CHESTER’S great escape is back on after victory at the Fraser Eagle Stadium this afternoon.
Top-scorer Ryan Lowe slotted in his 17th goal of the season from the penalty spot to haul Mark Wright’s men above Grimsby Town and out of the League Two drop spots – for two hours at least.
Blues boss Wright unsurprisingly made four changes to the side that slumped to a disappointing defeat at home to Macclesfield Town 48 hours earlier.
Glenn Rule, David Mannix, Paul Rutherford and Richie Partridge were dropped to the bench and replaced by Shaun Kelly, Jay Harris, the fit-again Kevin Ellison and James Owen, for whom it was a first senior start.
Harris’ inclusion was met by jeers from the home faithful given the midfielder is one of five players facing serious sanctions for allegedly betting on Accrington to lose while registered with the Lancashire club last year.
Peter Cavanagh and Robbie Williams, who have also been charged by the FA for breaching betting rules, were given a mixed reception by their own fans after Stanley boss John Coleman handed them their first home starts since news of the betting scandal broke.
It was Harris who set the tone for a fully-committed opening-period performance from City which was in complete contrast to the first 45 minutes they produced against Macc.
Tigerish in the tackle, the outstanding Harris and midfield partners Owen and Anthony Barry did not allow the hosts to play the passing game that Coleman favours.
It was Accrington who had the first chance of the match, however, with Colin Murdock heading a deep John Miles corner just wide.
The visitors went close from a set-piece of their own shortly after, as Anthony Barry’s near-post corner was flicked on by Lowe, forcing Kenny Arthur into an instinctive save.
Lowe was then involved in a rapid breakaway move, also involving Owen and Ellison, which ended with Barry flashing a 30-yard drive past the post, before Ellison raced on to a lofted pass from Owen and tested Arthur from a difficult angle.
James Spencer then had to tip Williams’ cross-shot over the bar, but it was Chester who were looking the more dangerous and, after Owen scrambled a shot wide following a Barry corner, they took the lead in the 41st minute.
Lowe was brought down in the box by Murdock and the Blues striker made no mistake from the spot as he sent Arthur the wrong way.
Coleman took Murdock off at the break and switched to a 3-5-2 formation to mirror that of Wright’s.
But City were continuing to carve out the better chances, with Ellison smacking the post after the ball broke to him on the edge of the area.
That proved to be Ellison’s last action before limping off to be replaced by Ben Jones, who could have scored with his first touch.
From yet another Barry corner, captain Paul Linwood’s header hit the rookie striker, who spun well but saw his effort fly over the bar.
But Jones did not live to regret that miss as City held on for a victory which means they will survive if they win their final three games.
ACCRINGTON: Arthur, Cavanagh, Murdock (Charnock 46), Edwards, Williams, Turner (Grant 60), Ryan, Procter, Miles (Mullin 69), Symes, Lindfield. Subs: Hibbert, Kay.
CHESTER: Spencer, Vaughan, Kelly, Roberts, Linwood, Wilson, Harris, Owen (Rule 85), Barry, Lowe, Ellison (62). Subs: Mannix, Rutherford, Partridge.
GOAL: Lowe 41pen.
REFEREE: Tony Bates (Staffordshire).