Chorley maintained their incredible winning run with a hard fought but well deserved victory over Ilkeston in front of a season’s best Victory Park attendance of 1017.
Two first half goals set the win up with Darren Stephenson and James Dean performing a perfect double act, each scoring one and creating the other, while substitute Aaron Hooton’s 81st minute striker for the visitors kept the game interesting to the last.
Ilkeston started the game strongly and were on top for the opening 20 minutes or so, forcing a string of corners and peppering shots in the general direction of Sam Ashton’s goal without troubling the Chorley stopper.
Nine minutes into the game Chorley were forced into an early change with Paul Jarvis replacing Jake Cottrell who suffered a shoulder injury.
The tide started to turn on 18 minutes when Dale Whitham went close, hitting the post with a header from a James Dean cross. The rebound fell to Josh Hine whose shot was deflected for a corner. From Adam Mather’s deliver Andy Teague saw a diving header cleared off the line.
Just before the half hour mark Chorley took the lead. Dean, who was immense throughout, won an aerial battle and his flick on wouldn’t have been any more perfect for Stephenson, who took the ball in his stride and then lifted the ball over Lloyd Allinson in the visitor’s goal.
Despite gaining control of the game, chances were at a premium in a tight game until the 45th minutes when Stephenson put in a peach of a cross and Dean’s perfect header flew in at the near post to give Chorley a two goal cushion.
After the interval Ilkeston tried to find a way back into the game, but Chorley stood firm at the back and looked to add a third themselves.
On 48 minutes Hine saw an effort deflected wide for a corner, and then from another Mather delivery Teague headed narrowly over the bar.
Hine, whose pace and power was a threat all afternoon shot just wide of Allinson’s goal on 54 minutes
Following a Chorley free-kick on 64 minutes that Allinson gathered, the keeper punted the ball up field and Che Adams should have done better with his shot, but Ashton was happy to gather the squandered chance.
Two minutes later Whitham sent a speculative effort in from 25 yards but the ball sailed wide.
Ilkeston forced three corners in quick succession with twenty minutes to go; Keil O’Brien headed clear the first, Ashton tipping over the second then the third came to nothing.
With a little under then minutes remaining Ilkeston bagged an unlikely goal when Hooton picked up the ball 20 yards out and lashed the ball in when nothing looked on.
With only a goal between the sides, Ilkeston tried to force the pace but Chorley controlled the ball and Dean could have ended the contest on 85 minutes but he blazed it wide.
As in all games once injury time is entered there is always one more chance, but for a superb tackle by Teague, which he also managed to flick the ball off the defender to the arms of Ashton.
The winning streak is extended to eleven and next in line is Curzon Ashton in the FA Trophy next Saturday.
Chorley XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Adam Mather, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Dale Whitham, Josh Hine, Paul Woolcott, James Dean, Darren Stephenson, Jake Cottrell
Subs: Adam Roscoe (Hine, 86), Paul Jarvis (Cottrell, 9), Simon Wiles, Alex Meaney, Jamie Vermiglio
Goals: DARREN STEPHENSON (27), JAMES DEAN (45), Aaron Hooton (81)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Paul Woolcott, another impressive midfield display from the former Marine player