Chester returned from a three-week absence to pick up a well earned point on the road this afternoon at Brackley Town.
It was their first National League North encounter since October 31, following several positive covid tests within the squad earlier this month.
But the Blues certainly didn’t look rusty and conjured up the better chances in a somewhat even affair. Matt Lowe’s strike earned the Saints a point after Chester took the lead from an own goal following a corner early in the second half.
Joel Taylor was sent off late on for a second bookable offence – but the defensive unit stood firm to seal a hard-fought point.
The first half was a real battle in the wet and windy conditions. The opening chance came on seven minutes to the Seals, as Brad Bauress’ inswinging corner ricocheted kindly for Simon Grand inside the box, but his effort was blocked.
Brackley’s solitary attempt on target in the first half fell to Tre Mitford. He was slipped through by Ashley Chambers, but the former Kettering Town forward saw his effort pushed away by Louis Gray.
Bauress continued to be an attacking threat. On the half hour mark, his corner was once again inviting but couldn’t quite find the goalbound touch it deserved. Then in first half stoppage time, his reverse pass enabled Declan Weeks to cut back for Danny Elliott – but the Blues’ top scorer sidefooted over the bar.
Nevertheless, Chester did take the lead on 51 minutes – and once again it was Bauress at the heart of things. His superb delivery from the right was nodded into his own net at the near post by Jordan Cullinane-Liburd.
It was a deserved lead for Bern and Jonno’s side, and the Management duo – in their 100th game in charge of the Blues – nearly saw their side make it two moments later. George Glendon’s delightful clipped ball found the head of Elliott, who was foiled by a strong save from Alistair Worby.
But they were dealt a cruel blow ten minutes after the opener. Lee Ndlovu found space on the edge of the box, shifted the ball to the right for Lowe who cut inside and fired beyond Gray to make it one apiece.
Kevin Wilkin’s side nearly took the lead shortly after, but Mitford dragged his shot wide on the edge moments following appeals for a penalty.
Chester then had two good opportunities as the clock ticked down.
First, a well constructed counter attack saw Bauress find Anthony Dudley – he in turn picked out Weeks – before his bullet effort whistled just over the crossbar.
Then on 85 minutes, sub George Waring saw the ball drop to his feet following a long throw – but the forward failed to keep his shot down.
Blues left-back Taylor was given his marching orders with minutes to play, his second bookable offence in a matter of moments saw Referee Ben Wyatt show the red for a foul on Ndlovu.
CHESTER: Gray, K Roberts, Livesey, Grand, Taylor, Lacey, Weeks, Glendon, Dudley (Waring 75), Elliott (Hughes 84), Bauress (Jackson 75).
SUBS NOT USED: Johnston, Morgan.
SCORERS: Lowe 61; Cullinane-Liburd (OG) 51.