A MATCH which started as a must win fixture for Chester City ended with the fans grateful for just a point following another inadequate performance.
How Chester avoided a comprehensive home defeat only the Morecambe strikers will know, for the visitors had enough second-half chances to have won by at least three goals as the City defence was breached with alarming regularity.
Manager Steve Mungall was pleased with the improvement after the break, but he must be privately worried that his team's lack of success - only one point from the last four matches must be threatening his own prospects.
'We were forced into two substitutions which didn't help, but we were fortunate not to lose a goal in the second half. We had a bit of luck,' he said.
Chester were certainly lucky Morecambe were so inept in front of goal. Garry Thompson missed two open goals and substitute Paul McGuire lobbed over a gaping net as Chester floundered at the back and before that Steve Rose had to clear off his line after Wayne Brown had failed to gather a cross.
All this came after City had promised to snatch the points. They had equalised four minutes into the second half when Mark Beesley lashed the ball home from Chris Blackburn's cross and Blackburn was unlucky when his shot was pushed on to the underside of the bar by goalkeeper Craig Mawson.
But instead of getting a grip on the game when they had the momentum they lost all composure and discipline at the back and better strikers than Morecambe's would have filled their boots with early Christmas presents.
There was little between the teams in the first half, but City were disrupted when Chris Malkin limped off with a recurrence of his groin injury and then Martyn Lancaster had to leave with concussion.
It was something Mungall could have done without, but had Beesley managed to hit the back of the net instead of the side-netting in the opening minute from a pass by debut defender Iain Jenkins the pressure would have been eased.
As it was Chester were behind on 22 minutes when Robbie Talbot was fouled by Steve Halford and Ian Arnold converted the penalty kick.
At least City showed the character to force their way back, but determination couldn't disguise the lack of quality in key positions.
Chester: Brown, Jenkins, M Rose, Carden, Halford, Lancaster (S Rose 25), C O'Brien, Blackburn, Malkin (Williams 16), Beesley, Ruscoe. Subs: Haarhoff, Higgins, Woodyatt. Booked: Griffiths, Blackburn.
Morecambe: Mawson, Fensome, McKearney, Murphy, Hardiker, Drummond, Rigoglioso (McGuire 67), Thompson, Talbot (Norman 63), Arnold, Perkins (Black 45). Subs: Curtis, Wilcock.
Referee: A Williams (Hereford).