THERE was cause for double celebration at a sun-drenched Exacta Stadium as Chester opened up a potentially decisive six-point lead at the top of Evo-Stik League First Division North.
A second-half brace from Michael Wilde ensured the long-time leaders returned to winning ways, but also meant they took full advantage of second-placed Skelmersdale United’s loss at Chorley.
And it was no less than Neil Young’s men deserved after a performance that underlined why they have been out in front in the title race since October.
With the recalled Michael Aspin and Chris Williams operating effectively as wing-backs in a new-look 3-5-2 formation, the Blues were at it from the off and they could count themselves unfortunate not to be at least a goal to the good going into the break.
Chris Simm headed over when well placed from one of a number of early Iain Howard corners before Wilde steered a Chris Williams centre just past the post.
Chester’s delivery – both from open play and set-pieces – was exceptional throughout and Greg Stones came desperately close to breaking the deadlock in the 40th minute when he headed another pinpoint Howard corner on to the bar.
Former Chester City goalkeeper Phil Palethorpe was well beaten, but he kept his side in it moments later with a stunning point-blank stop from Simm.
Chester continued where they left off after the restart and only Howard will know how he managed to fire over with just Palethorpe to beat after being picked out in the box by Aspin.
Lairds were hanging on but their resistance was ended in the 54th minute thanks to yet another quality finish from Wilde.
The consistently impressive Aspin was the architect as he headed a deep Chris Williams cross back into the path of the league’s leading scorer, who turned on a sixpence and smashed in from 10 yards out.
Smelling blood, the Blues pushed for a killer second and, after Bradley Barnes went close from distance, only Palethorpe prevented Wilde from putting a finishing touch to a stirring solo run.
But Wilde was not to be denied and he settled the contest 11 minutes from time with his 36th goal of the season.
What a fine goal it was too. Howard did well to keep the ball in play and even better to find the excellent Simm, who skipped past his marker before dinking a pass across goal that strike-partner Wilde stooped to head home from two yards out.
And that was the way it stayed although Adam Judge had to make saves from Anthony Lipson and Tom McGill to guarantee his 10th clean sheet in 16 games.
Chester: Judge, Aspin, Taylor, Ruffer, Stones, C Williams (Beck 73), Barnes, A Williams (Powell 85), Howard, Wilde, Simm (Booth 90). Subs: Wilson, Barlow.
Goals: Wilde 54, 79.
Cammell Laird: Palethorpe, Simon, Clampitt, Edison, Riley, McGill, Stewart, Andrews, Lipson (Odukomaya 87), Hammond (Parle 62), Bowen (Evason 74). Subs: Speare.
Referee: Gary Hilton (Lancashire).