Chorley and Darlington fought out an entertaining draw at The Chorley Group Victory Park Stadium, with both sides going on the attach at every opportunity in search for the elusive three points.
Right from the off there was no sign of either side looking to ‘park the bus’ as both teams went on the offensive as soon as they had possession.
Darlington lashed the first effort of the afternoon over the bar on 2 minutes, the 4 minutes later a Marcus Carver cross flew temptingly across the face of the goal but there were no Magpies on hand to convert the chance.
A Darlington free-kick was side footed over; Ritchie Branagan save low to block a close-range effort and at the other end And Teague shinned a shot tamely at the keeper and all this before the clock reach 3.10pm!
Just after the quarter hour the visitors broke the deadlock when Kevin Burgess swept a loose ball home from close range after a drilled corner rebounded off one of his own teammates.
Chorley were slow to get going after the restart and Stephen Jordan picked up a caution for a foul on the halfway line as Darlington looked to capitalise on their advantage.
Will Beesley was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line from David Syers to keep the deficit to a single goal.
Eventually the Magpies upped a gear. Adam Blakeman drilled wide from 20 yards; Beesley’s pin-point delivery was perfect for Jack Sampson, but the on-loan striker could only direct his header straight at Ed Wilczynski in the visitors goal, then following a whipped in corner a Darlington defender header clear from under his bar.
Eventually the pressure told and on 34 minutes Carver netted his seventh goal of the season. Teague brought the ball out of defence before passing to Dale Whitham whose centre was chested down by Sampson perfectly for Carver to drill home from outside the box, giving Wilczynski no chance.
With the score-line level and just ten minutes to the break you could forgive either or both sides for looking to be more solid at the back and not give anything away, but not today as the action continued.
Branagan spread himself superbly to deny a one-on-one opportunity on 36 minutes then Sampson headed over from a wide position 3 yards out, a difficult chance with the ball dropped out of the sun.
Gary Brown, the big number six at the back for Darlo, timed a tackle to perfection to deny Sampson inside the box then at the other end Scott Leather cleared off the line to keep the team level at the break.
After the break the attaching continued with a Whitham header being saved by Wilczynski.
Branagan scooped a low shot to safety the saved will from a free-kick soon after.
Leather headed side from a Whitham flick-on and Carver curled an effort wide from the corner of the 18-yard-box.
Whitham was withdrawn on 69 minutes after taking a heavy knock to the shin, ending early what was an excellent afternoon for the Magpies midfielder.
Branagan, again, kept out the visitors with another one-on-one save, this time denying Nathan Cartman with a Schmeichel-esk star-jump block.
After excellent play from Matt Challoner, Teague wriggled through the Darlington area but had not time or space to find a pass or shot, then minutes later the Magpies captain was in a similar position but this time crossed but neither Josh O’Keefe nor Carver could get on the end of it.
Carver drove wide, Branagan, again, saved well, Challoner crossed to an empty six-yard box and Chorley had claims for a penalty turned down… it might have only been a draw but it was an excellent game, well played both team!
Starting XI: Ritchie Branagan, Matt Challoner, Will Beesley, Andy Teague, Scott Leather, Stephen Jordan, Adam Blakeman, Dale Whitham, Marcus Carver, Jack Sampson, Jake Cottrell.
Subs: Kieran Charnock, Wazam Azam, Robbie McDaid (Carver, 82), Josh O'Keefe (Whitham, 69), Roscoe.
Goals: Kevin Burgess (16), MARCUS CARVER (34)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Ritchie Branagan; excellent between the sticks with some key saves at crucial times