CHESTER completed a festive derby double over Droylsden to stretch their Blue Square Bet North winning run to 12 matches.
But Neil Young’s table-toppers, who ran out 5-0 winners when the teams met on Boxing Day, came close to throwing away the points.
They were three up inside the opening eight minutes thanks to strikes from Antoni Sarcevic, Craig Curran and Danny Williams.
And though James Ellison soon reduced the deficit for the relegation-threatened Bloods, the rampant Blues restored their three-goal advantage four minutes before the end of a one-sided first half thanks to full debutant Nathan Turner.
At that stage Droylsden looked dead and buried.
But they weathered an early second-half storm and set up a frantic finish after former Chester loanee Ellison struck twice late on to complete a well-taken hat-trick.
Blues boss Young, the league’s manager of the month for December, made six changes to the team that started Saturday’s 3-0 win over Hinckley United.
But it was one of the players who retained their place in his line-up who broke the deadlock, three minutes in.
It was the outstanding Sarcevic’s 12th goal of the season, his fourth in as many matches and his first since being named the league’s player of the month.
The lively Williams was the creator, bursting into the box and seeing his fiercely struck effort parried by Dale Latham.
The Droylsden defence were unable to clear the danger and Sarcevic slid in to turn the ball home with the help of the post.
Less than 60 sixty seconds later, the recalled Curran doubled the advantage.
The loan star, operating on the right side of midfield, cut inside on to his left foot and from the edge of the area arrowed an angled drive into the bottom corner.
It was Curran’s sixth goal in nine games since joining from Rochdale. Number seven should have followed moments later but he fired over after Williams pulled the ball back.
But the large travelling support did not have to wait long for the third to arrive as Sarcevic powered into the area, skipped past Latham and stood the ball up for Williams to head home his second of the campaign.
The struggling hosts hit back seven minutes later when Ellison tapped in after John Danby saved from Steve Hall.
The visitors regained control, however, and only the post denied Sarcevic after the powerhouse midfielder made another marauding run from deep.
The goal of the match followed in the 41st minute.
Turner, playing the last game of his loan spell from Leeds United, played the ball into Ben Mills.
The striker held it up well before rolling it back for Turner to curl home a beauty from 20 yards.
Williams and Curran were off target as Chester threatened a fifth after the break.
But they were unable to score again and, with captain George Horan off injured and sorely missed, they were nearly made to pay by Ellison.
The Bloods striker sidestepped substitute Dom Collins to slot in his second in the 85th minute and then showed superb skill to hook the ball over Paul Linwood and guide it past Danby for his third in injury-time.
It was all unnecessarily nervy but the Blues held on for victory number 21 from their opening 23 matches – and one that maintained their 15-point advantage over a second-placed Guiseley side who do have three games in hand.
Young confirmed after the match that he expects winger Robbie Booth – a double title winner with the club – to join Bangor City alongside midfielder Levi Mackin, whose short-term contract has not been renewed.
Young said: “We’ve given Robbie permission to speak to Bangor and I expect him to join them tomorrow.
“He’s been a fabulous player for this club. He’s a fabulous lad and we wish him all the best.”
Droylsden: Latham, Derbyshire, Kerr (Killeen 46), Langford, Palmer, Rick (Jacombs 88), Hall (Doherty 46), Sissons, Logan, O’Neill, Ellison. Subs: Bryan, Holden.
Booked: Logan, O’Neill.
Goals: Ellison 16, 85, 90.
Chester: Danby, Baynes, Horan (Collins 55), Linwood, McGinn, Curran, A Williams, Turner (M Williams 77), D Williams, Sarcevic, Mills (Jarman 66). Subs: Hankin, Howard.
Goals: Sarcevic 3, Curran 4, D Williams 8, Turner 41.
Referee: Adrian Holmes (Castleford).