YORK City boss Steve Watson admitted a crucial 1-0 victory at National League North promotion rivals Chester proved his team’s “hardest” win of the season.

The Minstermen moved five points clear of their nearest rivals after Dan Maguire’s 57th-minute goal settled matters in a tight top-of-the-table contest and still have a game in hand on their hosts.

Watson, though, was full of praise for the challenge Chester posed at the final whistle for his high-flying team, who are now unbeaten in 19 games.

“It was the hardest we have had to work for a win all season – harder than against King’s Lynn and harder than against Stockport from the division above,” the City boss declared.

“It was a fantastic win in the end, because they are a really good side and you could see why they have scored so many goals.

“They have good movement and are very forward thinking. We rode our luck a couple of times and had spells without the ball.

“We didn’t win enough second balls and didn’t get a foothold in the game but, in the second half, we started playing like we do at home.

"It wasn’t always pretty, but there are different ways to win a game and we managed to get the points.”

City will now open up an eight-point gap at the summit if they can beat Boston United at Bootham Crescent on Tuesday night, but Watson is refusing to look any further than that next challenge, pointing out: “We’re not even in November yet, so there’s a lot of football still to be played.

“I’m not underplaying this win, but it won’t stand for anything if we take our foot off the gas in the next game and Boston will want to come to Bootham and put on a good show.

"But the players are really hungry and desperate to get out of this league and nobody will be losing that, because we’ve got great players waiting to come in - Nathan Dyer and Paddy McLaughlin weren’t even stripped for this match.”

Watson also hailed ex-Blyth marksman Maguire’s first goal in City colours following an injury-interrupted start to his Bootham Crescent career.

The City chief added: “It was a Dan Maguire-type goal and that’s what we knew he was capable of when we brought him to the club.

"He’s very bright around the box and it wasn’t an easy chance, even though he was five yards from goal, because he had to control it and get a strike off before anybody could get to him.”