Danny Carlton’s first half goal gave Chester a precious three points at the R Costings Abbey Stadium as they defeated Cambridge United.
In a match of few chances, Carlton’s 12th minute header clinched the points, with the former Morecambe striker arriving in the box to finish from close range after good work from Nathan Turner.
United struggled to create chances, with Luke Chadwick missing two presentable opportunities, while goalkeeper Aaron Chapman’s only save of note came in stoppage time when he blocked an Ashley Chambers effort.
Richard Money made four changes to the side beaten at Lincoln City on Saturday, with Josh Coulson, Tom Champion, Andy Pugh and Luke Chadwick coming into the starting eleven. Goalkeeper Will Norris started despite an injury, which meant Richard Tait was called into action whenever the U’s had a goal kick.
Chester came into the match needing points to boost their bid for survival in the Skrill Conference Premier, and Steve Burr’s men delighted their noisy travelling fans by taking the lead in the 13th minute. Norris and Greg Taylor misjudged a deep cross from the right, allowing it to run to Turner, who hooked the ball back into the six yard box leaving Carlton with a tap-in.
Prior to that United had looked bright, with Luke Chadwick proving a constant menace to the visiting defence from his position on the left-flank. The former Manchester United youngster had the best chance for United in the 10th minute, but could only plant a free header straight at Aaron Chapman after good approach play from Luke Berry and Liam Hughes.
Andy Pugh then fashioned a chance for Tom Elliott, spinning away from Paul Linwood and delivering a low cross to the near post, but Elliott was only able to thump the ball wide under pressure from a covering defender.
Richard Money rung the changes in the second half, introducing Harrison Dunk, then Ashley Chambers and Matthew Barnes-Homer. But despite plenty of possession, Chapman remained largely untroubled.
Chambers was a lively presence, and his cross resulted in a Barnes-Homer shot blocked, before some neat footwork conjured a chance for Chadwick, who shot wide when well placed.
On the break Andy Bond could have doubled Chester’s advantage, but he curled a shot over the bar, and in the closing stages United laid siege to the visitors’ goal, but to no avail. The big chance came in stoppage time, when Hughes’ ball over the top found Chambers in the clear, and though he took the ball past Chapman, the goalkeeper recovered well to block.
So United are left to reflect on a third successive defeat, and now go into their final match of the season, at Gateshead on Saturday, looking to end the regular season on a high.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Luke Chadwick.
Cambridge United: Norris, Tait (Chambers 58), Taylor, Coulson, Miller, Hughes, Chadwick, Champion, Berry, Pugh, Elliott (Barnes-Homer 58). Subs not used: Roberts, Bonner.
Chester: Chapman, Griffin (Mahon 68), McIntyre, Horan (Ashworth 25), Linwood, Turner, Menagh, Bond, Jarrett, Rooney, Carlton (Hobson 83). Subs not used: Danby, Lindfield.
Referee: Jason Whiteley
Attendance: 3,521 (away 306)