Whoow, what a game!
On a night when goals were flying in across the Premier Division with the nine games averaging over four goals each, eight flew into the onion bag at Victory Park; Chorley netting six sandwiched between two Trafford strikes and a Darren Stephenson hat-trick to take him onto eight for the season.
Along with Chorley’s superb team effort, credit must also go to Trafford and the match referee for their parts in an entertaining game.
Trafford never wavered from their ethos of keeping the ball on the deck for the entire ninety minutes, playing the game as it should be when they are up against it while the referee, Mr M Denton, controlled the match with common sense throughout, treated the players as adults to earn their respect and allowed the game to flow to the point that I’ll credit him with the assist for Trafford 90th minute consolation!
Right from the kick-off the signs were there that this was going to be an entertaining spectacle with both sides playing football and it took less than a minute for the first shot to be registered when Tom Baker turned a Darren Stephenson cross toward goal only to see a deflection send it wide then three minutes later Josh Hine saw a headed from a Mark Ross cross gathered by visiting keeper Tom Read.
On eight minutes, and against the run of play, Trafford broke and it was a familiar site to Chorley supporters. Shelton Payne sprinted down the left flank before crossing into the box where Ally Brown finished from close range to give the visitors a surprise lead.
The goal shook Chorley who began to play longer balls forward and allowed Trafford more time on the ball, but once composures were regained the ball stayed mainly where it was meant to be, on the deck, and Chorley started to play.
As the opening 25 minutes continued (on 19 minutes) Hine fired narrowly wide from a Ross cross, straight down the other end Trafford marksman Michael Oakes did the same from a Brown cross, then Baker (24 minutes) blasted one over the bar then again immediately after a Chorley attack Trafford probed but Sam Ashton made a fine block with Keil O’Brien clearing from a Brown cross.
Then the equaliser arrived. Ross tackled Payne, hard and fair, then beat left back Andy Smart before lashing in a cross which Stephenson rocketed home for his sixth goal in six games.
The end to end action continued. With a little over ten minutes to the break a Chorley move which saw the ball passed across and along the full length of the pitched with at least half the team involved ended with Stephenson turning a Adam Mather cross millimetres over the bar.
Ashton pulled off a fine double save, but his efforts were rendered worthless as the linesman’s flag was raised for an offside then Dale Whitham flicked a Paul Jarvis cross over the bar.
With the half coming to a close Chorley bagged a crucial second goal at a killer time. Tom Baker, as ever pulling the strings in midfield, played a free-kick into the box. Captain Andy Teague nodded the ball on to Jarvis who passed to Stephenson who shot - his effort was blocked but Hine’s killer instinct ensured he was in the right place at the right time to slot home the rebound.
Deep into time added on, mainly for Read’s ponderous goal kicking, Jake Cottrell kept up the pressure with a shot from 20 yards with fizzed just over.
After the break Chorley took a firmer grip on the game, no doubt helped by the timing of the second goal.
Stephenson forced Read into a smart save with the visiting keeper tipping his effort onto the post just two minutes into the second half, then Read denied Ross when the fullback stormed forward and lashed a shot at goal.
On 56 minutes the third goal was bagged when Stephenson out jumped Read at the edge of his area, nodding over the keeper into an empty goal from another Baker free-kick.
On the hour mark Read was back to making saves, parrying a Hine blast behind for a corner after Cottrell played an inch perfect 40 yarder to the strikers feet. However the fourth goal arrived when Teague headed in a Baker corner, another assist for the midfield maestro.
Trafford to their credit continued to play good football whenever they had the ball and Cedric Krou curled an effort narrowly wide three minutes after Teagues goal.
The Magpies continued their version of total football, the flowing 4-3-3 formation allowing for a lot of movement. O’Brien, on a marauding run forward, passed to Cottrell, who curled a cross into Hine, but Read was again in the right place at the right time.
Midway through the half Ashton must have suffered from cold hands as his mishandled a cross, but was thankful for his defence clearing the danger from inside the 6-yard box.
Mather, clear down the left, crossed into the box but neither Stephenson nor Hine could get a touch onto a ball the was begging to be finished, the Hine snatched shot just the wrong side of the near post as Chorley continued to probe for a fifth.
Then the fifth arrived courtesy of an awful gaff from keeper Read. The Trafford stopper had been seemingly careful with his placing of the ball all evening, so much so that the three minutes stoppage time at the end of the first half was almost entirely down to him and he received a gentle talking to form the referee prior to the start of the second half, no doubt on this subject. However this time he completely miskicked the ball straight to Stephenson who brought the ball back toward goal before sliding the ball under Read to complete his hat-trick, Chorley’s first since Porya Ahmadi’s against Frickley Athletic last October.
The search for a sixth then began.
Whitham warmed the keeper palms then Stephenson flicked one just wide before Baker netted a deserved goal to add to his two assists, slotting home under Read after stealing the ball of the defence and advancing into the area.
And that wasn’t that as Trafford, still playing football, netted two minutes later. Ashton played a pass short to Teague. As the captain tried to clear the danger his tackle any other week might have resulted in a yellow or maybe even a red car depending on the official, but to Mr Denton’s credit he gave Trafford the advantage and Oakes took it to, hence the referee earning an assist!
Chorley XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Adam Mather, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Dale Whitham, Paul Jarvis, Tom Baker, Josh Hine, Darren Stephenson, Jake Cottrell
Subs: Paul O’Neill (O’Brien, 84), Jamie Vermiglio, Simon Wiles (Hine, 72), Alex Meaney (Jarvis, 80), Matt Jansen
Goals: Ally Brown (8), DARREN STEPHENSON (26), JOSH HINE (45), DARREN STEPHENSON (56), ANDY TEAGUE (61), DARREN STEPHENSON (71), TOM BAKER (88), Michael Oates (90)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Darren Stephenson, you can’t seriously expect me to give it to anyone else can you!