CHRISTMAS came early for Chester City, but it was another depressing performance which did nothing to lift their fans' festive spirits, writes Ian Bedford.
The last-minute penalty was a gift they didn't deserve and merely papered over the cracks which are widening and worrying for Ian Rush who badly needed a victory to stop the alarming slide into the relegation zone.
Shrewsbury - the Blues' fellow travellers in last season's momentous journey back into the Football League - will have been bitterly disappointed they didn't take all three points. There's no doubt they deserved them, a fact Rush was only too happy to concede.
This was, as he admitted, a point gained in a predictably highly-charged derby game which had three red cards, although the last was issued so late it made no difference to the outcome of the match.
For most of the game both teams had 10 men but it was Shrewsbury who looked more likely to win, particularly in the second half when they were rewarded for a spell of severe pressure.
The first red card, shown to ex-City defender Darren Moss, was deserved, Moss taking Ellison down with a thigh-high tackle which had been coming since the two had confronted each other only a few minutes earlier.
Ellison got involved with Jamie Tolley not long after being booked, which didn't impress his manager, and City's reputation for in-discipline continued to grow - along with the list of matches since they last won a league game.
For the neutral spectator there could have been no doubt this was a game between two teams from the lower end of League Two. There was little quality anywhere on the pitch and, significantly, the player with the most ability, Michael Branch, hardly had a kick.
When he did get the chance to make his mark from the penalty spot, his first attempt was poor and he must have been relieved when a sharp-eyed assistant spotted that goalkeeper Scott Howie had moved off his line.
Branch's second shot was well wide of Howie and City had saved a point, but it was a hollow success which brought only temporary joy for the home fans who, in the cold light of day, will concede that this simply wasn't good enough.