Brackley 1 Guiseley 0

A subdued performance in a non-descript away game was fitting as Guiseley’s faint hopes of the Blue Square Bet North title were finally snuffed out.

As the Lions quietly slipped to a slender defeat, a win for Chester FC at home to Boston by the same scoreline saw them crowned as champions and rubber-stamped their promotion to the Blue Square Premier.

For Steve Kittrick’s Guiseley, it is now all about securing second place for a second successive season to give them the best possible draw in the play-offs.

The manager will be expecting much improved performances now that the one automatic promotion issue has been settled.

Brackley were not at their best in a strange third-versus-second encounter. It was as if all the places had already been settled and the sides were going through the motions in a dead rubber.

Effectively that is the case as both have points cushions in their current placings. Guiseley only need four points from their remaining six fixtures to seal second spot.

The Lions’ Steve Drench was the only keeper to be tested in the opening half-hour and he ensured he was not beaten.

Guiseley finally threatened but Jack Rea’s header was wide of the target.

Having come into the game towards the end of the first half, the visitors created some half-chances in the opening exchanges of the second period as Kevin Holsgrove and Andy Holds-worth went close.

Kittrick did what he could to liven up his side by using all three substitutes.

Phil Marsh and James Walshaw were thrown on for Holsgrove and Josh Wilson in a double change. Soon after, Holdsworth made way for Gavin Rothery, who was making his first appearance after a knee injury.

It was to no avail as Brackley’s Owen Story snatched the only goal of the game seven minutes from time. Drench had to be alert minutes later to deny Story a second as the home side finished the stronger.

Kittrick said: “Chester were champions for me before this game and, fair play to them, they have deserved it.

“They are a good side. I asked Neil (Young, Chester manager) to come to us (next Saturday) and win the league but they have done it now so they can rest.

“It was a funny game at Brackley. We started poorly and they had three or four chances early doors.

“The second half was a non-event. Just before they scored I said ‘one goal will do it for either side’ and it was them who got it.”