena came courtesy of a dominant second-half display from the home side.

Simon Grand headed the Blues in front after 36 minutes, with a second-half brace from Akwasi Asante and an Anthony Dudley strike underlining their side's dominance.

For the Blues, who began the clash in fourth place, this was their second victory over play-off hopefuls Southport in less than a week.

Bosses Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley made five changes to the Blues side who were beaten 1-0 at home by Curzon Ashton.

Matty Waters and Kevin Roberts were deployed as full-backs, with Brad Jackson restored to the midfield along with the attack-minded Anthony Dudley.

Matty Hughes was preferred up front to George Waring, the 27-year-old partnering top scorer Akwasi Asante in attack.

After a bright start from the hosts, it was Southport who fashioned the game's first opening.

It came when Reagan Ogle nipped in ahead of centre back James Jones to steal possession and dart towards goal, but his attempted ball to find on-running team mate Jack Sampson was snuffed out Chester keeper Russ Griffiths.

On 10 minutes, top-scorer Asante then tested Southport keeper Charlie Albinson with a well-struck right-footed effort from 25 yards.

The Dutch striker went even closer soon afterwards, his glancing header flashing just wide of the target following Brad Jackson's smart delivery from the right.

There was a let off for Chester midway through the half when Devarn Green got beyond Waters and sent a ball into the Chester box that reached substitute Morgan Hamson-Smith who blazed over from eight yards out.

Struggling to penetrate the the Sandgrounders' defence, Chester were limited to long-range efforts.

But an evenly-matched contest tipped in the hosts' favour on 36 minutes when Grand plundered the opener.

A corner swung in by Waters was horribly miscued by Albinson whose failed punch clearance fell to the veteran Blues centre back who powered his header home at the far post.

Southport pushed for a leveller, with Marcus Wood going closest just before the interval when his whipped free-kick from the right hand side drew a smart reaction stop from Griffiths.

Chester's marginal lead was just about merited, but they quickly turned the screw after the restart.

A breathless start to the second half saw them win a corner, which was only half-cleared by the visitors.

The ball was worked back into the box with Anthony Dudley playing in Matty Hughes whose low effort was parried by Albinson only for Asante to tuck home the rebound at close range.

With their lead doubled, the Blues began to dictate the game's tempo and produced a flurry of decent chances.

Asante twice went close to his second of the game, seeing an initial attempt thwarted by a defensive block before seeing another close-range shot saved by Albinson.

Chester's pressure was relentless and a third goal arrived in style on 68 minutes when the ball fell to Dudley on the edge of the box and the former Salford man lashed home on the half volley.

With their tails up, Chester looked hungry for more as they set about the dejected visitors.

Jackson was unlucky to see a fiercely-struck shot 25 yards out canon back off the post just after the hour mark.

A fourth goal seemed imminent and it came on 71 minutes as Asante showcased his clinical finishing ability.

Having received the ball from Jones' knock-down on the edge of the box, Asante held off two Southport defenders before pivoting and finding the bottom corner for his 16th goal of the season.

The winning margin could have been much more emphatic had Southport not closed ranks late on.

Grand saw another powerful header cleared off the line on 78 minutes before Dudley smashed the ball over the bar from another fine delivery from Waters.

Unable to conjure a fifth goal, the hosts saw out the remainder of the game with ease.

The nature of Chester's victory erased memories of the laboured defeat to Curzon days earlier, and has surely prompted renewed optimism among their success-hungry supporters.