Chester City 4, Aldershot 2: THE game that had everything - six goals, a penalty and two red cards - was a glowing advertisement for the Conference and endorsed what we knew already - that Chester City are the best team in the league.
It's wise to stop short of assuming they are also champions in waiting, because there are still four matches left, but the confidence in Mark Wright's squad is so high that it is difficult to see them stumbling at the final hurdles and, anyway, are there enough teams left in the fixture list who believe they can stop City's march to the title?
Chester, in front of the Hereford and Exeter management, were a team impatient to get the job done. Phil Bolland took less than two minutes to set out their stall when he stole in to head home Jamie Heard's cross after the midfielder had taken a return pass from Daryl Clare.
City were irresistible as Michael Twiss looked a certain scorer moment later, his header from Clare's cross being saved by the outstretched leg of stranded Shots goalkeeper Nikki Bull. But it was only a reprieve for the visitors.
After 10 minutes, Darryn Stamp put Clare through and the Conference's top marksman calmly slotted in his 27th goal of the season. Game over?
Hardly. It was a measure of Aldershot's quality and resilience that they made a rapid response by putting hearts in Chester mouths as skipper Ray War-burton forced the outstanding Shaun Carey to clear off his own goal-line following a corner.
And it was Carey who produced a breathtaking moment on 26 minutes when he unleashed a piledriver from 20 yards, which had goal written all over it until Bull took off to tip the ball away for a corner.
Aldershot are not promotion contenders for nothing and they clawed their way back when Adam Miller fired across a corner which caused confusion in the City goalmouth, and the ball somehow found its way directly into the net. Not a happy moment for Chester's rookie goalkeeper Iain Turner or his co-defenders, but the goal served only to bring the best out of Chester.
The interval was timely for Chester to regroup and it didn't take long to once again assert their authority. After 57 minutes, a cross from Scott Guyett was met by Twiss, whose shot came back off the spot and Bolland was there to rifle home the third goal.
Ten minutes later, Heard was brought down in the box by Jon Challinor and Clare stepped up to fire home the penalty to produce a three-goal cushion.
Aldershot were still not finished, though, and Will Antwi set up substitute Lee Charles on 76 minutes to shoot Aldershot back into the game.
A terrific match ended on a sour note when Dean Hooper's challenge on Kevin McIntyre produced a reaction from the City defender and both players were sent off.
Said Wright: 'I thought for the first 45 minutes we were exceptional. We played some unbelievable football and we were after them.
'Aldershot are one of the best sides we have played and it was tough, but the major plus is that we won the game and took three points.'
Chester: Turner, Collins, Guyett, Heard (Elam 90), Bolland, Carden, McIntyre, Twiss, Clare, Carey (Lane 90), Stamp (Davies 90).
Sent off: McIntyre. Booked. Bolland, Guyett.
Aldershot: Bull, Hooper, Sterling, Downer (Chewins 70), Warburton, Challinor (Charles 72), Miller, Antwi, Gosling, Sills, D'Sane. Subs: Barnard, Nutter.
Sent off: Hooper. Booked: Charles. Referee: R Booth.