Chester picked up their first clean sheet of pre-season in a hard-fought and feisty goalless draw against Carlisle United at the Deva.

A disciplined and gritty display from the hosts earned its reward as Chester comfortably held their own against League Two opposition.

This performance stood in marked contrast to the laboured display in the 2-1 home reverse to Dulwich Hamlet, in which the exertions of an intensive training week in Cornwall were clearly evident.

The Blues showed purpose and desire, matching the workrate and endeavour of their opponents for long spells.

The signing of trialist goalkeeper Russ Griffiths on a one-year deal was confirmed shortly before kick-off, with Chester fans buoyed further by the sight of former Wrexham full-back Kevin Roberts making his first appearance for the club.

A change up front saw George Waring start ahead of Anthony Dudley, while Carlisle manager Steven Pressley arrived with a 22-man squad for the Deva clash.

Chester's players were virtual spectators in the opening exchanges as Carlisle's crisper passing and slicker movement came to the fore in the glorious evening sunshine.

The visitors seemed content to stroke the ball around in midfield before working their way to the edge of the Chester box in pursuit of an opening.

But the Blues quickly grew into the contest and looked well-versed in their defensive duties, breaking down the Carlisle attacks with a series of solid challenges and blocks.

It took until the 14th minute for the first meaningful effort on goal to arrive, Carlisle midfielder Mike Jones flashing an effort wide of the target.

His side went closer six minutes later when Eliott Reeves' met an inswinging free-kick with a powerful goalbound header, which was blocked by a well-placed Simon Grand.

Yet it was the home side who went closest to a breakthrough with two decent opportunities in quick succession.

Good work down the right flank from Craig Mahon earned the Blues a corner, which Danny Livesey pushed wide after arriving late at the back post.

The impressive Danny Elliott then showed his attacking threat, gathering possession in midfield before advancing to the edge of the box and shooting inches wide of the target.

Elliott threatened again on 34 minutes, rolling his marker on the edge of the box before drilling a low effort towards former Wrexham stopper Louis Gray's bottom corner.

At the other end, Chester were then indebted to Griffiths who produced a smart stop at point-blank range from Hallam Hope following a swift breakaway by Harry McKirdy.

That proved to be Hope's final contribution of note as he lashed out into Kevin Roberts' face, with referee Ed Duckworth producing a straight red just minutes after booking Chester's Gary Roberts for a full-blooded challenge in midfield.

The dismissal sparked a flashpoint on the touchline as Blues bosses Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley remonstrated with the visiting bench.

Despite their numerical advantage, Chester were unable to assert their dominance as United, who made seven change after the break, closed ranks and snuffed out the hosts' attacking endeavours.

Elliott instilled some urgency into the Blues attack and saw his appeals for a penalty waved away on 58 minutes after he went down under a challenge in the box.

The 23-year-old then spurned a gilt-edged chance for the opener on 10 minutes later, firing straight at Gray after surging clear of the United defence from Waring's flick-on.

Few clear-cut chances materialised as the game wore on, with Chester's frustrations growing as United's 10 men sat deep and continually broke up the hosts' forays forward.

There was almost a late sucker-punch though as Chester's substitute keeper Theo Roberts was called into action from Keighran Kerr's well-struck half-volley, saving well after being a bystander for most of his 45 minute stint.