by Alex Birch
The Magpies came within 12 minutes of stunning League One promotion hopefuls Doncaster Rovers, but had to settle for a replay at the Keepmoat Stadium, after a pulsating FA Cup tie.
Chorley: Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague (c), Leather, Meppen-Walter, Glynn (Whitham, 74’), O’Keefe (Cottrell, 28’), Carver, Almond (Anson, 64’), E.Newby. Subs not used: A.Newby, Wilson, Jordan, Eccles.
Doncaster: Lawlor, Mason, Andrew, Butler (c), Wilks, Whiteman, Marquis, Anderson, Kane, Blair (May, 46’), Coppinger. Subs not used: Marosi, Crawford, Ben Khemis, Longbottom, Amos, Blaney.
The Magpies led after less than two minutes. Blakeman’s driven corner was dispatched back past Ian Lawlor by Josh O’Keefe’s head to give the home side a dream start.
It didn’t last long, however, as Herbie Kane equalised on 11 minutes, reacting quickest to a rebound after Matt Urwin had saved brilliantly from John Marquis.
Chorley rallied, with Marcus Carver forcing Lawlor into a terrific stop at his near post after great approach play by Elliot Newby, but Rovers remained a big threat and should have taken the lead only for Scott Leather’s brilliant goal-line clearance.
Elliot went close when teed up by a combination of Leather and Adam Blakeman, as Chorley stood firm and matched their League One opponents in an end-to-end first half.
Mallik Wilks should have given Doncaster the lead, but despite going clean through he could only hit the post. And then, sub Jake Cottrell got away down the left, his cross was deflected into the path of Courtney Meppen-Walter, and the big defender’s half volley went in off the post.
The visitors started the second half on the front foot, keeping the ball and looking dangerous when they moved forward. Veteran forward James Coppinger had the majority of Victory Park worried when his snap shot whistle just wide of Urwin’s far post.
Then the moment that could potentially have changed the game. Matt Challoner challenged Kane on the edge of the Chorley area just after the hour, Kane crumpled in a heap, and the ref produced a red card.
The pressure was mounting, Mallik Wilks hit the side netting, Urwin produced two wonder saves one after the other, but that bit of magic was missing. Until Liverpool loanee Kane picked the ball up 25 yards out, took a touch, and curled a stunner into the top corner to level the tie with 12 minutes remaining.
On a rare foray forward Blakeman tested the reflexes of Lawlor with a 30-yard free kick, before Alfie May wasted the best chance of the final exchanges, shanking wide when it was easier to score.
That’s what he said
“We’re excited to be in the hat, but overall I’ve a horrible feeling in my stomach that what if we could have hung on. But Doncaster are one of the better sides we could have drawn and we’ll go again at their place – Jamie Vermiglio
HT 2-1 / FT 2-2
Goals: O’Keefe (2’), Meppen-Walter (43’); Kane (11’ & 78’)
Cautions: Wilson (61’), E.Newby (72’), Carver (81’), Whitham (85’); Blair (42’), Whiteman (81’), Anderson (82’)
Dismissals: Challoner (61’)
Shots: Chorley 8 Doncaster 19
Fouls: Chorley 13 Doncaster 12
Corners: Chorley 5 Doncaster 9
Referee: Ross Joyce
Assistants: David Avent & Stephen Wade
Fourth official: David McNamara
Weather: Cool & sunny
Another big game; the promotion clash against Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough on Saturday (3pm).
Coach travel is available to book for this trip in the club shop all week priced £12.50 adults & £10.50 accompanied under-16s.