Chester produced a clinical second half display to advance in their Emirates FA Cup Replay at Hanley Town.
Despite a goalless first half, a brace apiece from Kurt Willoughby and Kole Hall in the second 45 saw Calum McIntyre’s men extend their unbeaten run to eight matches and set up a 4QR tie with Oldham Athletic in the process.
The Blues boss made two changes from Saturday’s draw at the Deva, as Alex Kenyon and Iwan Murray replaced Matty Williams and Adam Thomas.
And the visitors were quick out the traps just like the weekend, with the first chance seeing the full backs combine, as Lewis Coulton headed Jamie Morgan’s cross wide.
Hanley goalkeeper Kieran Harrison, who produced a Man of the Match performance in the first tie, was at it again in this game as he made two stunning saves before the break. Firstly he did brilliantly to touch Willoughby’s close range header around the post despite appearing wrong footed, before tipping Danny Devine’s curler over the bar on the half hour mark.
The hosts sent out a warning sign of their own before the break, as Jake Avery’s initial good work produced a close range opportunity for Danny Glover who poked the ball beyond Harry Tyrer – however Captain Kenyon was back to head off the line.
Chester had an effort of their own cleared off the line just after the interval, Louis Dodds denying Harrison Burke the opener, before finally making the breakthrough on 56 minutes.
Murray’s skill and combination with Morgan released Joe Lynch – who then provided for the unmarked Willoughby to finish in typical cool fashion.
Carl Dickinson’s side had a positive spell following the opener as they looked to muster a response at Potteries Park – but James Lawrie blazed over from a good position before Tyrer saved from Dodds.
Having weathered the storm, a double substitution saw the Blues make the game safe and dominate the final 20 minutes.
Kole Hall and Declan Weeks were brought on for Lynch and Murray, and the Bermudian drove forward with his first touches on the pitch before unleashing a fantastic strike into the back of the net – leaving Harrison with no chance.
Defensive hesitancy on 83 minutes enabled Hall to make it a brace, nipping on to a loose ball and turning it into the back of the net, before Weeks supplied top scorer Willoughby a few moments later to make it a double of his own and put the icing on the cake.
CHESTER: Tyrer, Morgan, Burke, Kenyon, Coulton, Roberts (Williams 79), Devine, Lynch (Weeks 71), Murray (Hall 71), Stephenson, Willoughby.
SUBS NOT USED: Beswick, Thomas, Dudley, Daly.
SCORERS: Willoughby 56 & 87, Hall 71 & 83.