Saturday August 17th, 3pm
The Leicestershire side, transferred from the Southern League during the summer, were just a point away from making the play-offs last season and have been tipped by most bookies to be there or there about at the end of the season, but a brace from Darren Stephenson and one from Dale Whitham ensured the Magpies headed back up the heavily congested M6 with all three points in the bag.
The home side won the toss and opted to play up hill and against the wind in the first half; hoping to be in a position in the second period were the slope and blustery conditions would be a real advantage.
After just three minutes Captain Andy Teague was elbowed in the face while challenging for an aerial ball, but with the match officials missing the incident the home side got missed out on an early yellow card!
Whitham thought he’d put the Magpies in front on ten minutes, heading in a Tom Baker free-kick, but the goal was chalked off for offside, the minutes later new signing Josh Hine saw home keeper Liam Castle block his shot.
Mark Ross, in at right back for the injured Keiran Walmsley, slung one of his long throw specials into the box and as the ball dropped a home defender appeared to handle it, but the officials again were not on the Magpies side for another decision.
Ross then saw Castle save a snap shot, denying him a goal on his 100th Chorley appearance.
With ten minutes to the break Barwell had their first spell of pressure. First of all a free-kick into the box resulted in a shot across the face of goal and then Sam Ashton did well to get down to his right to block a second attempt.
Two minutes from the break Stephenson forced an acrobatic save out of Castle, but wasn’t to be denied a minute later when he latched onto a Hine through ball and slotted home from ten yards.
After the interval Ashton made a smart save to deny substitute Danny Gaunt, whose swinging free-kick curled around the wall and was headed to the bottom corner.
Roca tried a spectacular 40 yard volley following a corner but his effort was blocked, then a Whitham with a shot-come-cross and Stephenson effort were both well saved by Castle.
Barwell’s Danny Spencer was awarded the first yellow card of the day after hacking down Whitham just outside the box, but the resulting free-kick from Tom Baker was charged down by the wall. Then at the other end Baker gave away a free-kick and Barwell capitalised with Mark Albrighton touching home Connor Gudger’s dead ball to level the score.
Shortly after the goal Paul Jarvis was introduced with Roca making way, and Jarvo’s energy and guile were crucial as Chorley continued to dominate the midfield despite the strengthening wind.
Scott Lower was booked for pulling back Adam Mather and Luke Barlone had his name added to the referee’s book for persistent fouling a minute later.
Javis jinked down the right flank and crossed to Whitham, but the midfielder couldn’t finish.
Josh Hine became the sole Chorley player to receive a yellow card for daring to challenge Castle on the edge of his box, with Castle receiving treatment for injuries sustained while writhing in agony rather than during the faintest of contact between himself and the Chorley striker!
Tom Ince replaced Hine with a little over ten minutes to play, adding natural width to the left flank.
Barwell goal scorer Albrighton received the final card of the game for tripping Baker, who then picked himself up and curled the free-kick just over the bar.
With time running out and a disappointing draw looking likely Stephenson struck. Receiving the ball from Jarvis and with his back to goal and being closely marked, the former Bradford City striker turned superbly and passed the ball into the bottom corner with Castle wrong footed.
Ince volleyed over a Jarvis cross as Chorley looked to add a third, which happened when Whitham slammed home from 18-yards from a Stephenson square ball.
So three points on the road in the opening game of the season, you can’t start a season much better than that - sorry for spoiling Barwell's carnival day!!!
Next up for the Magpies are Ashton United at Victory Park on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm. The Robin's defeated Grantham Town two-one today with Gary Gee and Joe O'Neill netting.
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Adam Mather, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Jake Cottrell, Carlos Roca, Tom Baker, Dale Whitham, Josh Hine, Darren Stephenson
Subs: Paul O’Neil, Tom Ince (Hine, 79), Paul Jarvis (Roca, 70), Adam Roscoe (Whitham, 90), Jamie Vermiglio
Goals: DARREN STEPHENSON (44), Mark Albrighton (64), DARREN STEPHENSON (87), DALE WHITHAM (89)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Darren Stephenson, carried his pre-season form into the competitive action with two well taken goals