CHESTER dropped points for only the fifth time this season as 10-man Workington produced a heroic performance to earn a point at a freezing Borough Park.
The Reds had Lee Andrews sent off in the fifth minute for a professional foul and fell behind to a diving Marc Williams header six minutes minute into the second half.
But Darren Edmondson’s team equalised almost immediately and in the end fully deserved to take a share of the spoils.
The result meant Neil Young’s men stretched their unbeaten Blue Square Bet North run to 22 matches, breaking the league record set by Eastwood Town two years ago.
It also meant they maintained their 16-point lead at the top as second-placed Guiseley had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Colwyn Bay.
Blues boss Young named an unchanged side to the one that started at Corby Town on Saturday after the injury sustained by Antoni Sarcevic in the 2-1 victory proved not as serious as first feared.
But Young did find a spot on the bench for new signing Lee Trundle.
That resulted in there being no place in the 16-man matchday squad for fans’ favourite Ben Mills, who Young revealed after the game is joining league rivals Altrincham on loan for a month.
The departure of Mills, whose long-term future remains at the Exacta Stadium, will allow Young to sign Crewe Alexandra winger Brendon Daniels on a one-month loan deal.
Workington, in confident mood after beating play-off pushing Altrincham, started like a house on fire.
But their hopes of claiming an even bigger scalp were seemingly damaged by the early dismissal of Andrews.
Referee Peter Wright made the decision to give Andrews his marching orders after he adjudged the right-back to have hauled down Nathan Jarman when the striker was bearing down on goal.
The red card, however, did little to disrupt the home team’s momentum and in a frantic start to the match they came closest to opening the scoring.
Joe McGee played a clever one-two with Gareth Arnison to carve the Chester defence wide open.
But his left-footed shot was brilliantly saved by John Danby, who rushed out of his goal to close down the winger.
The visitors had their chances too in an engrossing opening 20 minutes.
Marc Williams forced Joel Dixon into action following a precise Matty McGinn cross before a brave block from Gari Rowntree denied Jarman a certain goal after Danny Williams collected a crossfield Wes Baynes pass and pulled the ball back across the box.
For the rest of the half the Blues struggled to break down the hard-working and fired-up Reds, too often giving the ball away cheaply.
But a moment of quality led to them breaking the deadlock in the 51st minute.
Sarcevic’s first-time cross was a good one and so too was Marc Williams’ finish, the forward stooping low to nod the ball past Dixon from close range.
What followed two minutes later was not in the script.
Nathan Turner lost possession in midfield and Rowntree advanced to the edge of the area before unleashing a powerfully struck shot that brushed the underside of the bar before flashing into the net.
Young responded by bringing on Trundle for his debut and within minutes of his arrival the former Wrexham and Swansea City man had a strong penalty appeal turned down.
Trundle also saw an effort deflect wide as Chester searched for a winner, a search that was ultimately in vain.
Workington: Dixon, Andrews, Johnson, Wordsworth, Rowntree, Boyd (Greenhalgh 70), Hewson, McLuckie, J Wright (A Wright 84), McGee, Arnison (Owusu-Andrews 75). Subs: Manship, Taylor.
Sent off: Andrews 5.
Goal: Rowntree 52.
Chester: Danby, Baynes, Horan, Linwood, D Williams, Hankin, Sarcevic, N Turner, McGinn (Howard 75), M Williams (A Williams 65), Jarman (Trundle 63). Subs: Collins, Gray.
Booked: M Williams, Horan.
Goal: M Williams 51.
Referee: Peter Wright (Southport).