When the DVD of ‘Chorley FC 2014-15’ comes out, fans won’t want to watch the games against Gloucester City again writes Josh Vosper.
The Tigers came away victorious on Saturday and in turn doing the ‘double’ over Flitcroft’s men. It was no more than the Magpies deserved after a poor performance at The Abbey Business Stadium, home of Cheltenham Town, who ground share with the Vanarama Conference North side.
The game started slowly as the pitch dictated the style of play for both teams. Chorley’s first meaningful chance was carved out on 9 minutes. Stand in skipper Dale Whitham launched a dangerous ball into the box, although Josh Hine couldn't get full contact as White in the Tigers’ goal gathered easily. Two minutes later and Whitham was in the centre of the action once again. After a good run into the box he was brought down by Billy Jones. Referee Tom Webb had no hesitation but to point to the spot. Top goal scorer of the season James Dean took the honours, who returned to action from a recent injury. The prolific striker smashed it emphatically past White to give Chorley the lead. Minutes later the Magpies could have doubled their advantage as Aaron Burns hit a fabulous shot but the keeper parried well. Although City were soon level and on 15 minutes bagged an equaliser. Nick Wright managed to make a surging run to the by-line, unchallenged by the Chorley defence and cross for Williams who saw his looping header come off the post and into the goal to the agony of Sam Ashton. This seemed to galvanise the Tigers and they had chances to take the lead. Most notably from striker Nick Wright, who saw his glancing header sail narrowly wide from a fantastic cross by Mike Green. Striker Harry Williams also had a good chance after dancing his way past Flynn, Doyle and Ross but Ashton dashed to collect the ball with ease. Although as half-time loomed both teams resorted to long balls as chances became few and far between.
In the second half Chorley struggled to get a footing and take control as City looked the much more dominant team. A low free-kick from Jones was pumped into the box and it looked as though the Magpies were in trouble, until Ashton dealt with the danger. Orenuga then burst away from the defence as he tried to take the ball round the Chorley shot stopper, who did superbly to get a foot to the ball and kick out of play. Flitcroft then made his first change of the game, as Burns came off for ex-Southport striker Chris Almond. Too many times the visitors played the ball in the air, although the substitution nearly worked on 60 minutes when Almond teed up James Dean who found himself in behind the defence, after an Ashton goal-kick, but hit his effort went sailing over the bar. Following a little pressure from the travelling Magpies, City were unlucky not to take the lead. James Bowen unleashed an unbelievable effort from 40 yards out that left Ashton back peddling as the shot cannoned off the crossbar as it seemed lady luck was on the Lancastrian side. Afterwards the ball was pumped by Ashton into the Gloucester goal yet again and it caught City on the back foot as Williams nearly netted an own goal. He sliced a clearance out of the box after being under pressure but luckily for him, White was on hand to gather.
As time was running out, the game started to resemble a tennis match as balls were flying from one half to another. It wasn't pretty and at times frustrating for the travelling faithful. The Tigers stood firm and in added time got their rewards for a battling performance. Captain Tom Webb managed to get hold of the ball and after a dashing run along the penalty box, he cut inside to fire a left footed shot into the bottom corner past the scrambling Ashton. Chorley looked star struck and worn out as they knew it was an effort that should have been dealt with, although you could see it was coming. Seconds after the re-start the referee blew for full-time to the delight of the home fans which near enough guarantees them safety from relegation. For the Magpies, it was a tough lesson and one they’ll have to learn from quickly if they want to cement a position in the play-offs come the end of the season.
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Adam Mather, Matt Flynn, Chris Doyle, Harry Winter, Josh Hine, Dale Whitham, James Dean, Aaron Burns, Jack Dorney
Subs: Jake Cottrell (Winter, 69), Chris Almond (Burns, 58), Adam Roscoe, Jack Lynch, Andy Teague
Goals: JAMES DEAN (11 Pen), Harry Williams (15), Tom Webb (90)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Sam Ashton - Made some crucial saves at crucial times, although couldn't do anything about City’s winner after some very poor defending.