Legend has it that in the middle ages, a man in green stole from the rich to give to the poor in Nottingham. Tonight, in a game where the Magpies were about to take all three points, a man called Nottingham stole two of those points with just ten seconds of extra time left to play, writes Paul Metcalfe.
That was at the very end of a second half in which Chorley dominated much of the play after a Jack Sampson poacher of a goal seven minutes after the restart.
On World Down Syndrome day, both clubs got in the spirit of things, where numbers of the crowd wore odd socks in honour of the event. Thanks to special permission from Jako UK, the two sides also warmed up in pink Twincess tops to celebrate the charity with close connections with both clubs. The Twincess girls, Abigail and Isobel, along with big brother Finlay, were guests of honour, and led the teams out as mascots on the night.
Onto the game itself, and the first half was a tense and tight encounter, with both sides sizing each other up. Free kicks were given away by both squads and chances fell at both ends with neither able to capitalise.
Salford were the first to apply pressure as Brough played the ball into Branagan’s area, but there were no red shirts to capitalise. This was shortly followed by corner to the home side but the referee blew for a Chorley free kick.
In a counter attacking move in the eleventh minute, Chorley made the first of a number of moves down the right wing, with the resulting ball being latched onto by Walker, however his effort was sent over the bar.
In the twentieth minute, in almost a replica of the Salford corner, Blakeman swung the ball into the box, however this time the referee spotted an infringement which resulted in a Salford free kick.
Ex Fylde player Barnes released a ball down the right flank which was latched onto by Nottingham. The ball was sent into the box but nobody could get a shot in on goal.
Just after the half hour mark, big chances for both sides to find the opener. Green firstly sent deep ball in, but the linesman had already flagged for offside. Then Teague can count himself unlucky that he was found unmarked in the Salford box but managed to skim his shot over the bar.
With the referee signalling two minutes to be added on at the end of the first half, Salford seemed the more likely to go into the dressing room with the advantage. After Burton was brought down, Green stepped up to take the free kick, however the inswinging ball was cleared easily. In the dying second, Walker tried a counter attack but the flag had already gone up for offside.
Chorley came out for the second half with the bit between their teeth and soon started to frustrate their hosts. Just as before the break, Walker was caught by the offside trap preventing him from attempting at goal. Five minutes after the restart, Matt Jansen made the first change of the game, with Leather making way for Charnock.
Two minutes later, the away fans went into raptures in the when man of the moment, Jack Sampson netted for the seventh time in nine games after an uncharacteristic mistake by Lynch allowed a simple tap in from three yards out. Another chance came shortly after, with a free kick awarded after Walker was taken down, however Lynch made amends by collecting comfortably.
On the hour mark, the Salford bench made a double substitution, with Phenix and Green coming off and Allen and Hine on. The ex Chorley man made an early impact with one of his trademark long throw ins finding the box, with ex Salford shot stopper Branagan eventually taking care of the ball. Hine himself found the back of the net just five minutes after coming on, but the flag had already risen for offside.
Branagan was almost caught napping off the line when Hulme tapped the ball away from him and had a shot, but luckily the angle of his shot was wayward of the goal.
With Walker tiring after his first start since the Fylde game on Boxing Day, Carver came on with fresh legs and went into his trademark mode of terrorising opposition defences. Minutes after his entrance, he had a chance to double Chorley’s advantage, however his shot was scuffed wide.
We all know how dangerous Hine can be, and after a mazy run down the right, he launched the ball into the box, however neither Nottingham nor Priestley could capitalise.
With twenty minutes on the clock, Carver set off at pace once again, but was flagged offside just over the half way line.
The last Salford swap came on 73 minutes as Hulme made way for King. Cottrell so very nearly scored but his shot in was wide of the mark. With ten minutes left Carver unleashed himself down the left, however the ball went out for a corner, which Lynch gathered comfortably.
Salford began to turn the screw as the minutes ticked down; Jarvis made a clever clearance after half a chance of an equaliser. At the other end a clever flick on by Carver was defended well by Carver. With one minute of normal time remaining with Roscoe replacing Blakeman.
With four minutes of time added on. Houghton launched the ball, however this went flying over Branagan’s top bar.
Into the last minute of time added on, Lynch powered the ball upfield, only for Nottingham to latch onto it and let fly, leaving Branagan with no chance of stopping it going past him. After a second half in which Chorley largely dominated, it was the cruellest time to concede, however the squad can remain positive about taking four points off such strong play off contenders.
Team Branagan, Challoner, Jarvis, Teague, Leather, Jordan, Blakeman, Whitham, Walker, Sampson, Cottrell
Subs Charnock, Carver, Roscoe, Not Used O’Keefe, McDaid
CFC.com Men of the Match: The whole squad. Couldn’t pick one out – every man put an excellent shift in, which will be key in us maintaining our play off spot as we enter our last eight games of the season.