CHESTER secured a battling point at Saltergate this afternoon courtesy of Paul Linwood’s second goal of the season.
The City skipper headed his side into an early lead and then turned in a man of the match display at centre-back as Chesterfield launched a series of second-half attacks.
Livewire forward Jamie Ward drew the hosts level on 59 minutes but the Blues held firm to register a hard-earned draw.
City boss Simon Davies made two changes to the side beaten on penalties by Morecambe in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday. Laurence Wilson and Richie Partridge were ruled out through injury, so Shaun Kelly and Ryan Lowe were handed recalls. Striker Paul Taylor missed out altogether through illness but midfielder Damien Mozika passed a pre-match fitness test on a groin injury.
Chesterfield forward Ward tested the strength of the City crossbar after only four minutes. He cut inside Shaun Kelly with ease and thudded a right-footed shot off the woodwork with John Danby well beaten.
Four minutes later, Derek Niven sent a 25-yard drive just over but the hosts were stunned on 17 minutes when Chester took the lead.
Mozika won a free-kick on the left wing and Lowe’s pinpoint cross was glanced into the top corner of keeper Trevor Carson’s net by Linwood.
The goal did little to ease the pressure on under-fire Chesterfield boss Lee Richardson, who was subjected to sporadic chants of “Rico out” from the disgruntled home crowd.
The Blues played confidently throughout the rest of the first half but were unable to add to their tally. As referee David Phillips blew his whistle for half time, loud boos rang out around three sides of the ground as the players headed for the dressing rooms – a reflection of how well the visiting team had played.
However, Chesterfield regrouped for the second period and began to force their way back into the game.
They levelled 14 minutes into the second half through Ward, who was allowed too much time and space in the box to pull down Jamie Lowry’s right wing cross and fire the ball into the bottom corner.
Chester had to soak up plenty of pressure from the hosts and Paul McManus was sacrificed as boss Davies bolstered his midfield by introducing Jay Harris.
The former Accrington midfielder was the instigator of a rare breakaway for the Blues on 77 minutes. He played through Lowe, but the City forward’s left-footed shot was straight at Carson.
Chester had to soak up plenty of late pressure from the Spireites, but with Linwood in inspirational form at the heart of their defence, they held out for a draw.
Chesterfield: Carson, Robertson (Winter 54), Lowry, Page, Ward, Niven, Currie (Teixeira 88), Goodall, Lester, Downes, Boden (Kerry 54). Subs: Austin, Harsley. Booked: Goodall, Ward. Goal: Ward 59.
Chester: Danby, J Vaughan, Linwood, Kelly, Roberts, Hughes, Barry, Mozika, McManus (Harris 63), Lowe (Rutherford 88), Ellison. Subs: S Vaughan, Mannix, Williams. Booked: Harris, Lowe. Goal: Linwood 17.
Referee: David Phillips (Sussex).