Chester secured an important home win, as well as keeping a clean sheet, against Southport tonight.
A strong start to the second half was capped off by an excellent goal for Kole Hall from a Harry McHugh free kick, while the closest the visitors came to an equaliser was a Charlie Munro header that came off the post.
Blues boss Calum McIntyre made two changes to the side that made the remarkable comeback against King’s Lynn just over a week ago.
Kieran Coates and new loan signing McHugh both came into the starting line-up in place of Matty Williams and Liam Edwards.
The opening chance of the contest went to the visitors as Dylan Vassallo’s corner was met by Jack Bainbridge but Stephenson was back to block it but it fell to Vassallo again but he couldn’t trouble Harry Tyrer in the Blues’ goal.
Chester had big appeals for a penalty waved away after ten minutes as Hall went down under the sliding dive of ‘keeper Tony McMillan.
Referee Michael Crusham blew his whistle but to the frustration of Blues supporters proceeded to book Hall and award Southport a free kick.
The Sandgrounders’ height and physicality was causing Chester’s defence all sorts of problems and almost lead to the opening goal as Connor Woods snuck between ‘keeper and defender to flick a header beyond Tyrer but, fortunately for the Blues, wide of the goal.
Chester had a huge chance to take the lead on the stroke of half time as first Willougby then Hall forced saves from McMillan. Willoughby broke the back line before McMillan pushed his effort away before Murray lay the ball off to Hall but the ‘keeper was able to save with his feet to keep the score goalless at half time.
The Blues started the second half brightly as Hall picked out Stephenson in space down the left, he picked out the overlapping run of Coulton who saw his effort parried by McMillan and run away from Hall as Southport scrambled clear.
The pressure paid off though as Chester took the lead in the fifty-third minute as a spectacular free kick from debutant McHugh picked out Hall, who chested the ball and finished emphatically.
Moments later and McHugh almost turned provider again as he set Stephenson away but his effort deflected into the hands of McMillan.
At the other end of the pitch Southport looked for an equaliser as Hmami got time on the edge of the penalty area but Tyrer made a good save from his curling effort before making an even better one with one hand to smother the rebound.
Southport almost found an equaliser out of nowhere as substitute Munro’s header struck the post with Tyrer rooted to the spot.
Chester were much improved in the second half though and looked the side more likely to score, Hall did superbly again to beat two before his cut-back was turned behind for a corner. From that resulting corner the ball was headed to Dudley on the edge of the penalty area but his dipping volley was just over the bar.
Southport searched for a way back into the game but Chester managed the game well in order to secure the three points.
CHESTER: Tyrer, Coulton, Burke, Kenyon, Stephenson (Dudley 73), Willoughby, Devine, Coates, Murray (Roberts 45), Hall, McHugh (Williams 90+4).
SUBS NOT USED: Morgan, Heywood.
SCORERS: Hall 53.