BRACKLEY Town’s first ever visit to Chester FC’s Exacta Stadium brought frustration for the runaway league leaders and a deserved draw for third-placed Saints after a game of few chances.
Played under clear blue skies in front of 2,689 supporters, Chester produced little of their slick passing game that won convincingly at St James Park in December as Brackley stuck to a tight game-plan, producing a disciplined battling performance.
With Glenn Walker, Tom Winters and Eddie Odhiambo missing through illness or injury, Jon Brady produced a team for the occasion with Michael Corcoran and Elliot Sandy making rare starts and centre-back Tom Sharpe making his full debut alongside Ryan Austin.
First half threats on goal came through Ben Mills’ header on 19 minutes – guided just wide, a short back-pass to Turley that the keeper bravely scrambled to safety and Chester right-back Wes Baynes’ well-flighted cross that failed to find a touch for the first goal on 38 minutes.
After the interval, the expected onslaught from the home side failed to materialise. The closest the Blues came to breaking the deadlock was from striker Nathan Jarman on 62 minutes when his neat turn and shot was comfortably saved by Turley.
Saints worked hard for the clean-sheet with every player knowing his role and fulfilling it diligently. Blues’ keeper John Danby had a largely untroubled afternoon as Saints’ forward forays were sporadic.
Outstanding performances from Ryan Austin, Curtis McDonald and Tom Sharpe, who was named the sponsors’ Brackley Town Man of the Match, were matched by Turley’s vocal and reassuring presence in goal and Michael Corcoran’s assured midfield display.
But above all else this was a fine team performance, Saints being the first this season to leave the Exacta with a clean sheet and only the second to take a point.
Brackley Town: Turley, Clifton, McDonald, Corcoran (Robinson 88), Sharpe, Austin, Mulligan, Solkhon, Louis, Sandy, Nisevic (Story 85).
Subs not used: Diggin, Johnson, L.Walker.
Chester: Danby, Baynes, McGinn, Horan, Linwood, Turner, Hankin, Sarcevic, Jarman (Gray 77), Mills (M.Williams 53), D.Williams (Howard 81).
Sub not used: A.Williams, Collins.
Referee: Simon Bennett
Assistants: Ross Crawford and Nigel Day