CHESTER City ended Morecambe's 15-month unbeaten home record to go top of the Conference table after a late Daryl Clare strike earned all three points at Christie Park.
In a game that lacked any real cutting edge, Mark Wright's men showed strong character and a real togetherness to gain the much-needed victory from a match that was contested mainly in the middle third of the pitch.
Daryl Clare's scrambled winner, his first league goal in open play this season, 14 minutes from time, sent the 300 or so City fans home happy and helped dispel thoughts of Saturday's disappointing FA Cup exit.
The decisive goal was the game's only move of any real quality. John Brady did well down the right to find Darren Stamp with a pinpoint cross, and his knockdown was gleefully finished off from inside the six-yard box by strike partner Clare.
Marshalled well by Danny Collins, CarlRuffer and Phil Bolland, the City goal was never under much pressure. The closest the home side came was in the first half. On 34 minutes, a well-struck shot from Wayne Curtis took the slightest of deflections off Ruffer and hit Ian McCaldon's post.
City were to strike the woodwork themselves when, on the stroke of half-time, when Ben Davies let fly from 25 yards only to see the ball come crashing back off the bar with Morecambe keeper Craig Mawson well beaten.
Wright was forced into a substitution at the break when Ian McCaldon, who had tweaked a groin in the opening period, was replaced by Wayne Brown.
The second half was becoming increasingly scrappy, not helped by persistent rain which made the pitch particularly slippery.
As thoughts began to turn towards a goalless draw, Morecambe boss Jim Harvey made a double change as he sought the all-important goal. But within 60 seconds, it was City who clinched it as Clare nipped in to break the deadlock right under the noses of the visiting fans.
Substitute keeper Brown was never really called upon until the six additional minutes of time when he did well to deny Jim Bentley's close-range header. Ruffer was then on hand to head Bentley's second attempt off the line.
In addition to the valuable three points, another plus from the night was the neat and tidy debut of Alex Smith, who barely put a foot wrong on his return to the Blues side.
The ex-Port Vale and Reading man showed on several occasions just why he has spent much of his career playing at a higher level as he maintained possession well as part of a five-man midfield.
At the full-time whistle, the relief on the players' faces was evident. With the travelling fans fully aware of Hereford's defeat at Accrington, the team left the field to a beating drum and chants of 'We are top of the league'. Sweet music, no doubt, to the ears of Wright.
Morecambe (4-4-2): Mawson, Perkins, Bentley, Stringfellow, Curtis (Rogan 75), Thompson, Swan (Hunter 75), Carlton (Murphy 88), Collins, Walmsley, Garnett. Subs:Howell,Sugden. Booked: Carlton (54).
Chester (3-5-2): McCaldon (Brown 45), Ruffer, Bolland, Collins, Brady, Davies, Carden, Smith (Guyett 90), McIntyre, Stamp, Clare (Foster 80). Subs: Twiss, Rapley.
Booked: McIntyre (86).
Referee: S Brand.