CHESTER hauled themselves up to fourth and within two points of top spot with a comfortable victory in atrocious conditions at a rain-lashed Hurst Cross.
Chris Simm gave Neil Young’s men a dream first-minute start before top-scorer Matty McGinn struck to seal a success over an Ashton side for whom it was a first home defeat of the season.
Blues boss Young said: “It was a very professional performance and I was particularly pleased to keep a second straight clean sheet.
“John Danby’s had to make a couple of saves early on, but on chances I thought we definitely deserved to win.
“ I’m very happy with the lads as this is a very difficult place to come. They’ve worked ever so hard in swirling winds and teeming rain.”
Downpours throughout the day had put the game in doubt, so the last thing an already poor pitch needed was a pre-match downpour of biblical proportions.
The consequences became clear straight from the kick-off as Simm took advantage of a defensive slip to put unchanged Chester in front inside 23 seconds.
Kyle Harrop would have had a chance of intercepting Iain Howard’s through pass had it not been for the slippery surface. But the right-back lost his footing and man-of-the-moment Simm did the rest, racing down the left before cutting inside and curling a right-footed shot past Terry Smith.
Smith denied the same player moments later before John Danby made two good saves to keep out Danny Lambert and Chris Amadi in a frenetic start.
To their credit, both sides never tried to stop playing passing football and Smith had to be on his toes to tip over a dipping McGinn free kick.
The left-back has established himself as an integral part of the Blues’ starting line-up and it was his 38th-minute penalty that put daylight between the sides.
Former Ashton midfielder Howard was brought down in the box by Ged Murphy and McGinn sent Smith the wrong way to score his fourth goal – and third spot kick – in five matches since signing on loan from Southport.
The visitors continued where they left off at the start of the second half and only a flying stop from Smith prevented a spectacular Simm overhead kick from arrowing into the net.
Unmarked and just six yards out, Simm should have given Smith no chance with a header shortly after.
But the in-form striker was not made to pay as Chester played out the rest of game without truly ever being in danger of conceding.
Ashton: Smith, Harrop, Frost, Rimmer, Rose (Dawson 58), Murphy (Smith 70), Bennett, Wright (Bathurst 80), Burns, Amadi, Lambert. Subs: Cahill, Madeley.
Chester: Danby, Brownhill, Taylor, Horan, McGinn, Booth (Barnes 83), Smith, Powell, Howard, Simm (Reed 81), McNeil (Rainford 65). Subs: Brown, Baynes.
Goals: Simm 1, McGinn 38pen.
Referee: Paul Marsden (Lancashire).