CHESTER’S wait for a home win goes on as they were forced to settle for a scrappy point against Halifax Town.
Billy Heath’s newly-promtoed Shaymen came for a point and got what they ultimately deserved in a game with few clear-cut chances, James Akintunde going closest for the Blues as his 89th minute close-range effort was met by a stunning save from Sam Johnson.
Ross Hannah saw a first-half volley flash past the post and Josh MacDonald hit the crossbar for the visitors but neither manager could really grumble with a point each, with Jon McCarthy still awaiting a first win at the Swansway Chester Stadium since December 17.
There was one change to the Chester line-up, as Hannah was handed a first start since returning to the club in the summer, replacing Akintunde.
Hannah was immediately in the thick of the action, stabbing a half-volley narrowly wide from 10 yards out from Paul Turnbull’s free-kick.
Bohan Dixon had the Shaymen’s first meaningful attempt as he collected Lucas Dawson’s stray pass and let fly from 25 yards. Former Blues skipper Brown then tried to wrestle Hannah’s shirt off his back in a scuffle on the byline.
Dawson’s late tackle left Josh Wilde on the deck, before Kingsley James won the ball in midfield and set the lively Hannah in on goal but he dragged a left-footed shot well wide.
The opening 25 minutes were scrappy with Matt Kosylo and Craig Mahon engaging in a midfield battle, before Wilde hit a 30 yard shot high and wide for the visitors.
Big striker Tom Denton – with his huge 6”7 inch frame – was causing problems for Ryan Astles and the pair came to blows on 32 minutes with Astles claiming he’d been caught by a stray elbow as Heath and McCarthy had a difference of opinions on the touchline.
Mahon was cautioned for a cynical foul on Dixon, Conor Mitchell was forced to palm clear a dangerous cross by Kosylo before Dixon was inturn booked for simulation.
Denton came closest to breaking the deadlock on 36 minutes but his back post header was hooked clear off the line by Astles. Kosylo was booked for a shirt pull on Lathaniel Rowe-Turner as the game continued in a stop-start nature.
Harry White’s neat skill earned Chester a free-kick on the edge of the box on 42 minutes, Hannah curling the set piece over the bar.
John McCombe came to the Blues resuce on the stroke of half-time with a last-ditch tackle to deny Nathan Hotte 12 yards out, which brought to an end a drab first-half.
The Blues began the second period in better fashion, Hannah beating the offside trap and feeding Andy Halls on the overlap, but the right-back’s shot sailed narrowly wide. Kosylo’s volley then hit the side-netting for Halifax after a dangerous Connor Oliver corner.
Heath’s newly-promoted side almost took the lead on 58 minutes as substitute MacDonald – on for Kosylo minutes earlier – rampaged past Rowe-Turner down the right wing and his cross caught out Mitchell and came back off the crossbar.
White was caught by a stray forearm from centre-half Brown and received a bad cut to his left eye and was replaced shortly after by James Akintunde, more for his own good than anything, with the 22-year-old clearly agitated following Brown’s challenge.
Good link-up from Mahon and Halls resulted in the full-back being hauled down by Wilde who was cautioned, McCombe’s flicked header flashing wide from the resulting Turnbull delivery.
Chester – roared on by a crowd of 2,082 at the Swansway – were pushing for a late winner and Hotte was booked for a desperate lunge on Akintunde who was about to surge into the box.
Dion Charles came close to grabbing an 88th minute winner for Halifax but his shot was deflected over and Jordan Chapell’s 20 yard effort was comfortable saved by Johnson, who produced last-gasp heroics to deny Akintunde late on.
Chester: Mitchell, Halls, McCombe, Astles, Rowe-Turner, Turnbull, James, Dawson, Mahon (Chapell 79), Hannah, White (Akintunde 68); Subs: Lynch, Joyce, Davies.
Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth (McManus 45), Wilde, Brown ©, Garner, Kosylo (MacDonald 56), Hotte, Dixon (Morgan 73), Oliver, Charles, Denton; Subs: Nicholson, Tomlinson.
See full story in the Chester Leader