CHESTER FC left it late to grab all three points in Wednesday's home clash against Corby Town to extend their lead at the top of the Blue Square Conference North to four points.
The home side were untroubled in the first half and completely controlled possession in the midfield.
They could have taken the lead as early as the first minute when striker Tony Gray narrowly fired wide.
But it was the returning left-winger Matty McGinn who broke the deadlock, clinically striking a low shot past Corby keeper Paul Walker with a quarter of an hour gone, following excellent build-up play from captain George Horan and Scott Brown.
The Blues should have capitalised on their dominance and it was Tony Gray who starred with a succession of chances, but the closest he came was striking the bottom of the post with 20 minutes gone, the ball being fed to him by Nathan Jarman.
Corby's only chance of note came out of the blue, as ex-Chester City loanee Ryan Semple hit a fine effort from 30 yards, his shot sailing inches wide.
The second half saw the visitors come back into the game as Chester became noticeably more sloppy in giving the ball away.
Corby made the pressure count as Avelino Vierra chipped the ball for Liam Hughes to head home on 70 minutes.
Chester reasserted their authority on the match and when Corby defender Carl Piergianni was sent off for a second yellow after cynically taking down Jarman near the box, the home side sensed a great chance to finish the game.
Up stepped substitute Iain Howard to take the resulting free kick, with Dave Hankin hammering the ball into the net on 88 minutes.
Chester held their nerve in the remaining few moments to notch up their 14th league win out of the first 16 games.
Chester: Danby, Denson, McGinn (Howard 76), Horan, Collins, Brown, Curran (Mills 74), D Williams, Jarman, Gray (Hankin 68), A Williams.
Subs not used: Linwood, M Williams.
Goals: McGinn (15), Hankin (88).
Corby: Walker, Galinski, Crowe, Malone (Horne 41), Pierganni, McGowan, Semple, Wedderburn, Hughes, Ives, Vierra (McKenzie 81).
Subs not used: Webb, Richardson, Manga.
Referee: Mr M Birstow.