Chorley edged closer to the league championship with a three-one victory over already relegated Stocksbridge Park Steels while nearest rivals FC United slipped to a surprise home defeat at the hands of Buxton.
These results mean barring a massive turnaround in goal difference a minimum of six points from the final three games would be enough to secure the league title.
The Magpies started the game with intent and dominated the opening exchanges.
On ten minutes captain Andy Teague thought he’d netting the opener when he headed in from a Alex Nicholson free-kick only to be ruled off-side by the linesman, but the supporters only had to wait four minutes for a goal that counted, and what a goal it was.
Josh Hine, receiving the ball from a Jake Cottrell cross, lashed in a volley and from an acute angle 12 yards out he literally smashed ripped the net apart - kit-man Jono Gains being called into action to reattach the netting to the goalpost shortly after!
Two minutes later it was two-nil. Darren Stephenson, the recipient of an unlucky red card in mid-week, raced onto a through ball, beating two defenders in a race to the goal before slotting beyond Jack Ward in the visitors goal.
By now most supporters had heard the FC United had taken the lead against Buxton, only for the visitors to equalise on ten minutes.
The two goal advantage only lasted for three minutes as Jamie Smith took advantage of two poor attempts to clear the ball to reduce the arrears and increase tensions across Victory Park.
Darren Stephenson was in the thick of the action and was denied twice by Ward and was at the centre of a penalty appeal which came to nothing, but as the half drew on the fluidity of the game drained away and both sides settled for the two-one score line at the break.
After the interval Stephenson was dragged down on the edge of the box in what was blatantly the denial of the goal scoring opportunity; though the referee awarded a free-kick, the expected red card didn’t appear; in its place was a yellow!
James Dean was unlucky to miss queue his shot from a Stephenson cross, any other day Deano would have buried the chance.
Jake ‘Three-lungs’ Cottrell, who along with Paul Woolcott and Paul Jarvis were running the midfield, and had two pot shots from distance.
Twenty minutes from time, with news filtering through via social media that Buxton had taken the lead, Hine wrapped up the points netting his twenty-first goal of the season and the teams 100th league goal from close range after good play from Woolcott.
Next Saturday we travel to Whitby Town before entertaining Marine on Easter Monday in our final home game of the season.
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Alex Nicholson, Max Cartwright, Andy Teague (c), Keil O'Brien, Jake Cottrell, Josh Hine, Paul Jarvis, James Dean, Paul Woolcott, Darren Stephenson
Subs: Brandon Zibaka, Mark Ross (Nicholson, 60), Chris Almond (Stephenson, 73), Adam Roscoe, Nick Anderton (Cartwright, 49)
Goals: JOSH HINE (14), DARREN STEPHENSON (16), Jamie Smith (19), JOSH HINE (69)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Darren Stephenson, Stocksbridge just couldn’t handle him