Despite Chorley demolishing Marine the destination of the title will be decided on the final day of the season after rivals FC United came from two down to beat Ashton United with an injury time winner. The Magpies win means AFC Fylde and Worksop Town cannot now finish in top spot; so the top two will now face away trips next Saturday on “Judgement Day"!
Back to today. Old foes Marine arrived at the Chorley Group Victory Park Stadium knowing their fate remained in their hands, needed a point or seeing Frickley failing to win to ensure Premier Division survival while a win for Chorley and an FC United loss would see the Championship won at home.
Dale Whitham and Josh Hine combined to nearly give the Magpies the lead after just 19 seconds, but a slight deflection on Hines effort saw the ball go wide for a corner.
Chorley continued on the front foot probing at the Mariners defence, but it took a great last ditch blocking tackle from Keil O’Brien to deny Andy Fowler a goalscoring opportunity on twelve minutes.
Chorley took the lead on 17 minutes with James Dean netting his 25th goal of the season, capitalising on a fumble from keeper Callum Williams who couldn’t hold a Whitham freekick.
Chorley continued to press and it took just nine more minutes to find the second, Darren Stepheson netting his 19th of the campaign, slamming on from close range following a Dean cut back.
With the Magpies well on top and news filtering through via social media that FC United were two down, all looked good for the Magpies. However you can only influence your own games and Chorley did not let up against struggler Marine.
Stephenson force a save from Williams and Dean did the same only to see the flag also against him, what Marine had their chances with strong shouts for a penalty and a late effort from Will Jones blazing just over the angle of post and bar in the final seconds of the half.
After the interval the Magpies flew at the Mariners and extended there lead on 48 minutes when Dean headed in a Hine cross, effectively ended the contest at Victory Park. With this goal the atmosphere inside Victory Park changed, no longer were people just watching the game as hundreds of mobiles phones were constantly being checked for updates from Gigg Lane – as it stood the title was ours!
The players continued to do their job and saw out the game with substitute Chris Almond netting a cracking goal three minutes from time, rifling in from 25 yards. But by then the chances of the title being decided had all but been whipped away as the latest FC United comeback was well and truly on. Thanks to goals in the 62nd and 72nd minute the Rebels were now all square with Ashton, but almost as soon as the final whistle was blown for the final time in a league game at Victory Park this season news came through that a winner had been netted in injury time so we were back to where we were at 3pm.
Next up, Buxton!
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Alex Nicholson, Jake Cottrell, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Adam Roscoe, Josh Hine, Darren Stephenson, James Dean, Dale Whitham, Paul Jarvis
Subs: Mark Ross (Nicholson, 70), Chris Almond (Roscoe, 61), Nick Anderton, Brandon Zibaka (Dean, 90), Aaron Grundy
Goals: JAMES DEAN (17), DARREN STEPHENSON (26), JAMES DEAN (48), CHRIS ALMOND (87)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: James Dean, almost unplayable.