Chester FC couldn’t capitalise on their two week break after drawing 0-0 at Southport in the Vanarama Conference Premier. Kingsley James and Richard Brodie were both sent off towards the end of the match with neither side being strong enough to make the break through to take home all three points.
Chester started strong, controlling the early ten minutes of the match. Unfortunately, the Blues couldn’t convert possession into goals. Although, the visitors had the first shot of the game as Sean McConville collected the ball from Hughes only to shoot directly into the gloves of debutant keeper Burton.
Moments later, Abbott hammered a bullet of a shot that flew past the entire Southport back line, forcing the Sandgrounders centre half Fitzpatrick to block the ball for a corner.
The Southport crowd within the Merseyrail Community Stadium thought they’d taken the lead. Rutherford collected an excellent pass from George who decided to take on Roberts and curled his shot towards goal, only Hattersley to tuck the ball home. Despite several protests, the assistant referee believed the Southport striker was offside and rightly ruled out the goal.
McConville was controlling the Blues attack for the majority of the first half with a fizzing shot towards the far post causing Burton to make a save, only for the deflection to fall to the boots of Scott Kay, with Tom Peers looming near. After a few more fazes of play, McConville thumped a right- foot shot past the far post, showing he was a danger to the Sandgrounders.
With only minutes until the break, Chester won a free kick 25 yards out following a series of fouls from Foster. McConville started a well-rehearsed free kick routine as he laid the ball off to Hughes who sent in a looping cross towards Brown, only for the Blues captain to head the ball over the crossbar.
The half time whistle was only a minute away when a fantastic counter attack from the visitors sparked an ounce of hope. Roberts rifled a ball over from the half way line which was failed to be cleared by two Southport defenders, causing a calamity at the back with Kay finally clearing the ball away.
Following the break, Chester came out of the blocks the quickest with Kingsley James firing a powerful strike over the bar. Five minutes into the second half and Chester were engineering another attack with Mahon shooting into the gloves of Burton.
Southport started to look more threatening following the introduction of John Marsden as the midfielder looped the ball over to Hattersley, with the resulting 25 yard strike collected well by Worsnop, who was rarely tested in the first half.
Southport were the stronger side in the last five minutes with Brodie forcing a world class save by Worsnop who clipped the ball around the post. Following his chance, Brodie lost his footing in the box and was looking for a penalty, only for the referee to give a goal kick. Chester believed Brodie had deliberately dived and there was a lot of disagreement before James was sent off for violent conduct. Brodie did not react in a professional manner and received a yellow card for his comments about referee Wayne Barratt. Moments later with tempers running high, Brodie flew in with a shocking challenge on debutant Higgins and was shown a second yellow card.
Both sides left Haig Avenue with a point, despite a bitter end to the match.
Southport: Burton, Parry, Fitzpatrick, Kay, Collins, Foster, George, Hattersley, Joyce (Brodie 63), Rutherford, Bakayoko (Marsden 63) Subs: Lloyd-Weston, Smith, Connor.
Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Brown, Kay, Roberts, Mahon (Richards 65), James, Abbott (Rooney 72), McConville, Peers (Green 83), Hughes. Subs: Viscosi, Heneghan.
Attendance: 1,894 (740 from Chester)
By Conor Shaw