"A well-earned point but we probably deserved all three," said Shots manager Andy Scott
Better late than never, Aldershot Town’s last-minute equaliser at Chester helped them take the first steps towards redemption and rehabilitation following their most difficult week of the season.
A smart header from substitute Jaydon Gibbs, in the final few seconds of normal time, helped strike a positive note after a torrid seven days of FA Cup failure.
The hosts, a single place above the Shots in the Skrill Premier table and themselves struggling for both confidence and form, scored their first goal in over eight hours of football, but a point was just reward for a greatly-improved performance from Aldershot Town.
With two debutants among another hastily replenished defence, Andy Scott’s side at least rediscovered a modicum of pride and resolve as goalkeeper Jonny Henly and left-back Dan Butler made impressive contributions.
“It’s the least we deserved,” argued Scott. “It would have been an absolute choker to come away with nothing from here.
"It’s a well-earned point but we probably deserved all three. Defensively we looked solid in blustery conditions and we’ve scored a good goal.
“We’ve had a lot of stick, and we’ve all had to hold our heads up and take a look at ourselves, but this was a committed display from a group of players that are desperate to do well.”
Shots were easily the better side throughout a first half of great endeavour and commitment but few chances.
Adam Mekki, making his first start since the opening day of the season when he fractured his shoulder, and Lewis Young threatened to capitalise upon the visitors’ strong start, with two shots that were blocked, yet Chester’s Joe Heath was profligate with a close-range header on 20 minutes.
Craig Stanley’s shot was agonisingly close to finding the net, and John Danby did well to palm Jordan Roberts’ 25-yard drive over the bar after Young’s free kick hit the wall.
The second half, though, belonged to Chester, even if neither side were overly blessed with creative skill.
Jason Jarrett was, however, indomitable in midfield, and the Blues capitalised upon the lack of quality in a fading Shots side and soon sensed that just a second win in nine games might be theirs.
Henly saved Lindfield’s angled shot, and Manny Oyeleke threw his body in the way of Lester’s effort, but a moment of brilliance from another debutant, Bolton Wanderers’ loanee Conor Wilkinson, finally broke the deadlock.
As Aldershot Town conceded a cheap free kick and Chester built down the right, he burst into the penalty area to shoot across Henly into the far corner of the net.
Almost immediately, Scott threw on Matt Paterson up front and switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
Danby flew to his right to save Roberts’ free kick and Aldershot might have been forgiven for thinking their chance had passed.
But belatedly, Gibbs made his entrance into the game and somehow found space on the six-yard line as Butler swung in a cross from deep. As Chester’s statuesque defence watched on, he placed a subtle header beyond Danby.
Makeshift right back Adam Webster might even have won the game in injury time, throwing himself headlong to get within inches of heading in Martin Rowlands’ free kick - but, with both managers trying to lay claim to moral victories, a draw was probably the right result.
Perhaps more importantly, it reminded Shots fans that their team retains the sort of spirit necessary to drag themselves clear of the relegation zone.