Chester City 0, York City 1

DAN Maguire, nicknamed “Nipper”, scored his first York City goal to pinch a precious three points at National League North promotion rivals Chester.

The former Blyth Spartans hot-shot would have expected to open his account long before the tail-end of October, but his decisive 57th-minute strike was worth the wait – settling a tight top-of-the-table clash that saw the Minstermen move five points clear of their nearest rivals having played a game less.

It also ensured Steve Watson’s men extended their incredible undefeated run to a 19th contest.

Maguire rightly deserved the plaudits for taking the crucial chance in a game of very few clear-cut opportunities, but the foundation for the victory was another clean sheet – the ninth already of a miserly season.

City were marshalled in typically superb fashion by skipper Steve McNulty and Chester were restricted to just one shot on target all afternoon when they threw caution to the wind and attacked in numbers during the final 20 minutes of an intriguing encounter.

The hosts had earlier dominated possession during the opening exchanges with former Port Vale midfielder Gary Roberts spraying passes across the pitch and left-back Joel Taylor repeatedly carrying the game to City down the flank.

David Ferguson and Sean Newton were both called upon to make key clearances just in front of their own goal during that spell but, despite Chester’s positive start, the only attempts on the Minstermen’s goal in the first half saw Matty Hughes curl well wide from the edge of the penalty box and Taylor smack a long-range shot against the roof of the stand.

City’s only real threat during the opening half-hour, meanwhile, came from eight-goal top-scorer Alex Kempster.

The former Whitley Bay attacker’s run from deep was crudely halted by cautioned home centre-back Simon Grand and he went on to glance just wide of the near post with his head from a left-wing Newton cross.

That 27th-minute opportunity was the visitors’ first of the match and, at the other end, Taylor was probably penalised for his own honesty when he elected to stay on his feet after the tormented Kallum Griffiths appeared to have a nibble at him.

Following another dangerous raid by Taylor, there was a spot of respite when Andy Bond’s skewed low shot found Kempster, but he could not adjust his feet sufficiently to guide the ball between the sticks instead of wide of Russ Griffiths’ left-hand upright.

Newton, meanwhile, cleared the crossbar from 30 yards after he had been found by Ferguson from City’s first corner of the afternoon on 41 minutes and the half subsequently finished with neither keeper having dirtied their gloves.

Attacking their own supporters, the Minstermen made a positive start to the second period with Kempster and Ferguson crosses posing early problems.

Kempster also headed wide from a Griffiths centre and, after George Glendon had curled well over for Chester, Maguire broke the deadlock just before the hour.

The England 'C' international displayed immaculate balance to control Kempster’s cross from the left with one touch before prodding a five-yard effort past home keeper Griffiths.

Kempster might have got on the scoresheet himself moments later but scuffed his shot, allowing covering home defender Danny Livesey to clear before the ball crossed the line.

For Chester, a hopeful Hughes attempt drifted well wide from 20 yards and the hosts continued to be limited to long-range strikes with sub Danny Elliott’s drive being gathered by Peter Jameson for his first and only save of the match on 76 minutes.

The lively Elliott also saw a shot deflected away from goal by Andy Bond and Antony Dudley sliced wastefully wide on the turn whilst a succession of dangerous balls flashed across the Minstermen’s six-yard box.

As the 90-minute mark approached, a stretching Kempster could not direct his header low enough to trouble the home goal from Griffiths’ right-wing delivery, but it didn’t matter as Watson’s players held on to prolong an unbeaten run dating back to Good Friday.

York City: Jameson 7, Tait 8, McNulty 9, Newton 8, Griffiths 7, Moke 8, Bond 8, Kempster 8, Ferguson 8, Burrow 7, Maguire 8 (Green, 75). Subs not used: Durrell, McFarlane, Spratt, Whitley.

Goals: Maguire.

Star man: McNulty.

Chester: Griffiths, K Roberts (Morgan, 78), Livesey, Grand, Taylor, Jackson, G Roberts, Glendon, Stopforth (Elliott, 69), Dudley, Hughes (Waring, 68). Subs not used: Waters, Burton.

Referee: Nathanael Cox.

Attendance: 3,653.