An injury-time strike from Ross Hannah salvaged a point for Chester FC at bottom-of-the-table Torquay United.
Off the bench, Hannah flicked home a Tom Shaw ball to bag a share of the spoils in a contest where they were second best for long periods.
A George Dowling goal in the first half looked to have won it for the Gulls and heap more pressure on Blues boss Jon McCarthy only for Hannah to level at the death.
McCarthy came into the clash under considerable pressure following the dismal 2-0 home loss to Macclesfield Town on Monday, a game where boos, jeers and calls for the manager’s head emanated from sections of the home faithful.
And with the club chief executive Mark Maguire coming out publicly in the week stating that results needed to improve, McCarthy was faced with having to glean something from their trip to Devon.
Torquay’s start to the National League season could hardly have been worse.
Bottom of the table with just one point, the managerless Gulls parted ways with boss Kevin Nicholson earlier in the month and had lost their last six league games coming into the game.
The game started at a quick tempo with the home side taking the game to Chester early on.
Luke Young curled a 30-yard free kick just over on three minutes before James Gray headed a right-wing cross at Alex Lynch from eight yards on eight minutes.
Gray then saw a first-time effort saved well by Lynch, but the Gulls would soon get their noses in front.
A Torquay cross from the right was only partially cleared by Andy Halls, whose header dropped to Dowling just outside the area and the debutant steadied himself before curling a fine shot in off the post.
Halls and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner were having afternoons to forget in the first half as the Gulls exploited plenty of space on the flanks.
Torquay almost doubled their advantage shortly after when a free kick into the box was flicked on and found Gray six yards out, but his snatched effort was palmed away by Lynch.
Ruairi Keating blazed into the side-netting moments later for the home side before Nyal Bell, back in the squad after suffering a facial injury in the season opener against AFC Fylde, latched on to a ball over the top but his touch let him down and Gulls debutant keeper Vincent Dorel was out well to gather.
Chester began to exert some pressure on their hosts and could have levelled on 20 minutes when John McCombe rose to meet a Craig Mahon corner only to see his header cannon back off the post before being hacked away.
Kingsley James was then guilty of profligacy when he latched on to James Akintunde’s cut back before seeing his 12-yard effort blazed over when he will feel he should have found the target.
Torquay were then guilty of their own wastefulness when Gray reacted to Ryan Astles’ slip on the halfway line, racing clear and bearing down on goal only to see his effort from 10 yards saved well by Lynch.
Chester began to ask more questions of Torquay’s back line and Akintunde did well when he cut in from the left only to see his low 20-yard effort saved well by Dorel, with the Gulls keeper having an excellent game between the sticks.
The Blues hit the woodwork for a second time on 42 minutes when a Mahon cross was hammered at James in the box by Myles Anderson and with the deflection dropping over Dorel and on to the crossbar.
And James could have restored parity moments later when he latched on to a through ball from Rowe-Turner, raced towards goal but saw his low strike saved by Dorel’s feet.
The Blues had one more chance before the half-time interval to get themselves back on level terms but Lucas Dawson saw his well-struck 30-yard free kick gathered well by the Gulls’ stopper Dorel.
While the first half started a breakneck speed the opening exchanges of the second were slightly more tepid.
It took 10 minutes of the second half for either side to make the respective keepers work, and Lynch had to react quickly to turn Ruairi Keating’s glanced header round the post from a Young corner.
The second half exploded into life on the hour mark, though, when Gray slammed home a superb volley to double the lead only to see it chalked off after McCombe took a boot to the face in the build up.
After a pause to consult with the linesman, referee Sam Purkiss disallowed the goal, much to the anger of those in the home congregation.
The let off didn’t spark Chester into life, though, and it was Torquay who looked the more likely to strike and Jamie Reid was unlucky to see his low 18-yard effort fly inches wide after he skipped two challenges before pulling the trigger.
The Gulls came close to adding a second on 73 minutes when Lynch had a rush of blood to the head and raced out to the corner flag to try and win a loose ball only to have Gray pinch the ball off him. But instead of squaring to an unmarked Keating, Gray went for glory and shot wide from a near impossible angle, much to the anger of his Irish teammate.
At the other end Bell was denied on 76 minutes when he turned his marker in the box and saw a close-range effort saved by the excellent Dorel.
As time ticked on the desperation from McCarthy to salvage something from the game was clear, with Jordan Chapell and Hannah both coming on in a final roll of the dice.
Torquay were still the aggressors, though, and Keating went close on 83 minutes when his glanced header flashed wide of Lynch’s right-hand post.
Five minutes of added time were given and Hannah latched on to Shaw’s ball to flick high into the net and salvage a point. A huge goal for both club and manager.
Torquay United: Dorel, McGinty, Young, Keating, Anderson, Gray, Reid, Haworth (Pittman 80), Higgins, Dowling, Cole. Subs not used: Fallon, Klukowski, Osborn, Mitchell
Goal: Dowling 13.
Chester: Lynch, Halls, Astles, McCombe (Chapell 76), Rowe-Turner, Mahon (Shaw 59), Dawson, Joyce, James, Akintunde (Hannah 76), Bell. Subs not used: Davies, Waters.
Goal: Hannah 90+1.
Referee: Sam Purkiss.
Attendance: 1,455 (151 from Chester).
Star man: Kingsley James.