From exasperation to exhilaration in a little more than 60 seconds.

With 90 minutes on the clock and the Blues leading 1-0, the fourth official held up his board to indicate an additional five minutes.

Halifax hardly threatened but when right back James Bolton equalised in injury time you could almost hear the collective groan of 'not again' circling.

But the response to that sickener proved this Chester FC side posses the character that will be needed to survive the drop.

 

Jamie Menagh proved the hero, showing more desire than anyone else on the pitch to pounce on a loose ball and net the winning goal to secure a precious three points.

Victory sees the Blues climb out of the bottom four, but the manner of the three points was equally important and gives everyone a lift heading into the final 15 games.

Having watched his side lose three in a row, manager Steve Burr made four changes to the side that lost 3-2 at Macclesfield Town and made Gareth Seddon captain against his former club.

Keeper Aaron Chapman and centre back Matty Brown started having signed on loan from Chesterfield with Craig Mahon recalled and Ross Killock back from suspension.

Injured skipper George Horan missed out with regular stopper John Danby, Paul Linwood and Jamie Reed dropping to the bench.

Halifax boss Neil Aspin included league top scorer Lee Gregory, Mark Roberts, who played once for Chester City in 2006, and Leeds United loanee Simon Lenighan in his side.

In the lead up to the game Burr had called for an 'instant impact' from his players and will have been pleased with the start his side made.

Seddon went close to putting the hosts ahead on two minutes but keeper Matthew Glennon, who had an excellent spell on loan with the Blues last season, did brilliantly to claw his looping effort away.

Fax struggled to get into the game early on but Lois Maynard forced Chapman into his first save on 15 minutes with a header from Roberts' long throw.

Burr's side had the greater possession in the opening half hour with Mahon looking lively down the left but chances were few and far between for both sides.

Fax grew into the game as the half wore on and Paul Marshall was unable to connect with Josh Wilson's cross shot seven minutes before the break.

Referee Peter Bankes provided the first half's major talking point three minutes later when he dismissed Wilson for stamping on Seddon.

His decision looked harsh on first viewing and replays there was little intent from Wilson.

Given the hosts position in the table, there was not too much sympathy for Wilson and the Blues went close to hitting the front almost immediately.

Glennon struggled to keep hold of Mahon's teasing low cross but Killock was unable to force the ball home from close range.

Taylor then headed against the bar, although but the on-loan striker had been flagged offside and the Shaymen survived as the sides went into the break level.

Fax boss Aspin replaced Lenighan with Marlon Jackson as he looked to deal with being reduced to 10 men as the Blues looked to maked the extra man count.

John Rooney should have done better on 49 minutes when he dragged wide from just outside the box after being allowed too much room.

Burr urged his side forward and the breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Lewis Turner sent over a fine cross from the right and Mahon stole in to put the Blues ahead.

Fax looked to get back on level terms and Chapman did well to shovel behind a dangerous Ryan Crowther free kick before tipping a goal-bound Paul Marshall corner over the bar.

With neither side unable to keep the ball under control, the game became scrappy midway through the second period.

Chapman had given a commanding display in goal for the hosts but his impressive debut was cut short on 70 minutes when the 6ft 8ins keeper dislocated a finger and had to be replaced with Danby.

Taylor saw his shot on the turn deflected wide on 75 minutes and Turner was unable to keep his cross in play after Rooney released him with a deft pass.

Fax created little but as has so often been the case this season the Blues' tendency to concede late on looked to have cost them another priceless win.

Roberts' long throws caused problems all evening and he hurled the ball into the penalty area on 94 minutes and Bolton fired past Danby on the turn to break Chester hearts.

But football often throws up the unexpected and what happened next was hard to believe.

With seconds left on the clock, the Blues lumped the ball forward and Rooney tussled with Roberts before the ball ricocheted into the box.

Late substitute Menagh showed more desire than the Fax defence and stole in to poke beyond Glennon and win the game for the Blues.

Chester FC: Chapman (Danby 70), Turner, Killock, Brown, Heath, Rooney, Jarrett, Bond, Mahon (Menagh 87), Taylor (Reed 90), Seddon.

Subs: Linwood, Mainwaring.

Goals: Mahon 55, Menagh 90.

Booked: Rooney, Heath, Bond.

Halifax FC: Glennon, Bolton, Roberts, Ainge, McManus, Maynard, Lenighan (Jackson 45), Crowther (Smith 73), Marshall, Wilson, Gregory.

Subs: Senior, Challinor, Worthington.

Goal: Bolton 90.

Booked: Ainge.

Sent off: Wilson

Referee: Peter Bankes (Liverpool)

Attendance: 2,127.