Words: Alex Birch; Pictures: Stefan Willoughby
Louis Almond blasted Chorley to a 15th home win of the National League North season as The Magpies closed out the regular season with a gutsy victory against Bradford (Park Avenue).
Chorley made three changes from Easter Monday with Adam Anson, Stephen Jordan & Louis Almond coming in for Matt Challoner, Andy Teague & Josh Wilson.
Chorley: Urwin; Anson, Blakeman, Jordan (c), Leather (O’Keefe, 60′), Meppen-Walter, A.Newby, Cottrell (Hooper, 79′), Carver (Tuton, 68′), Almond, E.Newby. Subs not used: Hanley, Eccles.
Bradford: Andrew; Ross, Lowe, Nowakowski (East, 72′), Killock (c), Havern, Spencer, Branson, Beesley, Johnson (Clee, 56′), Knight (Lewis-Potter, 90′). Subs not used: Crichlow-Noble, Hurst.
An even first half saw chances come and go for both sides before Avenue’s top scorer Jake Beesley converted a penalty following a mix-up at the back led to Matt Urwin upending Lewis Knight in the area. The ‘keeper was yellow carded ahead of picking the ball out of his net.
The response was swift from Chorley. After Alex Newby had tested Charlie Andrew with a free kick, Louis Almond out-muscled his marker from Marcus Carver’s knock-down before hammering the ball past the Hull City loanee via the crossbar.
Almond bagged his second nine minutes into the second half when a long ball was totally misjudged by Andrew, allowing Chorley’s number 10 to breeze past the ‘keeper and tap home. Less than a minute later it was Oli Johnson tapping home for Bradford to level matters.
The game looked as though it would finish as a draw, with Bradford particularly happy with this outcome. But with a minute remaining Almond wriggled free of his marker to fire in off the post to, completing his hat trick and giving Chorley 81 points on the season.
Sponsors man-of-the-match: Louis Almond
HT 1-1 / FT 3-2
Goals: Almond (44′, 54′, 89′); Beesley (pen, 35′), Johnson (55′)
Cautions: Jordan (66′); Branson (56′)
Referee: James Bell
Assistants: Paul Graham & Martin Parker
Weather: Overcast & breezy
Winning 50/50 ticket: A11832 (£200)
Next up: The National League North playoff semi-final at Victory Park (Sunday, May 5 @3pm) against either Altrincham or Blyth Spartans, who play their quarter-final on Wednesday evening.