IT was a close-run thing, but Wrexham ended more than 20 years of waiting for a home league win against cross-border neighbours Chester City at the Racecourse yesterday in a fiercely-contested clash that could have coined the phrase "a game of two halves."
The Dragons dominated the opening 45 minutes to carve out a comfortable 2-0 advantage, despite Matt Crowell's missed penalty, and looked to be well on course for a valuable three points in their pursuit of a League Two play-offs spot.
But the visitors, who entered the fray bottom of the pile and fighting for their Football League survival, produced a superb second-half fightback that deserved at least a point as the home side were made to look distinctly second-best and left them eventually delighted to hang on for all three points.
However visiting boss Mark Wright, previously on the losing side to Wrexham this season when in charge of Oxford United, had no complaints, instead bemoaning his side's inability to turn that superiority into a result.
"We started poorly and in these sort of games if you don't have players with big hearts they get trodden on," he said.. "But in the second half they did what we asked of them and we finished strongly.
"In fact we could have won it late on when Stewart Drummond had the best chance of the game, which was blocked, but over the 90 minutes I think Wrexham wanted it a little bit more.
"We had a mountain to climb at 2-0 down and, although we improved after the break, I don't think in all honesty that we deserved anything over the 90 minutes as a whole."
Wright's verdict seemed somewhat harsh but, as he also pointed out, time and games are running out for City as their disastrous run of results was extended to 15 defeats in the last 17 games.
Given the stakes, the football came a distant second to the nervous tension in the opening stages, although visiting keeper Paul Harrison was given an early touch of the ball when holding a weak effort from Matt Crowell after just two minutes.
Former Racecourse striker Jake Edwards, recruited by City during the week, looked keen to impress, his strength and enthusiasm certainly causing problems for Dragons defender Shaun Pejic in the early exchanges.
But the nerves of the home side were settled by an eighth-minute breakthrough.
And defender Danny Williams will scarcely have an easier finish than that presented to him by a static visiting defence when he rose unchallenged to meet Crowell's corner with a firm header into the roof of the net to register his third of the season.
But Wrexham failed to press home the advantage offered to them three minutes later when Sam Williams was tripped in the penalty area by Drummond.
Crowell took responsibility for the spot-kick, only to see his tame shot easily smothered by Harrison.
The miss gave the visitors a lift and, with Drummond driving his team-mates forward, they forced a couple of corners to put pressure on Mike Ingham before carving out their first genuine opening when Edwards headed a Carl Regan cross at the keeper.
And goalscorer Williams got himself in and out of trouble after 27 minutes when his attempted clearance was charged down by Michael Branch, who had a clear run on goal.
But the centre-back - not normally the quickest - did extremely well to make up the ground and put in a saving tackle to deny the former Everton striker.
With Ferguson pulling Wrexham's strings, the City back-line could not afford to give any space to strikers Matt Derbyshire and Sam Williams as the home side probed patiently for gaps and they found one in the 36th minute when Derbyshire won the ball and found Ferguson in support.
The Racecourse captain immediately slid the ball sidways to Mark Jones, whose first-time drive from 20 yards swerved viciously beyond the despairing Harrison to double the lead.
And the Dragons might well have been in clear water before the interval when Derbyshire exchanged passes with Andy Holt, but snatched at his shot, which flew high over the crossbar.
Even so, it was a long way back for City and, to their credit, they emerged from the break with renewed fire and passion, to force their opponents back in a sustained spell that caused plenty of anxiety in the Wrexham penalty area.
But they simply could not find the finishing touch, both Branch and defender Mark Allbrighton heading wide of the target from excellent corner deliveries by Davies and Drum-mond's effort then suffering the same fate.
Their efforts reduced Wrexham to a counter-attacking strategy and it was not until the 63rd minute that Dean Bennett got forward to force Harrison into a near-post save, the home side having survived a torrid examination in which Danny Williams was magnificent.
The normally lethal Derbyshire had an opportunity to relieve the pressure with 14 minutes remaining when he brushed past midfielder Drummond, but Harrison was equal to his shot from 20 yards - a miss that condemned his team-mates to more nail-biting scrutiny.
So it was no surprise when they cracked, although defender Williams must shoulder the blame.
He allowed himself to be muscled off the ball by the impressive Edwards, who then surged past Dennis Lawrence to score a fine solo goal in the 89th minute to set up a tight finish.
And when the fourth official indicated four minutes of stoppage time, the initiative was totally with City.
And Wright's side poured everything into a last-ditch attempt to get back on terms.
They went desperately close to earning a point when the irrepressible Drummond, playing as an extra striker, found the ball at his feet eight yards from goal.
An equaliser seemed inevitable until Pejic somehow managed to block the close-range effort and there was an roar of relief from the home supporters when referee Tony Leake signalled an end to the contest.
* MAN OF THE MATCH...
Danny Williams:Despite a couple of worrying slips, he was the main man
* MAGIC MOMENT...
Yet another spectacular strike from Mark Jones
WREXHAM : Ingham, Lawrence, Holt, D Williams, Ferguson, Bennett, Derbyshire, Crowell, Mark Jones, Pejic, S Williams. Subs: Michael Jones, Walters, Spender, Done, M Williams.
CHESTER CITY: Harrison, McNiven, Albrighton, Artell, Regan (Lowe 62), Ellender, Drummond, Davies, El Kholti (Rutherford 75), Edwards, Branch. Subs: Mackenzie, Hessey, Tait.
REFEREE : Mr Tony Leake (Lancashire).
ATT : 7,240.