Chester 0-0 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town remain without a goal or a win this season after drawing 0-0 at Chester.

The Shaymen were the better side on the balance of play and much improved from their first two games of the campaign.

But the niggling doubt over their lack of cutting edge up-front remains, with Halifax now waiting four-and-a-half hours for their first goal of the season.

The fact that both teams were nearly in double figures for shots off target told the story of the match; there was no shortage of effort but quality on the ball was too often lacking.

Chester’s last home win came almost exactly eight months ago on December 17, and on this evidence, they may be in for a bit more of a wait to break that run.

But Town should have turned their first-half display into what would have been a decisive goal before they tailed off after the break.

Billy Heath’s satisfaction in the 0-0 draw at Barrow on Tuesday was emphasised by his sole change from that game, with Matty Kosylo replacing the injured Martin Riley, although Town started with a rejigged 4-5-1.

After what Heath described as a “rusty” first-half at Barrow, Bohan Dixon picked up where he left off on Tuesday with an all-action display, driving forward on the ball, picking out intelligent passes and winning loose balls.

The likes of Dixon, who did Oliver and Kosylo strung together some nice passages of play, but Town still appeared to lack the cutting edge of a ruthless striker to put the ball in the net.

So did Chester though, with Ross Hannah spurning two good chances inside the first quarter of an hour, the first an especially presentable opportunity when he volleyed wide inside a packed penalty box from 10 yards.

Halifax looked far more comfortable on the ball, thanks to the aforementioned trio, although they did fade as the game went on, and enjoyed some decent possession inside the opposition half, unlike against Aldershot and Barrow.

Chester were giving the ball away nearly every time they got it, with too many of their crosses straight to Sam Johnson, who remained untested throughout the first-half.

Tom Denton was a peripheral figure, with a chance for the striker all that was missing to cap off The Shaymen’s encouraging display. One did arrive after 35 minutes, but Ryan Astles was alert to clear his header off the line from the excellent Michael Duckworth’s cross.

Town’s superiority merited a goal, but they hadn’t been incisive enough to create more clear cut chances.

Only a magnificent last-ditch tackle by John McCombe prevented Nathan Hotte from getting a sight of goal moments before half-time.

Both sides went close just after the interval, with Andy Halls and Kosylo firing narrowly off target, before Kosylo’s replacement Josh Macdonald’s cross was tipped onto the bar after he burst past left-back Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

The quality of the game was plunging though, with neither team showing anywhere near enough craft or creativity to keep the ball for more than 10 seconds, never mind get a sight of goal.

Adam Morgan was brought on for his first appearance of the season in an effort to break Town’s goalless run, which by now stretched to over four hours, and showed no sign of ending.

Chester looked equally toothless going forward though, although McCombe did go close with a header from a set-piece; open-play offered no prospect of a goal this side of midnight.

A sumptuous cross-field pass by Oliver was completely at odds with the scrappy, shabby state of the match, which disintegrated awfully to such an extent that neither team could barely string three passes together.

There was a late flurry of chances, with the otherwise disappointing Dion Charles going close at one end before Sam Johnson kept out substitute James Akintunde’s shot with an outstanding save to preserve Town’s point.

Chester: Mitchell, Halls, McCombe, Astles, Rowe-Turner, Mahon (Chapell 79), Turnbull, James, Dawson, Hannah, White (Akintunde 68). Subs not used: Lynch, Davies, Joyce.

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 10

Corners: 3

Halifax: Johnson, Garner, Brown, Hotte, Duckworth (McManus 46), Dixon (Morgan 73), Oliver, Wilde, Kosylo (Macdonald 56), Charles, Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Tomlinson.

Shots on target: 1

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 3

Referee: Peter Gibbons

Attendance: 2,082

Town man of the match: Matty Brown