It was to be a National Non League Day to savour for the Magpie faithful making their third trip to the Midlands in a month, writes Paul Metcalfe.
This time, the hosts were in form Tamworth, who had scored five goals in both games over the Bank Holiday weekend. With that, and a new 3G pitch to contend with, the Chorley team potentially faced their stiffest test of the season so far.
But a strike by Jason Walker, netting his second goal in as many games, was to seal all three points for the visitors.
Matt Jansen made two changes to the starting line up which had beaten Stalybridge on Bank Holiday Monday. Matt Challoner began the game in place of Waqas Azam while Josh O’Keefe was promoted from the subs bench, with Dale Whitham making way. Whitham was rested for the game with a tight hamstring, having played with such intensity over the previous games. Stephen Jordan took the captain’s armband for this game.
The Lambs started the stronger and found the back of the net twice in the opening six minutes. However the referee chalked off both attempts having decided that both Daniel Newton and Connor Taylor had been too physical on their way to scoring.
At the Castle End of the stadium, Josh O’Keefe almost made it one nil, however the ball was deflected over James Belshaw’s top bar.
On 20 minutes, Stephen Tomassen toppled Walker on his route towards goal and the Chorley front man was awarded a free kick. Challoner’s shot was powered into the Tamworth wall, with the rebound picked up by Walker. His sublime shot sailed beyond Belshaw’s finger tips and found the top right hand corner of the net.
From then it was end to end action with attempts at both ends of the field. On 24 minutes Anthony Breslin had a lobbed shot comfortably by Sam Ashton, whilst two minutes later, Challoner had a great shot into the Tamworth area, but O’Keefe couldn’t connect and the ball was kicked away to safety.
On 32 minutes Connor Taylor made an attempt at goal but Ashton made an easy save whilst Sam comfortably gathered a futile attempt by Jed Davies from just inside the half way line.
Ten minutes later Jake Cottrell was sent tumbling, resulting in a free kick. The set piece connected with Marcus Carver’s head but the ball was saved easily by Belshaw who was making his 100th appearance for The Lambs.
In the final minute of three added at the end of the first half, Walker found himself in the referee’s book and was shown a yellow card for persistent fouling.
Andy Morrell made a double substitution at the start of the second half, with Greg Mills and Louis Briscoe coming on in place of Lee Smith and Connor Taylor. It was the introduction of Mills in particular, which presented a more attacking threat by the home side.
A free kick from Mills five minutes after the restart found the six yard box, but went wide of the far post. Another free kick two minutes later was deflected out for a corner.
Sam Ashton became the star of the game twenty minutes into the second half when he made a triple save to deny Briscoe, then Ross Dyer an equalising goal; punching, kicking and chesting the ball to safety.
A further chance for the home side came minutes later when Mills went for a shot on goal, but admirable defending by Will Beesley kicked the ball clear.
Two substitutions were made by Jansen after the seventieth minute to ensure that Chorley held onto their lead, as Adam Blakeman made way for Adam Roscoe, shortly followed by Sefton Gonzales replacing Walker.
Fifteen minutes from time, Carver was tripped in the box, but was yellow carded for simulated diving. The number nine was involved in the action just two minutes later as Gonzales’ header was flicked towards Carver, however the ball ran free of his feet.
On 80 minutes the home crowd shouted for a penalty as Daniel Newton appeared to have been pulled down in the box, however the referee allowed play to continue.
A final substitution for Chorley came five minutes from time when Waqas Azam came on for Marcus Carver.
Close to the final whistle, Cottrell had a superb opportunity to double Chorley’s advantage, however the ball fizzed just over Belshaw’s top post.
With no indication as to how many minutes were to be added on, Chorley fans, sensing victory started to sing Matty Jansen’s Black n White Army while the home fans nervously watched the clock ticking down.
As the referee blew the final whistle, Chorley recorded their sixth clean sheet out of the first eight games, and leapfrogged Darlington into fifth spot in the league
Our next game is away to Altrincham this Tuesday evening, with a 7.45 kick off
Staring XI: Sam Ashton, Matt Challoner, Will Beesley, Kieron Charnock, Scott Leather, Stephen Jordan (capt), Adam Blakeman, Josh O’Keefe, Marcus Carver, Jason Walker, Jake Cottrell
Subs: Andy Teague, Adam Roscoe (Blakeman, 67), Sefton Gonzales (Walker, 76) Paul Jarvis, Waqas Azam (Carver, 75)
Goal: JASON WALKER (20)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Sam Ashton – the superb blocking of a fast triple salvo keeping our clean sheet record intac