Chester FC 2
Salisbury City 2
Half time: 1-1
A LATE leveller from Jamie White relegated heartbroken Chester as Salisbury City twice came from behind in the televised showdown to finish 12th in The Skrill Premier.
White’s 86th minute header caused emotional scenes at the Swansway Stadium with gutted home fans receiving the news that Hereford had struck a winner at Aldershot to leave Chester down on goal difference.
But the anxious hosts were geed on by a rowdy 3,000 plus crowd in front of the BT Sport cameras, and those nerves were eased after 14 minutes.
Jason Jarrett’s low driven shot took a fortuitous deflection off Danny Carlton, which wrong-footed Will Puddy and trickled into the bottom corner.
Although they were on course for safety, their midfielders were reckless in their passing and were dispossessed copious times by the City side, who were unchanged from Easter Monday’s thumping over Welling United.
Theo Lewis and Stuart Sinclair played their part in carving out half chances but didn’t get a clear vision at Aaron Chapman’s goalmouth until the interval was fast approaching.
A sweet delivery from Sinclair was met by Charlie Sheringham, who clenched his fist in delight of netting his fifth goal since coming on-loan.
The leveller swayed the confidence in City’s favour, and had Theo Lewis’s rasping drive and Sheringham’s three yard header been converted, Chester would have been in deep trouble going into the break.
But the 15 minute rest came at a crucial time as 11 minutes into the second period a miraculous strike from John Rooney, younger brother of Manchester United and England striker Wayne, regained Chester’s advantage.
That goal made the game wide open and with little creativity on offer, both teams mustered up plentiful chances.
Steve Burr’s men would have felt even more comfortable with a numerical advantage, had Angus MacDonald seen red for a crazy challenge on Craig Hobson – but the defender escaped with just a yellow.
Instead, City piled on the pressure and left Chester with their hearts in their mouths as White despatched Elliott Frear’s inswinging delivery to draw out an equaliser.
The information from Aldershot that Hereford had also just scored hit the stadium by storm and meant a goal from the hosts would see them avoid heading back to the Conference North.
And the crowd thought they had done it when Rooney’s curling cross scraped the woodwork, only for the diving Gareth Seddon to screw the rebound into the side netting.
“I feel for Chester,” said boss Mikey Harris, who helped his side end with 67 points during his 50th game in charge.
“It was a very strange atmosphere at the end of the match. We were going onto win the game and I was under the impression that the Hereford result had gone Chester’s way, but there was almost a silence at the final whistle.
“It must be a bitter pill to swallow – going down on goal difference. But I was delighted with the way our lads performed.
“It was a very positive way to end the season, which optimizes what we’ve achieved over the past nine months.
“I’m proud of them all.”
Salisbury (4-4-2): Puddy, Amankwaah (Fitchett, 89), Dutton (MacDonald, 74), Wilson (c), Brett, McPhee (R.Sinclair, 62), Lewis, S.Sinclair, Frear, White, Sheringham.
Subs not used: Roberts, Wellard.
Scorers: Sheringham (35), White (86).
Referee: Adrian Holmes (Castleford).
Star man: Brian Dutton MATCH FACTS: Shots on: 2/2 Shots off: 7/3 Corners: 1/5 Offsides: 10/2 Fouls: 9/8 Yellow cards: 0/2