CHESTER joint manager Anthony Johnson was in reflective mood after the Blues brought the curtain down on an up and down season with a frustrating 2-2 draw at ten man Alfreton.

There was nothing at stake for either side, but Chester's players will wonder how they didn't emerge with an away win after dominating for long periods against the injury hit Derbyshire outfit having taken the lead twice through Akwasi Asante and George Waring and seeing Tom Allen sent off for dissent early in the second half.

A fine late equaliser from Josh Wilde denied the visitors the three points they deserved with the full back completing his brace with a superb volleyed effort just nine minutes from time, but this was a game which epitomised a season in which 14 drawn games have cost Chester a play off place that was theirs for the taking.

"When you look back at the result it probably sums up our season because we've had far too many draws," said Johnson. "We've lost the same amount as Blyth, Telford and Bradford PA and we've missed out on the play offs by three points and it's because of the draws.

"We were excellent today and I thought we played some great stuff, but unfortunately we've switched off a couple of times and the left back has scored two goals.

"But I'm really pleased with how the lads applied themselves and I'm sure everyone who was here enjoyed how we played and you could see the pressure was off. We'd told the lads to just go and enjoy their football and we probably created more chances today than we have in our last ten games and that's just the way it goes sometimes - it should have been a hammering in all fairness."

With the shackles off and the freedom of knowing they were playing for pride, Chester immediately looked the part, stroking the ball around the Impact Arena and taking advantage of the strong wind behind the backs.

Just before the quarter hour mark, Craig Mahon did well to win a free kick on the edge of the box prompting the Blues to pull out one of their trademark free kick routines as Gary Roberts feinted to shoot before passing to Anthony Dudley who stroked it on to Asante to find the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season.

It was a stunning move and one right from the training ground that spurred Chester on to surge forward in search of a second. Waring was the next to have a chance after being put through by Asante before seeing his shot well saved by the feet of Tom Nicholson who was in fine form again moments later to block an effort from Bradley Jackson who sprinted on to a short back pass and got there just ahead of the onrushing keeper.

Alfreton looked a bit of a mess as half time approached and Nicholson was at it again just before the break after Mahon danced his way into the box and unleashed a shot which took a wicked deflection before the keeper readjusted and saved well.

It was as commanding a half of football that Chester had produced for a while and the pattern looked set to continue after the break when at the mid-point of the half referee Scott Simpson brandished a two yellow cards in quick succession at Allan following a lengthy discussion between the two that was less than cordial.

Down to ten men, all looked lost for the hosts, but just two minutes later they were level when Danny O'Brien surged down the right before placing a high cross into the middle of the box which was met by Wilde who bundled the ball home for a surprise equaliser.

With the home support still rubbing their eyes in disbelief, Chester took advantage and they retook the lead two minutes later through Waring who placed a header beyond Nicholson after the excellent Scott Burton had headed Mahon's deep cross back across goal.

That really should have been that for the visitors as they went in search of a fourth consecutive away win, but Alfreton would not lie down and with nine minutes to go until full time, Wilde chested the ball down 25 yards out before slamming a volley past Grant Shenton into the top corner for a brilliant leveller.

For the rest of the game Chester flooded the opposition box and almost grabbed a winner when Waring's hooked volley came back off the post with Nicholson beaten.

And so the the season ended with a tinge of disappointment despite a decent finish to the campaign that has seen joint managers Johnson and Bernard Morley oversee just one defeat in the last nine games.

"It bodes well," added Johnson. "Lads like Asante, Mahon, Waring and Dudley are starting to get that understanding of what's expected of them and when we put it all together we are a good team.

"We are as good as those teams in the play offs and we're not as good as the top three, but we know where we need to improve as a group and individually and today bodes well for the summer and the planning we have to do.

"It's the hardest part of the job telling lads 'thanks for everything you've done for us, but unfortunately we'll not be taking you on' so it will be a busy time but exciting too as we know what we want to get through the door.

"We've made our decisions on every single player and we started putting together our target list weeks and weeks ago and we are in a miles better position than we were 11 months ago."