Match-winner John Rooney and captain Matty Brown won praise from manager Steve Burr after the Blues defeated promotion hopefuls Gateshead 1-0.

Rooney got the decisive goal on 68 minutes, a sweet strike from the edge of the area that flew past keeper Adam Bartlett, and Brown never put a foot wrong in the heart of defence, leading his manager to compare him with two-time European Cup winner Larry Lloyd.

Gateshead had a strong case for deserving something from the game but some courageous defending, the post and an outstanding Jon Worsnop save kept them out.

Burr said: “It was a great finish from John but that’s what he’s capable of doing. That’s the type of quality he can bring to a game and I’m really delighted to get the three points because I think Gateshead are the best side I’ve seen this season.

"Both sides want to play out from the back and try to start with the ball and finish with the ball ending up in the back of the net.

“Gateshead are a good side and we had to do things tactically at half time to nullify their three in the middle and I thought it worked very well for us.

“Browny reminds me very much of Larry Lloyd, the younger ones won’t remember Larry Lloyd, but he was  a no nonsense centre half.

“Michael Kay was available but it shows that if lads go in and perform then you’re going to have to bide your time getting back in the team.

“Michael has been outstanding for us this season but he got himself suspended and Matty has come in and done very, very well and that’s what you want from your players.”

Gateshead had lost once in 14 games before this defeat and made a strong start at the Swansway Chester Stadium with decent openings for Phil Turnbull and Matty Pattison.

Chester could have had a penalty on 15 minutes when James Curtis clipped Craig Hobson’s heels but were on the back foot for most of the first half.

Alex Rodman caused problems on the wing and the Heed were bossing the midfield but the Blues defended well to get to half time level.

Burr switched things around for the second half and the introduction of Ibou Toray made life more difficult for the Heed, and enabled Chester to gain a greater foothold in the game.

Rooney had forced Bartlett into action with a well-hit free kick but the keeper had no chance with his swerving shot on 68 minutes after good work from Rhys Oates and Craig Mahon.

Gateshead poured forward late on with Carl Finngan heading against the post and Worsnop producing a top class stop from Jon Shaw.

Curtis was sent off in time added on for two bookings after a bad challenge on Josh O’Keefe and the Blues had the game won.

Burr said: “I think it was pleasing where we had to do things a little bit different

“You’re not always going to try and beat teams by passing them off the par, but Gateshead were very quick to close us down and stop us playing which they did

“I know we’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us and I’ve always said that but for us it’s about getting stronger and improving, and I think we’re doing that so that’s very pleasing.

“To come up against a side like Gateshead, who in my opinion will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, shows the progress we are making.”

Burr gave O'Keefe and Oates starts for the first time and the pair, signed on loan before the midweek loss to Macclesfield Town, both did well.

Oates' pace and persistence troubled the Heed's centre halves throughout and O'Keefe grew into the game well and looked capable of forging a good partnership with the ever-impressive Kingsley James.

Burr said: "I think Rhys will be ready to sleep for a week after the shift he has put in but he showed that pace in behind and the threat he can be, he's a great addition to us and we're pleased to have him.

"That was Josh's first game since I think four weeks ago and he'll get stronger and I think how we play will suit him and it's good to have that type of competition now for places

"We were missing Sean McConville who's been very influential this season and we've got Matty Hughes coming back now which is great and we look a lot stronger when our best players are available."

Burr had praise for his goalkeeper too as Worsnop, whose nightmare start to the season had some fans writing him off after only one game, continued his excellent form.

Worsnop made a number of important stops in the game but his late save from Shaw was right out of the top drawer.

"I said to him as usual that's what he's there for but he's been terrific and I think Jon's enjoying it," said Burr.

"He knew the beginning of the season was a rocky start for him but he's been superb for us and it was an unbelievable save."