Words: Liam Kealey; Pictures: Josh Vosper
A last-gasp equaliser meant Chorley won a hard-earned point away to Darlington.
The home side made five changes including a debut for Bolton loanee ‘keeper Jake Turner. Chorley were unchanged from their Tuesday fixture against Nuneaton.
Darlington: Turner, Trotman, Galbraith, Wheatley, Ainge, Smith, Elliott, Palmer (Henshall, 84’), Saunders, Kneeshaw (Kokolo, 74’), Thompson (Nicholson, 74’). Subs not used: Maddison, Hughes.
Chorley: Urwin; Challoner, Blakeman, Teague (c), Jordan (Hooper, 83’), Meppen-Walter, A.Newby, O’Keefe (Wilson, 68’), Carver, Almond (McGurk, 68’), E.Newby. Subs not used: Cottrell, Anson.
Darlington started well and constantly looked to take advantage of the wind and The Magpies on the counter-attack, using the pace of Kneeshaw and Saunders.
Chorley did look a threat from set pieces. The aerial presence of both Andy Teague and Courtney Meppen-Walter caused Darlington’s defenders some issues but unfortunately, the away side couldn’t convert from any of their dead ball situations.
It was instead Darlington who gained the first real opportunity from a set-piece. A free-kick from almost 30 yards out was delivered well and surprisingly met by the smallest player on the pitch. Steve Thompson’s header almost looped over into the opposite side of the goal but landed just wide.
It took 43 minutes before the deadlock was broken. Chorley looked comfortable in possession in the opposition’s half, but Elliott Newby was caught on the ball by Kneeshaw who accelerated into Chorley’s half making it three on three. After a lovely one-two by the Darlington strikers, Kneeshaw was able to place the ball in the bottom corner giving Matt Urwin no chance.
The second half saw a different Chorley, with plenty of fight and determination to get back in the game. However, they did not stop Darlington for the whole half. Ten minutes in, Thompson held off and beat three Chorley defenders before pulling it back for Harvey Saunders who forced a quality save out of Urwin.
On the 70th minute mark, Josh O’Keefe and Louis Almond were replaced by Josh Wilson and Adam McGurk which proved vital substitutions. With Wilson in midfield, Chorley looked more confident when moving the ball.
Although Chorley were creating more chances, Darlington still found a way through their defence. Saunders turned on the gas to escape Meppen-Walter and cut back inside the box, drifting past the back four until his effort was prevented by another Urwin save.
Then, with time expiring, the visitors finally got on terms. Matt Challoner whipped a very inviting cross into the box for sub Wilson to hammer home with his head.
However, Chorley were not finished. As a last-ditch attempt, Urwin pumped the ball in the box onto the head of Meppen-Walter who unselfishly laid it off for Hooper, but his strike was fired over the bar and Chorley had to settle for a point.
HT 1-0 / FT 1-1
Goals: Kneeshaw (43’); Wilson (90’+3)
Cautions: Palmer, Elliott; O’Keefe
Referee: John Matthews
Weather: Overcast and windy