An equaliser in the 88th minute from Chester FC’s striker Marc Williams, denied Bradford (Park Avenue) a remarkable victory, in a thrilling encounter at the Exacta Stadium.
John Deacey made a number of changes for the game, with Martin Drury, Richard Marshall and Paul Walker dropped to the bench. Also, Jordan Deacey returned to the bench, following a hamstring injury. Instead, Matty James, Craig Radcliffe and Danny Holland were recalled to the starting line up.
The Avenue started the game with a fantastic goal. The move developed on the left wing, as Alex Davidson dribbled past Luke Denson, and fed Danny Holland, who expertly curled the ball from 16 yards past John Danby into the bottom corner.
However, it was the home side who dominated the remainder of the first half.
After 15 minutes, The Blues’ midfielder Antoni Sarcevic flicked the ball over James Knowles, and struck a fine right footed shot from 14 yards, but, Tim Deasy dived to his left to save.
Furthermore, Chester FC created another opportunity, putting the Avenue in danger of conceding an equaliser. The Blues’ striker Marc Williams dribbled the ball past, both, James Knowles and Nathan Hotte, before putting through Nathan Jarman on goal, but, his effort from 8 yards skimmed the post.
Despite their search for the elusive equaliser, Chester FC, somehow, could not find a way past Tim Deasy. Firstly, the Blues’ defender Dom Collins fired a shot over from 10 yards.
Shortly after, the home side were awarded a free kick, which was delivered by Antoni Sarcevic into the box, however, George Horan’s volley from 10 yards struck the crossbar.
Again, the Bradford goalkeeper Tim Deasy was called into further action, with relentless Chester FC pressure. The Blues number nine Nathan Jarman was picked out by Antoni Sarcevic, but, the striker shot from close range, only for the outstretched goalkeeper to push the ball away from danger.
Shortly before the half time whistle, Tim Deasy came to the rescue again for the Avenue. The home side’s leading goalscorer Iain Howard blasted a low shot from the edge of the box, which was deflected into the path of Jarman, finding himself unmarked from six yards but, somehow, Deasy denied the striker again.
HALF TIME: CHESTER FC 0-1 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
Despite the break, the home side rippled the net, but, unfortunately for Chester FC, it skimmed the post and around to the back of the goal. From a left footed corner by Sean Clancy, the ball fell loose to Howard, but, his driven shot from the edge of the box went wide.
Despite John Deacey introducing, both, Richard Marshall and Paul Walker, Chester FC continued to look the most likely to score. A cross from Marc Williams was headed at the near post by Nathan Jarman, but, his looping header went agonisingly over from 12 yards.
With 20 minutes remaining, the Avenue, finally, created a chance. After a neat pass from Paul Walker, Bradford loanee Liam Needham crossed the ball into the six yard box, only for Tom Greaves to shoot wide.
Two minutes later, a clearance by Tom Greaves was latched onto by Rob O’Brien, who was clear on goal, but, Dom Collins sprinted back to tackle the midfielder.
With nearly five minutes left of a pulsating encounter, the Avenue’s Nathan Hotte was in the right position to clear the ball off the line, despite, the Blues’ substitute Paul Linwood charging in at the back post from Wes Baynes’ cross.
The Avenue were defending deep, and once again, the visitors kept the ball out of the net. A driven effort from Dave Hankin was deflected over by Martin Drury.
Eventually, the pressure was too much for the Avenue, as Marc Williams equalised. An inswinging corner from Sean Clancy was headed by the striker past Tim Deasy from close range.
Both sides were looking for a winner. A minute after the Blues’ goal, Antoni Sarcevic struck a tremendous effort from 25 yards, which whistled past the post.
Nevertheless, Bradford were looking to shock the majority of the crowd, as Paul Walker spotted Richard Marshall, on the edge of the penalty area, but, the substitute curled his shot wide of the far post.
Into injury time, Chester FC, somehow, were denied by the stubborn Bradford defence. A long ball into the box, fell to the feet of Nathan Jarman, but, his powerful shot was deflected over the bar by James Knowles.
There was still time for the away side to create a final opportunity. A counter attack by Craig Radcliffe caught out the Blues’ defence, and his cross found Tom Greaves, but, despite stretching to reach the ball, the striker could only toe-poke the ball over the bar from six yards.
FULL TIME: CHESTER FC 1-1 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
Chester FC: Danby, Denson (Baynes 75), Clancy, Horan (Linwood 49), Collins, Brown, Hankin, Sarcevic, Jarman, Williams, Howard (Gray 62)
Subs not used: Mackin, McGinn.
Booking: Jarman, Williams, Collins
Scorer: Williams (88)
Bradford (Park Avenue) Deasy, Duckworth, Radcliffe, O’Brien, Knowles, Hotte, Greaves, Needham, Holland (Marshall 45), James (Drury 80), Davidson (Walker 45).
Subs not used: Deacey, Higginson.
Scorer: Holland (2)