AS an ex-Toffee, it might have been expected that Steve Watson could prove useful in a sticky situation.

Life was far from sweet at York City when the one-time Everton defender took over as manager in early January with the club hovering just above the relegation zone.

And, while losing all mathematical hope of reaching the National League North play-offs with three fixtures still to play would have been nobody’s idea of a satisfactory season at Bootham Crescent last summer, there can be little argument with Watson’s assertion after a 2-2 draw at Chester that progress has been made over the past three months.

In that time, the Minstermen have played 14 fixtures – the equivalent of one third of a sixth-tier campaign – and collected 22 points from a return of six wins, four draws and four defeats.

To put that form into some kind of context, only the division’s top-five teams – Stockport, Chorley, Brackley, Spennymoor and Altrincham – have managed bigger hauls during their last 14 contests.

In fact, Chorley have only acquired two more points than City over that period despite still being one behind table-topping Stockport.

Furthermore, fourth-placed Spennymoor have only mustered one more point than the Minstermen during that corresponding number of games ahead of their Good Friday visit to Bootham Crescent, whilst Altrincham and Telford, who currently occupy the final two play-off positions, have both collected two fewer.

Watson’s point-per-game ratio of 1.6 also overshadows that of his predecessors Sam Collins (1.1) and Martin Gray (1.4).

Perhaps frustratingly, for the ex-England under-21 international though, those statistics could easily have been much better.

In the club’s last 11 matches, the team have thrown nine points away from winning positions with February’s 2-1 defeat against Hereford having been followed by three draws in as many weeks during which leads have been surrendered.

Those nine points would now see City sitting two behind seventh-placed Telford, with the Shropshire side due to visit North Yorkshire on the final day of the season.

That game will now only be of significance to the visitors and this latest sharing of the spoils was arguably the most irritating, given that the lead was lost twice and Chester hadn’t even managed a shot of any description for more than an hour of this contest, but were still level at 1-1 following a calamitous Sean Newton own goal.

Indeed, the Minstermen, despite being most dominant in the first half, would finish the game having created twice as many chances as their hosts, who still harbour an outside hope of gate-crashing the top seven.

City stamped their authority on this fixture from the off and Scott Burgess played Macaulay Langstaff clear through the right channel on 12 minutes.

Langstaff could have perhaps been a little more clinical with his subsequent finish but home keeper Grant Shenton also deserved credit for being quick off his line to smother the shot.

A couple of Newton chances then saw the City centre-back clip the top of a defensive wall from a free kick before his looping header was pushed over the crossbar by Shenton.

Moke also teed up Langstaff, whose clever shimmy created space for a rising 25-yard shot that Shenton gathered at the second attempt.

Moments later, a long-range Burgess drive sailed off target before Moke opened the scoring on 35 minutes in emphatic fashion.

Finding the ball at his feet on the edge of the box, the former Glenn Hoddle Academy graduate bent a firm and precise strike beyond the reach of Shenton’s left arm.

In first-half stoppage time, a further Langstaff effort from distance was collected by Shenton and City subsequently made a purposeful restart when Jordan Burrow and Langstaff teed up a 15-yard chance for Alex Kempster that he lifted over.

It was Chester, however, that surprisingly grabbed the next goal, although it was mainly of City’s making.

Matty Waters’ free kick from the left was misjudged by a subsequently stranded Ryan Whitley and the ball then hit an unwitting Newton on the head and finished in the roof of the vacated visitors’ net.

The 48th-minute leveller, regardless of its source, proved a fillip for the home side and knocked the Minstermen out of their stride a little.

On 63 minutes, Simon Grand headed over Chester’s first attempt on goal from a Iwan Murray corner.

But City looked to have asserted their superiority on proceedings again when Langstaff tormented Matty Thomson with a twisting run through the left channel, which led to a low cross that expertly picked out Paddy McLaughlin.

The Irish midfielder’s low ten-yard shot then hit the inside of Shenton’s left-hand upright before the ball spun over the line despite the home keeper’s efforts to scramble it away from his goal.

Soon afterwards, a lunging Kempster couldn’t direct Kallum Griffiths’ right-wing cross on target and Chester went on to grab their second equaliser on 73 minutes after an Anthony Dudley shot had been diverted away from goal by Moke’s block.

From the consequent corner, Murray swung in a left-wing delivery that centre-back Danny Livesey helped on with George Waring sweeping home a ten-yard shot in off Whitley’s far post.

The Minstermen threw on both Jon Parkin and Jake Wright late on in a bid to forge in front for a third time, but it was to no avail, as Chester mustered the game’s final two chances.

First, a long free kick into the box by Shenton saw Grand’s header caught comfortably by Whitley before Bradley Jackson’s curling 25-yard attempt was also a good height for the teenage City keeper.

City ratings

Ryan Whitley 5

Kallum Griffiths 7

Jasper Moon 7

Sean Newton 6

David Ferguson 6

Adriano Moke 8

Scott Burgess 7

Paddy McLaughlin 7

Alex Kempster 6

Jordan Burrow 6

Macaulay Langstaff 8

Subs: Jon Parkin (for Kempster, 80), Jake Wright (for Burrow, 89)

Subs not used: Adam Bartlett, Hamza Bencherif, Wes York.

Star man: Moke – spectacular goal and did his share of defensive work and chasing back

Chester: Grant Shenton, Matty Thomson, Danny Livesey, Simon Grand, Matty Waters, Bradley Jackson, Scott Burton (Iwan Murray, 62), Gary Roberts, Craig Mahon (Jamal Crawford, 80), George Waring, George Green (Anthony Dudley, 62). Subs not used: Steve Howson, Ben McKenna.

Chester star man: Livesey – strong presence at both ends of the pitch

Referee: Aaron Bannister 8/10 – in control of game throughout

Booked: Waters 72, Waring 90+2, Roberts 90+4

Sent off: None

Attendance: 1,772

Shots on target: Chester 3, City 6

Shots off target: Chester 2, City 4

Corners: Chester 6, City 7

Fouls conceded: Chester 12, City 11

Offside: Chester 2, City 4