FC Halifax Town are still searching for their first win – and goal – of the season after a scrappy goalless draw with Chester FC.
In a game where clear-cut chances were at a premium, Sam Johnson proved to be the hero once again after producing a brilliant last-ditch save in the final moments leaving Chester without a home victory since December 2016.
Billy Heath made one change from the side that picked up their first point of the season on Tuesday night at Barrow and it was an enforced one as Matty Kosylo replaced the injured Martin Riley.
The first chance of the game fell to former Shayman Ross Hannah who, after only 5 minutes, stabbed narrowly wide after Town failed to clear a floated free kick.
Hannah then chased down a poor Josh Wilde back-pass after Chester broke from a sloppy Connor Oliver corner but Johnson, Town’s knight in shining armour from the midweek clean sheet at Holker Street, was out quickly to clear the impending danger.
Hannah was then involved in a tussle with former Chester defender Matty Brown before Dion Charles, who had that superb chance to score Town’s first goal of the season at Barrow when he rounded the goalkeeper, tried a speculative effort from 30 yards – but it was always drifting wide.
Bohan Dixon and Kosylo then combined well down the right but when the latter blasted in a cross towards Denton, the tall striker, selflessly, decided to cut the ball back instead of shooting before the loose ball was finally cleared by a relieved Blues defence.
At the other end, Hannah was proving to be a constant menace and was successful in keeping Town’s defenders on their toes. However, in the fifteenth minute, the former Matlock star managed to escape the Town back-line but his low shot bobbled harmlessly wide.
Dixon then drove forward only to be fouled by Craig Mahon who received a yellow card for his troubles, with Denton heading Oliver’s free kick into the safe arms of Conor Mitchell.
Hannah then glimpsed Johnson off his line but his miscued effort from a bouncing ball – over 40 yards out – sailed comfortably wide. A teasing Hannah cross was then cleared by Josh Wilde before Nathan Hotte produced a commanding challenge on Kingsley James as the ex-Town midfielder prepared to shoot.
An intriguing Kosylo cross was then just about palmed away by Mitchell and away from the path of Denton, who then headed wide after an excellent Michael Duckworth cross. James did the same at the other end as the action – albeit not vivaciously – went from end to end.
Duckworth then produced a fantastic headed clearance with James waiting to pounce after an enticing cross from Andy Halls before Town’s right-back Duckworth raced to the other end and produced an exquisite cross for Denton but his header was brilliantly hacked off the line with the visiting fans, at the other end of the pitch, cheering what they thought was a certain goal.
After Hannah sent a free kick over the bar from a dangerous position as the half-time whistle fast approached, Duckworth and Kosylo combined well again but when the ball landed at Charles’ feet, his shot from the edge of the bar failed to trouble Mitchell.
Duckworth, who had had a productive half, was replaced at half-time by cult hero Town Scott McManus for his first taste of the 2017-18 campaign but it was Chester, through the tenacity of Hannah, who started the second period the brighter. The striker did superbly well to locate the overlapping Andy Halls but the right-back’s shot fizzed just wide of the far post.
Town then raced to the other end and, after Charles was fouled, Dixon’s free kick was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Kosylo saw his half-volley smash into the stanchion behind the goal.
That proved to be his last contribution as the nippy winger was replaced by Josh Macdonald who nearly produced an instant impact as he beat Lathaniel Rowe-Turner for pace before his looping cross from the right crashed back off the crossbar with Mitchell grasping at thin air.
Dixon then showed great vision to play in Hotte who saw his shot from a tight angle smothered by Mitchell before the former AFC Fylde man was replaced by Adam Morgan – whose name was being constantly sung by the visiting Town fans in eager anticipation of seeing the ex-Liverpool starlet.
But, as the chances dried up for Town late on – the best they could muster was a Charles effort which was deflected over – Johnson had to be at his expert best to deny James Akinkunde at the death.
The Chester substitute swivelled majestically in the box only for his sweeping and curling effort to be miraculously kept out by a sprawling Johnson as both sides had to settle for a point.
Chester: Mitchell, Halls, Rowe-Turner, McCombe (C), Astles, James, Mahon (Chappell 79), Turnbull, Dawson, White (Akintunde 68), Hannah
Subs not used: Lynch, Davies, Joyce
FC Halifax Town: Johnson, Duckworth (McManus 46), Wilde, Brown (C), Garner, Hotte, Dixon (Morgan 76), Oliver, Kosylo (Macdonald 56), Charles, Denton
Subs not used: Nicholson, Tomlinson
Referee: Peter Gibbons
Official Website Man of the Match: Matty Brown
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