CHAMPIONS Chester rounded off an unprecedented season with a fortuitous win at an emotion-tinged St George’s Lane.
The match, watched by the biggest Blue Square Bet North crowd of the campaign (4,072), was Worcester’s last at their century-old ground.
But the Blues did their best to spoil the party by securing their 34th success of a record-breaking Blue Square Bet North season.
Never before has a team gone on as long an unbeaten run (30), racked up as many points (107), victories (34) and goals (103) or lost as few games (3).
George Horan was the match-winner for Neil Young’s tired but battling side, who played the whole of the second half with 10 men after Matty McGinn was sent off.
Worcester will play their football 13 miles up the A449 at Kidderminster Harriers in 2013-14 after their 108-year-old home was sold for redevelopment.
With no set date for a return to the city, Carl Heeley’s men were determined to give their supporters the perfect send off.
They made the worst possible start.
There were six minutes on the clock when Horan met a Dave Hankin cross to take his tally for the term up to six.
The Blues captain’s header was a good one, low and hard into the ground, but Matt Sargeant will feel he would have done better had he been fully fit.
Worcester’s goalkeeping crisis meant Sargeant was forced to play in spite of a thigh injury that meant he had to take goal kicks with his unfavoured left foot.
It came as a disappointment then that the depleted visitors – aiming to return to winning ways after three games without a victory – failed to trouble Sargeant again in the opening period.
Instead it was the hosts who did most of the running.
They should have been level in the 29th minute when Matt Birley robbed the dallying Dom Collins and fed the ball through to Mike Symons.
The striker had time and space to pick his spot but, with just Danby to beat, he lost his composure.
It was the not the first time the Blues had lost the ball in a dangerous position – and it would not be the last.
At least loan star Danny Williams – who is on the verge of joining Scottish Premier League high flyers Inverness Caledonian Thistle – used the speed Young will miss next season to get back and deny Kieron Morris a certain goal after he lost possession in midfield.
Up until that point Danby had not had a save to make, although that changed in the 44th minute when he back-tracked to make an excellent stop from Matt Breeze’s speculative but well-struck 30-yard effort.
Moments later full debutant Tom Peers – the 17-year-old one of three changes to the side that started the 1-1 draw at FC Halifax Town less than 48 hours earlier – played a sharp one-two with Marc Williams and saw his cross just evade Iain Howard.
However just when it seemed Chester would finish the first half on the front foot, McGinn was sent off for a late tackle on Tom Thorley.
The momentum was now firmly with Worcester, although they went desperately close to falling further behind shortly after the hour mark.
A delightful pass from Peers’ replacement Tony Gray found Marc Williams, who pulled the ball back for the incoming Howard.
The fans’ favourite – playing his last game for the club – had the goal in his sights but his close-range shot came back off the post.
The West Midlands outfit also hit the woodwork later in the half after Ethan Moore latched on to fellow substitute Daniel Williams’ perfectly weighted through pass.
Moore had two other opportunities to the net the equaliser his team – and the occasion – deserved, his best coming when he side-footed wide from six yards out.
Worcester: Sargeant, Weir, Khan (Moore 59), Thorley, Whitehead, Rowe, Birley (Williams 71), Elvins, Symons (Taylor 64), Breeze, Morris. Subs: Ayres, Smith.
Chester: Danby, Hankin (Baynes 30), Horan, Collins (Linwood 46), D Williams, A Williams, Howard, McGinn, Peers (Gray 59), Jarman, M Williams. Subs: J Roberts, Fearon.
Sent off: McGinn 45.
Goal: Horan 8.
Referee: Simon Barrow (Staffordshire).