Chester made their bitter rivals Wrexham work hard for their cross-border derby victory, but once the deadlock was broken there was only one winner.

In the week when the Blues offered their impressive young talents Tom Crawford, Ryan Astles and James Jones new contracts, Marcus Bignot’s side produced a performance to be proud of for an hour, but as has happened all-too-often this season, conceding the first goal proved fatal to their derby dreams, and with it any hopes they had of staying up were up in smoke.

Dean Keates’ Wrexham side, who should now seal a play-off spot given their favourable run-in, are well-disciplined, methodical and made in their manager’s image. Chester frustrated them for 45 minutes, briefly looked like causing a shock for the next 10 but were ultimately comfortably brushed aside by the far superior outfit just 13 miles down the road, as Scott Quigley and Nicky Deverdics – both January arrivals – netted in a seven-minute period which ends any hope Chester have of survival.

Much like the first meeting of the two rivals this campaign, back in November, Wrexham were made to scrap to get their noses in front but in true Keates fashion they dug deep second-half and emerged with a first win in five outings, just as the well-behaved 6,511 crowd were beginning to get agitated.

Keates no doubt saw a potential weakness in Chester’s back line in the form of makeshift left-back Myles Anderson and brought Paul Rutherford into the Reds line-up on the right wing to expose the lack of pace the former Torquay defender possesses.

Chester had been performing respectably of late, but Bignot couldn’t hide the fact his side had lost four of their past five matches to all-but lose any hope of staving off relegation.

A decent performance for an hour in midweek against Dover Athletic was followed by 30 minutes of defensive madness, summing up the way the Blues have imploded on several occasions during what has been a miserable season. Unfortunately, it was almost a repeat performance here.

Minute’s silences have been a major cause of resentment between the two sets of supporters in the past, with Chester fans interrupting a silence for the victims of the Gresford Colliery Disaster back in the September 2014 derby, so instead all supporters were invited to pay their respects to former Wrexham player Kieron Durkan in the ninth minute, who tragically died aged 44 at the start of the month. The response was fantastic as the ground rose – to a man – in memory of Durkan. You see, fans can be respectful when they want to be.

The Blues fans who made the short hop down the A483 would have been concerned in the opening exchanges, as Marcus Kelly, Chris Holroyd and Sam Wedgbury began to overrun inexperienced duo Tom Crawford and Lucas Dawson in the centre of the park.

Keates’ set-up, so often reliant on Smith and Pearson, was thrown off course as Smith was forced off with a leg injury, David Raven shifting to centre-back.

For Blacon-born Crawford this was an occasion he’d have been savouring and he collected the game’s first booking for a crunching late tackle on Wedgbury, to roars of approval from the travelling fans.

The match – and atmosphere – sparked into life midway through the first-half with a series of thunderous tackles, with Anderson’s hefty lunge on Rutherford earn another yellow.

Keates has done a terrific job at Wrexham to turn them from mid-table also-rans into promotion contenders in just over 12 months, but they are a difficult watch at times and The Racecourse faithful made their frustrations known after a series of sideways passes from Rutherford, Wedgbury and Kelly.

A key battle was always going to be how Ryan Astles and Shaun Hobson dealt with Chris Holroyd and Quigley, but full credit to the Chester centre-half pairing who grew into the first-half and were on top of their opponents at the interval.

Indeed, Chester were establishing themselves in the game and some fine spells of possession towards the end of the half nearly produced a derby-day goal for Crawford, who fluffed his lines from 20 yards.

Bignot’s ‘£200 team’ as he referred to them after defeat at Dover, were doing their club proud and bossed the opening 15 minutes of the second-half, with Crawford, Waters and Dominic Vose, the pantomime villain, seeing plenty of the ball. The home crowd were getting nervous, as Chris Dunn was forced into a fine save to deny Dawson’s 25-yard piledriver.

Archer, snapped up from Stourbridge, is one piece of business Chester can be happy with, with the centre-forward once again impressing throughout and giving the rugged Pearson one of his toughest battles of the campaign to-date.

Wrexham however, came strongly back into the game and Quigley became a real focal point in attack, leading to the opener. Wedgbury and Kelly produced probing passes on the edge of the box and it was the on-loan marksman who did the damage from 12 yards with a cultured finish.

What Wrexham do so well is seeing out games, and for the final 20 minutes, their feathers remained unruffled, Pearson and Wedgbury marshalling the troops, as the Welsh supporters goaded their English rivals in the away end. The Reds are now dreaming of a date at Wembley in May, while Chester must decide what direction they want this team to take in National League North.