JAMES ALABI scored a sublime overhead kick as Chester extended their unbeaten run to six matches with a 1-1 draw at Guiseley.
The Blues are up to seventh in the table after Alabi gave them a stunning lead on 29 minutes, but a contentious penalty on 53 minutes was converted by Simon Walton to earn the hosts a share of the spoils.
Alex Lynch was on hand to make a fine late save to deny Jake Cassidy a winner.
The thoughts of the football world have been with the FC Chapecoense team who lost their lives in a plane crash earlier this week, and before kick-off at Nethermoor a minute’s silence was impecibly observed to remember those who died. The Blues also adopted green armbands on their sleeves to pay their respects.
It was Guiseley who twice went close to opening the scoring in the opening three minutes. Firstly, Alex Purvey’s low drive was comfortably held by Lynch in the Blues’ goal, before Will Hatfield met a back post cross and really should have done better as his effort flew over the bar.
Ashley Palmer’s low shoot was well stopped by Lynch before Craig Mahon’s cross sailed wide of the goal, but it was the hosts who were well on top in the opening 10 minutes.
Sam Hughes was winning his battles down the right and one flick on found James Alabi in a promising position but his effort fizzled out.
James Preston then stung Lynch’s palms from 20 yards out as Chester struggled to get to grips with their opponents.
After 20 minutes, it was developing into a scrappy, physical affair, but Chester certainly weren’t shirking the tough nature of the encounter, with dominant centre-backs Blaine Hudson and Ryan Astles both throwing themselves in front of shots in the space of 30 seconds.
On 26 minutes, Kane Richards won a fortunate free-kick 25 yards from goal on the left hand side and Elliott Durrell whipped in a cracking cross from the resulting set piece but no one in yellow could get a connection.
The Blues were gaining a foothold on proceedings and duly delivered the opener on 29 minutes. Durrell’s overhit corner found Tom Shaw, who lofted a cross towards Hudson on the edge of the area.
Hudson’s knock down found Alabi with his back to goal, 10 yards out, and the former Ipswich Town striker acrobatically volleyed the ball into the bottom corner past a motionless Johnny Maxted.
Alabi was now full of confidence and forced a decent save from Maxted on 32 minutes with a low cross-shot befpre Durrell’s cross drifted over Ryan Lloyd.
Guiseley winger Preston was then set through on goal and Hudson did superbly well to track the midfielder before Lynch came out quickly to smother the ball.
Lloyd was starting to dicate matters in midfield and his delightful cross-field 50 yard pass found Durrell on the right, who cut past his man but lost control in the process, as the Blues went in 1-0 ahead.
McCarthy made no changes at the break as Chester began the second period kicking towards the travelling fans stood behind Maxted’s goal.
This was never going to be an easy 45 minutes for the Blues, with Guiseley having beaten both Torquay and Boreham Wood in their previous two home outings, and Alex Perver dragged his shot wide on 50 minutes past Lynch’s post.
The warning signs were there and on 52 minutes, the hosts were awarded a penalty when Johnny Hunt was adjudged to have tripped rampaging right-back Connor Brown by referee Martin Coy.
Brown looked to have gone down very easily but Coy was in no doubt and Walton stepped up to send Lynch the wrong way.
Hudson was forced into a last-ditch tackle to deny Jake Cassidy, before McCarthy replaced Richards with Wade Joyce.
On 67 minutes, Mahon’s tricky run saw him brought down in the box by Brown but Chester’s strong appeals were waved away by Coy.
Lynch and Astles then got in an awful mess as they left a long ball for each other, with Perver’s resulting shot dramatically headed off the line by Hudson.
If either side was going to grab the winner, it now looked like being the hosts and Hudson was again on hand to nod a dangerous free-kick behind for a corner, Lynch doing well to punch the resulting deliver clear.
Shaw played a fine ball into substitute Jordan Chapell but he blazed his effort wide on 80 minutes before Danny East’s shot crept wide of Lynch’s goal.
Astles denied Cassidy late on with a tremendous tackle when the striker looked odds-on to score, as Chester clung on for a well-earned point.