Chorley rewrote history with a landmark TENTH consecutive victory, passing the previous record set in the ‘Peter Watson’ era of the early 1960’s with a victory over North West Counties side Atherton Collieries in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy.
Despite the closeness of the score, Chorley had the majority of the play and should have been clear. But the much changed side, with Matt Jansen playing at left-back, took time to gel and as a result the passing wasn’t as crisp and accurate as it could have been.
Atherton Collieries, visiting Victory Park for the first time on 29 years and despite being 68 places below the Magpies in the non-league pyramid, to their credit put in more effort throughout and in the final minutes when chasing an unlikely equaliser went forward with more purpose than some sides in our own league have done against us this season.
In fact it was Atherton who struck first when the aptly names Paul Atherton stuck on 13 minutes, completing a end to end move by slotting beyond Aaron Grundy’s reach.
In the remainder of the half there was plenty of huff and puff, but little finesse.
Before the goal Darren Stephenson mistimed a shot and saw if effort canon a defenders ankle straight to the keeper, then after the opener a Jansen ball was nearly turned in for an own goal from 12 yards, but the ball sailed narrowly wide of the woodwork.
After the break things picked up and Chorley were in front before the hour mark.
First, Stephenson got the final touch on the ball following an Alex Meaney free-kick after a foul on Simon Wiles, then Wiles added the second from close range from a nod-on by Adam Roscoe who took a blow to the head for his efforts.
Despite the many changes the class of Chorley was evident, but it was equally obvious that the visitors were upping their game in what will probably be classed as their ‘cup final’.
The Colliers came close when a free-kick following a Paul Woolcott foul was headed inches wide of the post then the cross bar was wobbled but had it gone in the offside flag would have saved the blushed.
With time closing in Kieran Halliwell netted the decisive goal, putting just enough curl on the ball to swing it away from the keeper but to then turn just inside the post; the only problem was he was cutting out a daisy-cutter cross and netted a OG!
Three-one, job done, not quite! Gareth Peat added a second for Atherton with a minute to go as the visitors capped a spell of pressure with a goal from the edge of the area.
Deep into injury time the visitors tried to take the game to a penalty shootout, but Chorley stood firm for a tenth win in ten games and history was rewritten.
Chorley XI: Aaron Grundy, Liam Davies, Matt Jansen, Mark Ross, Keil O’Brien, Alex Meaney, Adam Roscoe, Paul Woolcott, Simon Wiles, Darren Stephenson, Paul Jarvis
Subs: Andre Teague (O’Brien, 45), Adam Mather (Jansen, 73), Jake Cottrell, Dale WHitham (Woolcott, 84), Luke McKenna
Goals: Paul Atherton (13), DARREN STEPHENSON (52), SIMON WILES (57), KIERAN HALLIWELL (83 OG), Gareth Peat (89)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Alex Meaney, industrious throughout and put his name forward for a league start