CHRIS Holroyd’s brace put Chester’s promotion bandwagon back on the rails at the Fraser Eagle Stadium on Saturday (January 5).
Having suffered three consecutive defeats over the festive period, the Blues needed to show plenty of character and resolve to claim a point against Accrington and stay on the coattails of the play-off race.
While some familiar old problems came back to haunt them – most notably a failure to defend set pieces – boss Bobby Williamson will now be hoping that his team’s nightmare run over Christmas has been banished from the memory banks.
City started brightly and claimed a fully-deserved early lead through Chris Holroyd, who slid the ball home from close quarters after Paul Linwood had headed Laurence Wilson’s free-kick back across goal. Soon after, Richie Partridge blazed over a volley from six yards following a Holroyd cross as Chester looked for a killer second goal.
Accrington punished the visitors for their wastefulness seven minutes before the break when Andrew Procter applied a spectacular finish to Ian Craney’s free-kick, volleying a firm shot beyond John Danby.
Teenage centre-back Shaun Kelly replaced the unwell Paul Butler at the heart of Chester’s defence for the second half and the game began to open up, with chances coming at either end. As well as four goals, the second period also produced two penalty appeals for City – but referee Keith Hill refused to point to the spot after Holroyd and Kevin Roberts appeared to be fouled in the area.
Stanley kicked-off a frantic 22-minute spell by taking the lead on 63 minutes through Craney, who looped a shot over Danby’s head after the Chester keeper could only parry Roscoe D’Sane’s effort.
Chester’s response was swift and they were back on level terms within five minutes, Wilson curing a precise right-footed shot into the top corner of Ian Dunbavin’s net from the edge of the box.
City’s inability to defend set-pieces once again proved to be their Achilles heel when D’Sane – one of the smallest players on the pitch – stole in at the near post to head in a Craney corner 16 minutes from time.
But the visitors refused to throw the towel in and clawed themselves level three minutes later. While Holroyd’s second of the game won’t win any goal of the season competitions, his tap-in from a yard out following a cross by Linwood sparked enthusiastic celebrations from City’s players and travelling fans alike.
Accrington Stanley: Dunbavin, Richardson, Roberts, Webb (Williams 66), Edwards, Craney, Proctor, Harris (Dennehy 84), Todd, Mullin, D’Sane. Subs: Fearon, McGivern, Miles.
Goals: Proctor 37, Craney 63, D'Sane 74.
Chester: Danby, Vaughan, Linwood, Butler (Kelly 46), Newton, Partridge (McManus 90), Hughes, Roberts, Welsh, Wilson, Holroyd. Subs: Ward, Marples, Rutherford.
Goals: Holroyd 9, Wilson 68, Holroyd 78.
Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire).