Chorley emphatically beat current league leaders Skelmersdale United four-one with goals from Paul Jarvis, James Dean, Jack Dorney and Josh Hine in front of the Evo-Stik Leagues biggest gate of the season, the fourth highest non-league crowd of the day, as 1968 supporters packed out the Chorley Group Victory Park Stadium.
In the week leading up to this game Skem manager Tommy Lawson had been vocal in the local press stating how Chorley’s tired legs after the Tamworth game would play into their hands; how wrong was he as the supposedly tired Magpies out played and outpaced the rested Skem for the majority of the game.
The opening 20 minutes belonged to the league leaders, but for all their football in the middle of the park their final balls into the box were often poor, with crosses often worrying the large number of visiting supporters more than the home defence.
They did find a way through three times. Twice Sam Ashton save well, the second one a stunning close range, goal line save to keep out a header from Adam Morning and the third and saw Neil Prince dink the ball over Ashton but it landed beyond the far post.
However if you don’t take your chances in football you are often punished and with Chorley’s first telling shot on goal it was one-nil.
The impressive Dorney was tripped as Chorley hit on the break, and from the direct free-kick on 26 minutes Jarvis drove the ball home, beating ex-Magpie stopper Zach Hibbert to his right, with a superbly executed free-kick.
Goals can change games and this one certainly did as the “tired” Magpies grew stronger and Skelmersdale began to wilt under the pressure.
Chorley had a penalty appeal turned down when Pete Wylie appeared to hand ball while under pressure from Darren Stephenson, but the referee awarded a goal-kick to the consternation of the home contingent.
Stephenson shot wide then Keil O’Brien headed just over as Chorley cranked up the pressure.
Stephenson then earned a free-kick on 39 minutes on the opposite wing to where the opening goal came from. Jarvis again stepped up to take it, this time swinging the ball in. O’Brien flicked it on and Dean was on hand to loop a header over Hibbert and just under the bar to double the lead.
With the break approaching Dorney struck. He received the ball from Stephenson then turned Tom Harwick before sliding the ball under keeper to make it three-nil on 44 minutes.
After the interval Chorley started the stonger, pushing the visitors back and Stephenson almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up but his effort was blocked.
Skem regained their composure and started to attacked, looked for a faint hope of getting back into the game.
Ashton pulled off a “camera” save to deny Prince, acrobatically diving to his left to palm the ball away then Hardwick, left unmarked at the back post, nodded in a Kenny Strickland free-kick to reduce the arrears in the 54th minute.
Skem continued to press after there restart and Morning should have done better than head well over from a good position.
Dorney, in for the rested Hine, volleyed one shot over then crossed for Dean, but a faint touch from Wylie denied the big striker.
Ex-Skem striker Hine replaced Stephenson then ex-Magpie Tom Ince was brought off the Skelmersdale bench and received a boisterous reception from the home supporters!
Ashton was in action twice in quick succession; the first was a routine save from Astbury, however for the second he received a yellow card after clashing with Morning outside his box. There were vociferous calls for a red card from the Skelmesdale bench, but with defenders back and Morning not heading straight at goal the referee call this one correctly.
With six minutes remaining the result was put beyond any doubt when Hine outpaced his former teammates and slotted the ball in from an acute angle.
This win means there is now just a single point between the two sides, Chorley’s four games in hand and better goal difference giving them a distinct advantage going into the final months of the season.
Next week Chorley travel to Blyth before returning to Victory Park on February 1st when Stamford come to town.
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Jake Cottrell, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Dale Whitham, Jack Dorney, Paul Woolcott, James Dean, Darren Stephenson, Paul Jarvis
Subs: Adam Roscoe (Dean, 86), Josh Hine (Stephenson, 71), Keiran Walmsley, Jamie Vermiglio (Whitham, 89), Aaron Grundy
Goals: PAUL JARVIS (26), JAMES DEAN (39), JACK DORNEY (44), Thomas Hardwick (54), JOSHUA HINE (84)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Jack Dorney; Jack is back with a bang