CHESTER moved within a point of lifting the league title after they stretched their winning run to nine matches with a hard-fought victory at Bracken Moor.
A draw in Monday’s mouthwatering top-of-the-clash at home to Northwich Victoria (3pm) will see the Blues be crowned champions following their win in South Yorkshire.
Early Chris Simm and Robbie Booth strikes ultimately ensured Neil Young’s men moved 11 points clear at the summit with four games to play.
They were made to fight all the way, however, by a spirited Stocksbridge side desperately fighting against relegation.
It was Simm who opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a wonderfully assured finish.
Racing on to a threaded through pass from Booth, the in-form striker skipped past the advancing Ben Scott before slotting goal number 11 of the season into the bottom corner from a difficult angle.
It got better for Chester in the 18th minute when Booth got the goal his first-half performance deserved.
Scott did well to turn an ambitious 30-yard Matty McGinn shot around the post but the Stocksbridge keeper was picking the ball out of his net seconds later.
A deep Wes Baynes corner was headed back into the danger area by George Horan to Michael Taylor. The excellent centre-back looked up before touching the ball back to the waiting Booth, who with the aid of a deflection rifled in his sixth goal of the campaign from 18 yards.
Scott called on the officials to rule the effort out as he felt there were two Blues players standing in offside positions.
His protests were waved away but, to their credit, the hosts responded well to the setback, Jack Muldoon curling just over with the outside of his right foot before Matt Glennon saved from Anthony Tansley.
Stocksbridge continued where they left off after the restart and it came as no surprise when they halved the deficit in the 52nd minute.
After Glennon had made a flying stop to deny lively substitute Scott Hogan, Daryl Weston turned the ball home from 10 yards after the resulting corner was not cleared.
Chester, who lost Simm to injury after he was brought down outside the area by Scott, were becoming increasingly edgy.
Booth should have calmed their nerves when the recalled Marc Williams rolled the ball across the box but the winger could only side-foot wide of the post.
That set the scene for a frantic finish in which Stocksbridge, despite mounting pressure, were unable to force an equaliser.
Stocksbridge: Scott, Weston, Haigh, McGiven (Hogan 33), Whitehouse, Stirrup, Tansley (Coleman 80), Telling, Callery, Muldoon, Turner (Denton 70). Subs: Harrison, Collinge.
Booked: Scott, Whitehouse.
Goal: Weston 52.
Chester: Glennon, Baynes, Horan, Taylor, McGinn, Booth, A Williams (Brown 64), Powell, Wright (Sarcevic 80), Simm (Howard 53), M Williams. Subs: Brownhill, Mackin.
Booked: McGinn, Brown.
Goals: Simm 6, Booth 18.
Referee: Richard Bartlett (Sale).