A BOOKMAKER has declared the Blue Square Bet North championship race over after Chester stretched their lead at the top to 16 points.
Blue Square will pay out on all bets placed on Neil Young’s side to win the title as a result of their hard-fought victory at Corby and Guiseley’s 2-0 defeat at resurgent Vauxhall Motors.
That is despite the fact second-placed Guiseley still have three games in hand to cut the gap.
The Blues made light of a difficult pitch to take a deserved two-goal lead into half-time courtesy of Dave Hankin and Nathan Jarman.
Corby, fourth from bottom and desperate for points, made a fight of it after the break but Paul Malone’s injury-time header proved too little, too late.
The result means Chester have gone an incredible 21 games without defeat, which equals the league record set by Eastwood Town in 2011.
Blues boss Young spent the week in the lead up to the clash attempting to sign a right midfielder to provide cover and competition for Hankin.
His search may have proved in vain but it certainly had the desired effect as it was Hankin who opened the scoring in the 13th minute.
Jarman was the provider, racing down the left flank before cutting back on to his right foot.
His cross into the box was a good one and Hankin left his marker for dead to send a precise downward header beyond Walker.
The former Kidderminster Harriers man also played a key role in the crucial goal that followed four minutes later.
He chipped a delightful pass into the path of Marc Williams, whose looped cross from just inside the area found Matty McGinn.
McGinn – playing ahead of Danny Williams at left-midfield – showed awareness to cushion a header down to Jarman.
The striker’s first effort was saved but he rifled in his second to take his tally for the term up to 14.
Jarman’s strike-partner, the recalled Marc Williams, should have extended the advantage in the 25th minute but he got his touch all wrong after his namesake, the excellent Danny Williams, delivered an inch-perfect pass.
It could have proved costly as battling Corby had chances.
In added time at the end of the first half John Danby was forced into action after Josh Moreman met a Ryan Semple centre and saw his header deflect off the back of Wes Baynes.
The Chester goalkeeper went on to deny Moreman in the second half, too, keeping out a stinging free kick and a fiercely struck shot from the lively left-winger.
Moreman also fired over a cross that George Horan turned on to his own bar.
The Blues, who lost top scorer Antoni Sarcevic to a thigh injury that will rule him out for up to 10 days, were happy to protect what they had.
They did, however, go close to getting a killer third goal when Jarman’s curling free kick was turned past the post by Walker.
Corby refused to surrender and they reduced the deficit when Malone beat Danby to a Sam Ives free kick.
Corby: Walker, Ives, Malone, Crowe, Richardson, Webb (Bryan 85), Wedderburn, Semple (Kaziboni 72), McGowan, Moreman, Vieira. Subs: Cuffy, Manga, Greer.
Goal: Malone 90.
Chester: Danby, Baynes (Collins 70), Horan, Linwood, McGinn, Hankin, Sarcevic (Brown 50), N Turner, D Williams, M Williams, Jarman (Gray 87). Subs: Mills, Howard.
Goals: Hankin 13, Jarman 17.
Referee: Stephen Ross (Boston).