Chester FC began the 2015-16 season with a hard-earned three points, overcoming a stubborn Braintree Town outfit 1-0.
The game was just four minutes old when the Blues scored the first goal of the 2015-16 National League season through Johnny Hunt.
The left-back collected a short corner from John Rooney and drove into the box, checking inside three defenders and curling his shot around keeper Will Norris and in off the post.
Braintree then gained a foothold in the game, restricting Chester's effectiveness and forcing Jon Worsnop into a couple of saves from distance.
Chester seized back the initiative at the end of the half with Norris getting down well to keep out Rooney's free-kick as the Blues went in 1-0 ahead.
Braintree continued to frustrate the Blues in the second period and should have drawn level on the hour when Dan Sparkes got behind the defence but Worsnop made an excellent stop.
Chester needed a second to relieve the pressure and almost got it when Jordan Chapell's strike flew past Norris before rebounding off the upright.
Braintree continued to force the game without creating too much, and needed the woodwork to save them again on 80 minutes when Rooney's shot smashed against the stanchion as Hunt's goal proved enough for the win.
Fast start: A common moan last season was Chester took too long to get going Too often the Blues would be 1-0 down or worse before coming to life, and that's a dangerous game in such a competitive division. There was no danger of that here with a quick temp, high pressing start putting Braintree on the back foot and leading to a quick goal.
Numbers game: Give credit to Braintree for coming up with a game-plan to shutdown the midfield and stifle Chester's threat. The Iron operated with five in the middle of the park and that stopped George, Shaw and Rooney from settling on the ball. As a result, the Blues had to aim long towards Craig Hobson far more than usual and couldn't get Chapell or Hannah into the game.
Heneghan and Sharps: There are 13 years between them, but this pairing are developing an excellent understanding and that blend of youth and experience will stand Chester in good stead this term. Heneghan was pretty much impeccable and the 21-year-old looks set for a fine season, while 34-year-old Sharps brings bags of experience and leadership.
Chester FC: Worsnop, Higgins, Heneghan, Sharps, Hunt, George, Shaw (Mahon 64), Rooney, Chapell (Tonge 88), Hannah, Hobson (Peers 69).
Subs: Forth, Thomson.
Goal: Hunt 4.
Booked: Shaw, Heneghan.
Braintree Town: Norris, Brundle (Walker 87), Clerima, Fry, Habergham, Miles (Cheek 69), Davis, Woodyard (Marks 81), Isaac, Akinola, Sparkes.
Subs: Paine, Phillips.
Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire)
Star man: Ben Heneghan.
A win and a clean-sheet made for a perfect start to the campaign, and these are the kind of games Chester need to win to improve on last season.
Braintree proved difficult opponents and had a decent case for deserving something from the game, without ever quite opening up the Blues enough.
As was to be expected, this was far removed from the open, free-flowing games seen in pre-season with the Iron determined to make things tough.
Chester's rapid start caught them cold and the woodwork twice prevented the visitors from Essex falling further behind so the result was the right one.
The Blues won without playing well, and that's often said to be the trait of a good team. How good? We will find out in the coming weeks and months.