CHESTER City players somehow put the club's political turmoil behind them to turn in a creditable performance against Second Division Port Vale on Saturday.
The fans in the sparse 254 crowd who ignored the boycott will not be naive enough to think this was the way a Conference match will be played when the season gets under way in a fortnight it was far too warm to be a full-blooded affair with nothing at stake but City gave an encouraging display and rarely looked like losing.
They had to thank goalkeeper Wayne Brown for one first-half save from Sag Burton and others after the break from Steve McPhee, Mark Bridge-Wilkinson, Steve Brooker and Liam Burns, but a goal would have been more than the visitors really deserved.
Chester were in control for most of the game and were close to breaking the deadlock on 68 minutes when Carl Ruffer powered a header against the bar from a cross by Sam Hill, son of director of football Gordon Hill.
Brooker should have beaten Brown with only the keeper to beat on 80 minutes, but he blazed over the bar and it was to prove a costly miss.
Four minutes later Steve Whitehall, a 75th-minute substitute for new striker Chris Malkin, clinically finished a neat build-up down the right between another substitute, Darren Wright, and Mark Beesley.
Chester: Brown, S Rose, M Rose, Porter, Ruffer, Lancaster, Hill, Kerr, Malkin, M Beesley, Ruscoe. Subs: Kilgannon, Woodyatt, Haarhoff, Spink, Whitehall.
Port Vale: Goodlad, Carragher, Donnelly, Brammer, Walsh, Burton, Cummins, Ingram, Brooker, McPhee, Bridge-Wilkinson. Subs: Armstrong, Dodd, O'Callaghan, Gibson, Burns.
Referee: S Matteson.