FC Halifax Town suffered their fifth defeat in six games as they were beaten 2-1 at Chester.
It was better from The Shaymen, although it could hardly have been worse than Tuesday night, as they pushed Chester all the way despite falling 2-0 down thanks to goals in each half from James Roberts and Johnny Hunt.
Jordan Burrow’s 11th goal of the season halved the deficit, which looked like being wiped out altogether as Halifax pressed for an equaliser that seemed a long way off after an hour.
It may be another defeat, Town’s 12th in 18 games, and on the balance of play, probably deserved, but it at least represented progress, albeit incremental, from recent outings.
Tommy Miller and Nat Brown were added to the Town squad ahead of the game, with Connor Hughes, on a month’s loan to Bradford Park Avenue, and Danny Racchi, on a free to Tamworth, heading out of the club.
It’s now four new signings from Darren Kelly in his first two weeks; is it any wonder after conceding 18 goals in four games?
Kelly was keen to add experience and leadership to his squad, and he’s certainly got that in 34-year-old Brown and 36-year-old former Premier League midfielder Miller.
Brown made his first start since Lincoln’s 2-0 defeat at Lincoln at the end of August and only his third appearance of the season, and was a vocal presence in the centre of Town’s back three from the start.
Halifax started well with long-range efforts by Kieran Sadlier and Scott McManus durin a composed first 10 minutes, but their defensive frailties surfaced again when Ben Heneghan twice going close.
Halifax failed to deal with a corner, then were static from a free-kick into the box, but both times the Chester man failed to find the net from no more than six yards out.
The chances soon racked up from the hosts, with John Rooney, Craig Mahon and Tom Shaw all firing at goal as Town were pegged back.
A particularly vocal section of the away supporters set off a flare in the midst of all that shortly before a loud bang behind Matt Glennon’s goal, which was where most of the action was to be found.
Mahon and Rooney were their usual busy selves, finding space inside the Town half to instigate Chester attacks.
At the other end, CJ Hamilton, again deployed up-front with Jordan Burrow, had more joy than at Grimsby on Tuesday, and looked a threat with his pace against a Chester defence without a clean sheet in six matches.
That, of course, was small beer compared to Town’s run of 25 games without a shut-out, which was almost inevitably extended yet again.
Just before half-time, Hamilton gave the ball away before Halifax missed a chance to clear the ball, allowing Roberts to side-step Matty Brown and sweep the ball past Glennon.
It was quite a moment for the Chester man, making only his second appearance of the season and his first appearance since the death of his younger brother, who scored only his second goal of 2015.
That was Chester 10th attempt of the first-half, but the game seemed to be drifting towards the interval without a goal or even another chance.
However, like at Grimsby, just as Town looked to have got to grips with the hosts, their Achilles heel struck again.
As if Halifax’s problems at one end weren’t bad enough, things were starting to look bleak at the other; Town had failed to register a shot since McManus’ early effort and were set to pass four hours without a goal soon after the restart.
Town switched to a back four for the second-half and a diamond in midfield, but it made little difference as Hunt marauded into the box after a superb one-two with Ross Hannah before finishing confidently past Glennon for his first goal since the opening day of the season.
That prompted another flare in the away end, and those vocal Town fans to sing about wanting to go home.
Jon Worsnop was properly tested for the first time when Jordan Burrow’s flick header from Nicky Wroe’s cross was brilliantly tipped over.
The four-hour mark without a goal came and went, but slowly, the tide started to turn, with Town finally starting to win some headers in Chester’s final third.
Burrow went close again midway through the second-half with a volley across goal after good work from Shaun Tuton.
But, after that combination teamed up again, with Tuton finding Burrow in too much space to the left of the penalty area, Halifax’s top-scorer buried his finish in off Worsnop’s near post.
The Chester fans were anxious now, with murmurs of discontent that their side had taken their foot off the gas.
There was certainly an extra spring in Town’s step, with Kevin Roberts’ curling shot well saved and held by Worsnop.
It was end-to-end stuff now as the game became increasingly stretched, with Sadlier volleying just wide before Ian Sharps produced a superb block from Hamza Bencherif’s effort inside the box, while Rooney shot just off target for the hosts.
Town deserved credit for making a game of it after Hunt’s goal, and the visitors could have salvaged an unlikely draw with a little luck.
Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Kay, Sharps, Hunt, Heneghan, Roberts (Richards 53), Mahon, Shaw, Rooney (Hughes 90), Hannah (Hobson 90). Subs not used: Forth, Chapell.
Scorers: Roberts (44), Hunt (55)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 8
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, Banton (Roberts 46), N Brown, M Brown, James, Wroe, Sadlier (Bencherif 83), McManus, Burrow, Hamilton (Tuton 46). Subs not used: Porter, Macdonald.
Scorer: Burrow (73)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 4
Town man of the match: Jordan Burrow