THE Blues withstood a determined second-half fightback from high-flying Darlington this afternoon to register their first home win of 2008.
City did their survival chances the world of good with a battling victory, handing Simon Davies his first three points since he took over as manager at the start of the month.
The hosts got off to the perfect start when Paul Rutherford blasted home a precise sixth-minute shot after Darlington had failed to clear their lines following a cross from the right by Kevin Roberts.
Chester doubled their advantage nine minutes before the break through Richie Partridge, who was making a welcome return to the side following an injury lay-off. The winger collected a neat pass from Chris Holroyd on the left and drove into the penalty area before curling a superb right-footed shot beyond the reach of Quakers keeper David Stockdale.
Darlington made a fight of it in the second-half and their chances of victory were enhanced when Blues keeper John Danby was forced off with a head injury after he was knocked out cold in an aerial collision. Although Danby regained consciousness and played on for a few minutes, he was eventually replaced by rookie keeper Phil Palethorpe on advice from the club doctor.
Quakers skipper Steve Foster pulled a goal back six minutes from time to set up a frantic finale, but Chester worked tirelessly to preserve their lead and almost snatched a third goal when sub Paul McManus hit the crossbar from close range.
Blues boss Davies reported after the match that striker Holroyd had been forced off at half time with a badly gashed Achilles, making him a major doubt for Easter Monday’s trip to Peterborough.
Chester: Danby (Palethorpe 70), Roberts, Butler, Linwood, Wilson, Partridge (Sandwith 65), Dinning, Hughes, Rutherford, Holroyd (McManus 46), Murphy. Subs: Rule, Kelly. Booked: Rutherford.
Goals: Rutherford 6, Partridge 36.
Darlington: Stockdale, Austin (Valentine 80), White, Foster, Parker, Kennedy, Cummins (Foran 46), Purdie, Joachim, Wright, Abbott (Blundell 68). Subs: Liversidge, Miller.
Booked: Stockdale, Foster.
Goal: Foster 84.
Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire).