Chester FC’s hopes of starting 2018 with three points were dashed with the last kick of the game as fellow relegation battlers Guiseley snatched a share of the spoils at the death.

The Blues were seconds away from a precious win in their hunt for National League survival after Kingsley James fired them into the lead just after the hour mark.

But after being good value for the points, Ash Palmer slammed home through a crowd of bodies to level the contest and break Blues hearts.

It was a far better showing from the Blues who looked more sound defensively, but one point from what should have been three makes things even more difficult at the bottom.

Marcus Bignot made four changes to the side that lost 2-0 to the Lions on Boxing Day with James Akintunde, Paul Turnbull, Andy Halls and John McCombe all coming into the side in place of the injured Ross Hannah, Tom Shaw, James Jones and the suspended Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

Despite not having a game on Saturday after the scheduled clash with Hartlepool United was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Chester actually moved up a spot in to 21st after results went against them. But remaining eight points off safety, the Blues needed a result in Yorkshire to finally put to bed 2017 - their annus horribulus - and get 2018 off on a positive footing.

Bignot opted to go 4-4-2 for the game with Halls taking on role of the holding midfielder in front of the back four.

The opening 15 minutes offered little in the way of action at either end.

Turnbull saw a 25-yard effort drag well wide on seven minutes before Sam Hornby had to be alert to race out and block Rowan Liburd on the edge of the box after he had been set free by James Roberts.

But the Lions saw the woodwork deny them on 16 minutes when Liburd broke free before unleashing a 12 yard angled effort that crashed off the corner of Hornby’s goal and away to safety.

It was scrappy stuff, not aided by some overly officious refereeing from Matthew Diciccio.

Chances were at a premium, with Roberts’ 20 yard freek kick sailing harmlessly over just before the half hour mark.

Chester were almost punished on 38 minutes when a misplaced Turnbull pass was seized upon by Roberts who proceeded to run at Ryan Astles before shooting low from the edge of the box with Hornby down well to save.


The second half started in much the same vein as the first had ended, with neither side able to string together anything of any real quality.

But the hosts did have a great chance on 51 minutes when Liburd found room to cross low across the six-yard box where Callum McFadzean was lurking, but he couldn’t get a foot to it to turn it into an empty net.

Two minutes later Chester thought they had taken the lead.

A Turnbull corner was whipped in and evaded everyone but Astles at the far post who stabbed home.

Any joy was short-lived, though, as the linesman raised his flag following an infringement in the box in the build up to the goal.

Roberts went close again on the hour mark for the home side with a smart swivel and shot from 20 yards that flashed just wide of Hornby’s goal.

But 60 seconds later Chester had the lead.

James Akintunde raced forward to exploit some space before sliding a ball to James who composed himself before tucking the ball away in the far corner.

Five minutes later and Chester had a penalty shout turned down when Ash Palmer looked to have handled in the box under some Blues pressure, but referee Diciccio was having none of it, waving away the Chester protests.

Guiseley were labouring in a bid to restore parity and the Blues back line was holding firm with McCombe and Astles winning their aerial battles while Turnbull was proving effective in breaking up play in midfield.

The final five minutes proved to be backs to the wall stuff for Chester as Guiseley pressed for a leveller.

And they came close on 86 minutes when a McFadzean corner found substitute Mike Fondop, whose effort was pushed away by Hornby before going out for a goal kick in the melee that followed.

With four minutes added on, Chester were seconds away from all three points but they had their resistance broken with what proved to be the last kick of the game.

McFadzean put the ball into the box and Hornby opted to punch instead of catch, with a scramble ensuing before Palmer lashed through a crowd of bodies to break Chester’s resistance.

It was rough on the Blues.


Guiseley: Maxted, Brown, Palmer, Lawlor (Koue Niate 43), McFadzean, Purver, Lenighan (Odejayi 65), Liburd, Harvey, Crookes, Roberts. Subs not used: Odejayi, Hughes, Sheppard.


Goals: Palmer 93+1.

Chester: Hornby, Halls, McCombe, Astles, Turnbull, Dawson (Shaw 87), Hall-Johnson, Gough, James, Akintunde (Mahon 84), White (Udoh 72). Subs not used: Lynch, Jones.

Bookings: Halls, Udoh.

Goals: James 61.

Referee: Matthew Diciccio.

Attendance: 855.

Star man: Paul Turnbull.