Full-time: Robins 3, Chester 1
Two goals by Billy Waters set Cheltenham Town on their way to a fifth win in six matches to go four points clear at the top of the table tonight.
The diminutive striker became the club’s top scorer this term, joining Danny Wright on 11 after his first goal in six weeks to put the seal on victory with three minutes remaining.
Once again Chester provided a stern test, defending resolutely and presenting a real threat in attack through Ross Hannah, but Gary Johnson’s side were simply too good on the day.
In terms of distance the three goals in total probably came to 10 yards, but with Forest Green Rovers playing in the cup tomorrow at Oxford United they ensured the Robins put some daylight between themselves and their nearest rivals.
The result also meant that the Robins will sit at the top of the pile when supporters are tucking into their turkey.
Boss Johnson named the side that came away from Aldershot’s EBB Stadium with a 2-0 win last weekend.
There were early chances for Harry Pell and Billy Waters, but they didn’t test Jon Worsnop in the Chester goal.
Cheltenham were relieved to see Danny Hattersley smash an early chance over from a great position after Ross Hannah had caught Danny Parslow in possession.
It took 18 minutes for the Robins to take the lead, when Harry Pell was a whisker away from bagging his fourth free-kick in successive games. The midfielder hit his cleanest one yet, piercing the defensive wall with a rasping drive from 25 yards but it cannoned back off the left upright into the path of Aaron Downes.
The skipper rolled it back across the goal and Ryan Jennings turned it into the path of Waters, who did the rest from three yards.
Danny Wright and Jordan Chapell exchanged chances - both easily saved - and Dickie saw a looping effort held by Worsnop.
But Chester were back on terms in the final minute of the first half after the game was held up for a couple of minutes to allow treatment for the Assistant Referee.
He’d slipped in front of the Thomson & Bancks Solicitors Stand and appeared to twist an ankle, and Cheltenham we’re caught cold once the game had been re-started.
Ryan Higgins slung in a long throw from the right, and picked up the clearance to find Hattersley in the middle. He picked out Hannah, who called Dillon Phillips into a phenomenal one-handed save but unfortunately for the Cheltenham number one, the big Chester striker beat Jennings to the loose ball to bundle home from close range.
Andrea Novakovich replaced Jack Munns 11 minutes after the interval, whose final contribution was a poor challenge on Luke George to earn the afternoon’s first caution.
A moment later Chester could have taken the lead after a goalmouth scramble in which Ryan Lloyd saw one blocked and another saved by Phillips.
The miss was costly, because Waters doubled his account on the hour after some clever work by Dickie in the right corner to beat a couple of defenders and hook over a cross towards the near post.
Waters reacted quickest, nipping in between the two centre halves and ahead of Worsnop to prod home his 11th of the season.
Wright made it three in the closing stages after some good work by Novakovich to call Worsnop into a late save. He parried the ball as far as the industrious striker, who stroked it home to extend the club's lead at the top of the Vanarama National League.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Phillips; Dickie, Downes (c), Parslow, McLennan; Jennings (Rowe 89), Pell, Storer, Munns (Novakovich 56) Wright, Waters (Hall 84). Subs not used: Barthram, Kitscha (Gk).
CHESTER (4-4-2): Worship; Higgins, Sharps (c), Whitmore, Hunt (Mahon 73); Chapell, George, Shaw, Lloyd; Hannah, Hattersley. Subs not used: Rooney. Forth (Gk), Richards, Hobson.
REFEREE: S Ross
ATTENDANCE: 2,501 (235 from Chester)