United had the strong wind behind them in the first-half and, after a quiet opening, they took advantage of that with seven minutes on the clock. Alex Mitchell's goal-kick being flicked on by the head of Andrew Cook for Gary Madine bursting through the middle. Chester centre-half Jack Rowlands was having none of it though as he took away the legs of Madine just as the Blues striker was about to shoot.
It was a couple of yards in the area, it was a clear goalscoring opportunity and it was a definite foul so why the Chester players complained so heartily about Rowlands' resultant red card is anybody's guess. Still, Madine dusted himself down and sent the City keeper the wrong from the penalty spot as he coolly stroked the ball home.
Three minutes later and Cook, Madine and Matthew Wood all combined nicely before Cook's left-footed shot across goal from 12 yards out eventually went inches wide of the Chester far-post. Despite being down to ten men the visitors performed well throughout and in some parts of the game it was often Carlisle who looked a player short in an unsurprisingly ring-rusty performance.
City kept pushing on and in the 18th minute, after a punt over the top had found Tom Aldred in a muddle, one of the Chester strikers wasted an excellent one-on-one opportunity with Mitchell as he sidefooted the ball wide of the target from just 12 yards out. The game was often stuck in midfield though with the weather and a bobbly cutting-up pitch hardly helping flowing football.
With 28 minutes gone Connor Tinnion played the ball across to Blues skipper Stephen Hindmarch who in turn touched possession into the path of Madine in the right-hand channel. Madine, uncharacteristically, pulling his 18-yard right-footed effort across goal and wide of the far-post. Four minutes later the visitors were forced into a substitution as one of their strikers left the fray with what looked like a hamstring problem.
A trademark long throw from Carlisle right-back Matthew Brown was nodded on to Cook by Madine in the 35th minute, Cook sending a right-footed half-volley on the turn wide from 12 yards out. Four minutes later came an almost identical effort and result, this time the shooting opportunity for Cook coming from left-back Matthew Duffy's free-kick up into the Chester penalty area.
One minute before the interval Madine was brought down on the left-angle of the City box, United winning a corner from the resultant quickly taken set-piece. Duffy sent the flag-kick in and Cook's header deflected away for another corner, this time Jonny Blake swung it in and Cook's header was cleared away straight to the feet of Dan Wordsworth. The Carlisle centre-half seeing his left-footed 15-yard drive flick off the leg of Madine on it's way over the Chester crossbar.
The Blues were still looking to increase their advantage bang on the half-time whistle. Brown sent a good centre in from the right which was headed back across into the six-yard box by the marauding Duffy. Madine couldn't have been better placed to finish with his header but in a case of "anywhere else" it flew straight into the arms of the City goalkeeper.
Seven minutes into the second-half and it was the Chester right-winger, who was probably their best player on the day, cutting in from the left this time on the break as City looked to grab an equaliser. The young visitors midfielder firing a low right-footed drive from 22 yards out which Mitchell held low down at his near-post.
Some more dodgy defending from the Cumbrians in the 57th minute when Aldred, Wordsworth and Mitchell all got in a mix-up saw a City ball come in from the right which Wordsworth did well to hack away in the end after a pit of pinball in the Carlisle box. Just sixty seconds later though and United were hoping to double their lead but Hindmarch's right-footed 22-yard drive was straight at the Chester keeper.
Hindmarch was again in the thick of the action shortly afterwards when he made a great run in from the left only once more to fire a shot into the arms of the City glovesman. A break in play just seconds later saw United boss Eric Kinder make his first change of the day when he brought on Simon Lakeland in place of Wood in the centre of midfield.
In the 63rd minute some good link-up play between Tinnion, Blake and Madine resulted in Tinnion's low left-footed drive from 15 yards out being well saved by the legs of the City keeper at his near-post. Sadly two minutes later came the most memorable moment of the game when a serious injury to Chester player Tom Vickers, who had dropped into the vacant centre-half spot after the sending-off of Rowlands, saw the game delayed by 25 minutes.
After tussling for possession with Cook in the City box Vickers went down awkwardly and his immediate screaming was the result of a suspected dislocated shoulder. The ambulance appeared quickly from the nearby Cumberland Infirmary but it did seem to take an inordinate amount of time to whisk him away from the scene, play resuming after the lengthy stoppage with the City substitute being their third centre-half of the game.
Understandably the game took a couple of minutes to get into full flow again but in the 68th minute Carlisle were awarded their second penalty of the game. Hindmarch's chipped ball in saw Blake's diving header seemingly hit the hand of a City defender. More vehement protests came from the visitors but Madine was calmness personified again as he once more sent the Chester keeper the wrong way from the spot.
At two goals to the good against ten men it looked like the game was all over only for City to net with their own penalty just sixty seconds later. Wordsworth incurring the wrath of Eric Kinder from the sidelines after bringing down the Chester right-winger on the by-line. Giovanni Feliciello, like Madine showing great composure, stepping up to send Mitchell the wrong way and make it 2-1.
During the break in play the visitors made their final substitution of the game but in the 72nd minute it was United who missed a great chance to make it 3-1. Madine heading straight at the City keeper from close range after Duffy had put in a great cross from the left over to the back-post. Just sixty seconds later Blake tried his luck from range with a left-footed half-volley but it drifted wide of the Chester far-post.
With 75 minutes on the clock a Tinnion corner in wasn't really cleared properly by City but Wordsworth's 15-yard right-footed half-volley on the turn went wide of the far-post. Carlisle making their second change in personnel in the 81st minute when Brown was replaced by John Seaton, that seeing Seaton take Blake's midfield spot while Blake dropped into Brown's vacant right-back role.
Chester pressed hard for a late equaliser in the closing stages and in the 85th minute, following a foul by Lakeland 35 yards out, a free-kick came into the Carlisle box which, from 12 yards out, was headed back across goal and inches wide of the left-hand post. The same City player who had gone so close being booked for a bad challenge on Wordsworth just sixty seconds later, although, in all honestly, he had already been lucky to avoid a yellow card by that point.
The last chance of the game came the way of the visitors two minutes from time, when, with their goalkeeper up for a corner, a melee of bodies saw a City head thump ball just over the top from eight yards out. So, the winning run in the league continues although the young Blues will need to pick their form back up if they are going to keep a sustained title challenge going, starting at Accrington Stanley next Saturday morning.
United line-up :
Alex Mitchell, Matthew Brown (John Seaton 81), Matt Duffy, Dan Wordsworth, Tom Aldred, Jonny Blake, Stephen Hindmarch (c), Matthew Wood (Simon Lakeland 59), Andrew Cook, Gary Madine, Connor Tinnion.
Unused substitutes :
Grant Carson (GK) and Michael Dowson.
Fixtures in the division from Saturday 22nd December :
Macclesfield P-P Walsall (frozen pitch)
Rochdale P-P Port Vale (frozen pitch)
Results in the division this morning :
Blackpool 2-0 Bury
Burnley 4-0 Accrington Stanley
Carlisle United 2-1 Chester
Oldham 6-2 Morecambe
Port Vale 1-4 Macclesfield
Shrewsbury 2-4 Stockport
Tranmere 0-3 Wigan
Walsall 3-2 Wrexham
Rochdale P-P Preston (Monday - waterlogged pitch)
Fixtures in the division next Saturday :
Accrington Stanley v Carlisle United
Blackpool v Preston North End
Bury P-P Burnley (Burnley at home to Arsenal in FA Youth Cup on Friday)
Macclesfield v Tranmere
Morecambe v Rochdale
Oldham v Port Vale
Stockport v Wigan
Walsall v Chester
Wrexham v Shrewsbury
Youth Team Results : Click here
Youth Team Table : Click here
Youth Team Reports : Click here
Youth Team Squad : Click here