Chester snatched a draw courtesy of an injury time own goal against a strong Gateshead side at the Deva.
The visitors took the lead through Robbie Tinkler’s strike in the second half, before being reduced to ten men with six minutes to play before conceding Louis Storey put through his own net in the ninty-seventh minute.
After a disappointing evening on Tuesday down CH1, and with a few injuries to contest with, Bern and Jonno were forced to make as many as six changes.
Simon Grand, James Hardy, George Glendon, George Waring, Darren Stephenson and John Johnston made way for Anthony Dudley, Luke Clark, Jude Oyibo, Matty Williams, Lloyd Marsh-Hughes and Josh Askew.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors as Macaulay Langstaff fired a ball across the Blues’ penalty area but fortunately for Chester, nobody was on hand to turn the ball home.
Chances were at a premium in the opening half hour, but the Heed again worked it into a good position as Langstaff created an opening, again fired across the Chester goal but Danny Livesey was on hand to clear.
The Blues were working hard but struggled to create many openings against a well drilled side. Declan Weeks tried an effort from just inside the Gateshead half but Jacob Chapman was back to make a comfortable save. At the other end the Heed played in Paul Blackett, who shot first time, but Gray was out quickly to smother the effort.
The visitors almost got the opener with five minutes to go until half time as Player/Manager Mike Williamson met a corner but Gray made a superb one handed save to deny him and keep the game goalless at the break.
Chester’s resolve was finally broken in the fifty-sixth minute though as Dan Ward broke forward down the left, his cross was deflected goalwards by Livesey, with Gray making an excellent reaction stop. However, the ball came only as far as Tinkler, who fired home to give the Heed the lead.
The Blues looked for a way back into the game and won a free kick twenty-five yards out. Skipper for the day Clark stepped up but couldn’t keep his effort down and it flew over the crossbar.
Gateshead continued to look a quality side and a beautiful move saw the Blues defence split open as Langstaff slid a pass through to Adam Campbell, but he could only drag his shot wide of the post.
With fifteen minutes to go Chester were given a huge opportunity to equalise as sub Waring was brought down in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Darren Stephenson but his effort was saved by Chapman, who was quick on the follow up to also deny him on the rebound.
Gateshead were then reduced to ten men with six minutes to go as Luke Williams was shown a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on Clark.
Despite the man advantage Chester struggled to conjure up a late chance against a defensively set side. Nevertheless in the seventh minute of stoppage time they did make the man advantage pay with one of the final kicks of the game as Weeks’ cross was turned into his own goal by Louis Storey, sparking scenes of jubilation for the home supporters.
CHESTER: Gray, Cowan, Livesey (Johnston 59), Williams, Morgan, Marsh-Hughes (Waring 72), Clark, Weeks, Askew, Oyibo, Dudley (Stephenson 59).
SUBS NOT USED: Hardy, Grand.
SCORERS: Storey (OG) 90+7; Tinkler 56.