Chester will have to contest an away replay on Tuesday night after a 1-1 draw with Altrincham in the Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round.
Stoppages amounting to almost 20 minutes over the course of the game slowed its pace, but the Blues were already in front with just a couple of minutes gone as Matty Hughes slammed home from the edge of the box.
Alty responded in the second half, and deservedly so, as Josh Hancock nodded them level but the spoils were shared.
Chester made one change to the lineup that won at Telford last weekend, Jamie Morgan’s suspension and the injury to Kevin Roberts meant Matty Waters had to slot in at right-back, away from his favoured left.
It was a glorious start to a glorious afternoon in CH1 as Hughes opened the scoring for the Blues inside the opening couple of minutes. A square ball from George Glendon, who recently extended his deal with the club until January, gave the forward a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box which he duly took on to slot home his third of the season.
Alty turned up the tempo and pressured the Chester backline. A massive cut to the head of Danny Livesey meant the centre-half had to leave the field momentarily whilst the visitors tried to take advantage.
After an action packed opening five minutes, very little happened for the next half an hour. The Robins saw the majority of the ball and the Blues struggled to get a foothold in the rest of the first half.
Then as the game entered a lengthy period of first half added time, the away side should’ve levelled things up. A flurry of corners culminated in a scramble from the last and the ball came off the unsuspecting Jordan Hulme, trickling wide.
The hosts switched to a 3-5-2 at the break with a first-half injury to Scott Burton in mind, James Jones was introduced at right-back with Waters moved to his favoured left as Joel Taylor was withdrawn and Iwan Murray came into the midfield.
Some fantastic work down the right side from Hughes opened the second half as the Blues goalscorer fed Bradley Jackson. His pinpoint cross found the on-form Akwasi Asante but his volley was straight down the throat of former Chester ‘keeper Tony Thompson. Down the other end, Jake Moult nodded his free header over the bar.
A stoppage of nearly ten minutes saw Russ Griffiths have to change his top after taking a blow to the face. With no substitute goalkeeper it was crucial that he was able to restart and so the pause was required.
With a hefty amount of stoppage time on the cards, Chester finally began to pick up the pace in a scrappy affair. However after Anthony Dudley was denied in the air, Altrincham broke down the other end and Hancock’s header brought the visitors level. 75 minutes had been played though the game was effectively on the hour mark.
The Blues didn’t take that lying down and came straight back out of the traps trying to regain their lead. Asante’s effort went for a throw-in though a better effort at the back post from Livesey was stopped well by Thompson.
Jimmy Soul held up 11 minutes of stoppage time as the game finally came closer to its conclusion, and Jackson very nearly curled Chester back in front. Burning down the right he cut onto his left and launched an effort narrowly wide of the far top corner.
Then it was Waters’ turn to have a go, taking on the ball down the left channel and firing across Thompson but this fizzed agonisingly wide.
After another spell of Alty pressure, referee James Westgate blew his whistle for the final time meaning the tie will have to be decided on Tuesday night at Moss Lane. One of the most bizarre games of football you’re likely to see comes to an end.
CHESTER: Griffiths, Waters, Taylor (Jones 46), Burton (Murray 46), Livesey, Grand, Jackson, Glendon, Asante (Waring 90), Hughes, Dudley.
SUBS NOT USED: Elliott, Mahon, Cottrell, Thomson.
Match Report by Alex Bullions.