CHESTER’S patched up side gained their first point of the new year with a battling display against recent nemesis Southport.

With the home side enduring a miserable festive period and the visitors, who knocked Chester out of the FA Trophy in November, bang in form this looked a tricky fixture for the Blues despite their superb record at the Swansway Stadium this season.

Credit then to the injury-hit hosts who recovered well from a shaky start to go in at half time the better of the two sides despite the Sandgrounders carving out the best two chances of the first 45 minutes.

Southport enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges with the lively Devarn Green finding space inside the area to shoot only for a superb sliding block from Simon Grand to deny the path to goal.

Chester struck back with a chance of their own after good work from full-back Matthew Waters saw him cut into the area down the left before his cross shot was cleared off the line by Nathan Astles.

When Liam Edwards went into the book for hauling down Dan Mooney on the half way line it looked like Chester were gaining the upper hand but then came the best chance of the half with Jack Sampson breaking down the right before squaring to Jordan Archer whose mistimed slide saw the ball fly past him with the goal gaping.

Five minutes later the Sandgrounders could have gone ahead again with Grant Shenton getting down well to save with his feet as Archer bore down on goal.

From then on it was Chester who made most of the running with the increasingly influential George Green beginning to pull the strings in midfield and Bradley Jackson a willing and able wing back.

It was Mooney who wasted the best chance to fall Chester’s way when he failed to connect with a Dudley cross from the right with the striker going on to get booked for a late challenge on Astles.

The Blues began the second half strongly and had a boost after 57 minutes when former Chester centre half Astles limped off to be replaced by Dion Charles. Waters drove over from long range but for all their superior possession the hosts were struggling to create any clear cut chances as the game began to drift.

A double substitution saw Lloyd Marsh Hughes and Adam Dawson come on for the ineffective Deane Smalley and Mooney respectively with ten minutes left with Southport sub Dion Charles going close for the visitors before a thrilling period of pinball in the Sandgrounders’ area saw Craig Mahon’s shot blocked.

Four minutes of added time failed to witness any more action with both sides content with a hard earned point and hoping of a better year ahead.

Joint Blues boss Bernard Morley was happy with a point, saying: “On the back of what we’ve watched over the last couple of games I’m pleased with that. It stops the rot and we’re now unbeaten in 2019. We have to take the positives out of what we’ve seen and today we can take half a dozen.

“We’ve got a good result against a side who’ve taken 20 points from their last 24 so let’s not make any bones about it was a good result.

“All the hard work we’ve put in the last six or seven weeks was beginning to fade away so it was important that the lads put it right today. There is only so much me and Johno can affect and we can’t affect what goes on on the grass but what we can do is to try and pick a side that shows some resilience which we did and that’s how we’ve managed to get a result today.

“The lads have dug in today and that’s a massive plus for us.

“Grand and Howson both did what it says on the tin and more - Simon has been playing left back so for him to come in and dominate two good centre forwards was superb. He needs a pat on the back.”

There was also some good news regarding Akwasi Asante’s future with the Blues.

Morley revealed: “We are hoping Asante’s transfer goes through, which will make him available for Saturday. With Gary Stopforth there are still question marks over what is wrong with him but apart from that we are starting to look full strength.

“I’m led to believe Akwasi has had a medical but I don’t know how it’s gone but I’m hoping it’s positive and it’s done and he’s our player.”

Other results: Nuneaton 1, Telford 2; Alfreton 1, Boston 1; Altrincham 0, Stockport 1; Aston 1, Curzon 2; Bradford PA 1, Guiseley 2; Chorley 4, FC United 0; Kidderminster 2, Hereford 1; Leamington 0, Brackley 0; Spennymoor 2, Blyth 2; York 4, Darlington 0.