Chester secured an important point in their quest for National League survival as they drew 1-1 with Hartlepool United at the Swansway this evening.
Harry White’s fourth goal in four league games ensured the Blues were rewarded for their valiant efforts as they move to within four points of safety. Marcus Bignot’s side will feel they were unlucky not to grab all three points as a string of impressive saves from Scott Loach kept Hartlepool in the game.
Chester started the game brightly, as intelligent running from White stretched the Hartlepool defence, but the striker could only muster a corner early on.
The Blues looked to have suffered an injury setback 12 minutes in as Tom Crawford came off worse for wear in a 50/50 challenge with Lewis Watkins. Fortunately for Bignot, the 18 year old was back on his feet after treatment.
James Akintunde enjoyed positive spells of possession in Hartlepool territory, and his work enabled Craig Mahon to collect the ball 25 yards out before smashing a low effort just past the post. Mahon looked to be the creative spark in the Blues team as he burst through the midfield before playing Harry White through on goal, but he was excellently denied by a last ditch tackle from defender Louis Laing.
‘The Monkey Hangers’ began to ask questions of the Chester defence with former Wales U21 striker Jake Cassidy going close at Hornby’s near post.
The Seals created the best chance of the first half 31 minutes in as Mahon found space on the right before lofting an inviting cross that Ryan Astles failed to head on target.
However Hornby had to be on hand again moments later when Devante Rodney cut inside before firing a ferocious strike, which the Port Vale loanee acrobatically parried away.
With a few minutes left of the first-half, Chester were left to rue four vital missed chances as Loach performed heroics that highlighted why he was a touted as a future England international!
Mahon, who continued to cause Hartlepool problems, stepped inside and struck a venomous left-footed effort that Loach tipped over. The resulting corner fell to James Jones but his effort was parried away by the former Watford man, before the in-form White was denied from point blank range. Blues continued to press, and Kingsley James looked to have scored the opener but Loach managed to nip the ball just outside the post. Chester tried to begin where they left off in the second-half, and a neat flick-on from White allowed Akintunde to race through before he was brought down by Laing. The resulting free-kick appeared to provide a dangerous opportunity, but Lucas Dawson blasted over.
James Jones was at his impenetrable best 57 minutes in as Rodney forced his way past Lathaniel Rowe-Turner before being stifled by an incredible last ditch tackle from the 18 year old defender. However Hartlepool broke the deadlock 5 minutes later with a slice of fortune, as numerous deflections allow Cassidy to break through and square the ball to Michael Woods to finish emphatically.
The Blues replied almost immediately, as Halls delivered a deep cross on the overlap but James managed to head the ball just wide.
Chester finally found the elusive equaliser on the 77th minute as the in-form man Harry White was able to capitalise on some static defending before rifling the ball into the top corner.
The goal lifted the atmosphere at the Swansway and the game suddenly began to open up as both sides searched for a winner.
The Seals survived a scare late-on as the arrival of Hartlepool striker Oluwatomisin Adeloye caused Rowe-Turner issues on the counter and superb defending from Halls done enough to prevent the striker from attempting an effort.
Bignot’s side were able to survive a series of late Hartlepool corners as fatigue began to creep in, but they nearly mustered a last-gasp winner as Halls pumped in a late free-kick that fell to White, but the striker couldn’t make a strong enough connection on the ball.
A vital and encouraging point as the fight for survival continues, and a trip to Maidenhead United awaits on Saturday.
Match Report by Jaquob Crooke
Chester team: Hornby, Halls, Jones, Astles ©, Rowe-Turner, Crawford, James, Dawson (Archer), Mahon, White, Akintunde
Unused substitutes: Lynch, McCombe, Joyce, Brown,
Hartlepool team: Loach, Donnelly, Laing, Adams, Magnay ©, Deverdics, Hawkins, Featherstone, Woods, Rodney (Adeloye), Cassidy
Unused substitutes: Harrison, Munns, Hawkes, Newton,
MOTM: James Jones