Many billed this game as the title decided but after 90 minutes of all out action the name to be engraved on the trophy will have to wait a little longer.
The game had everything; goals, red cards, controversy, superb action and a massive crowd – both sets of supporters were treated to a football spectacular.
The game was end to end right from the opening. FC United struck the post after just two minutes; Josh Hine forced a save from Rebels keeper David Carnell then it was Sam Ashton’s turn, up against his old employers, to deny the hosts.
On twelve minutes Chorley took the lead through a James Dean spot kick after a foul on Darren Stephenson as he darted across the box.
Jamie Vermiglio was outstanding throughout and put his head where many daren’t put their feet to clear the Chorley lines time and again.
Andy Teague headed wide from a Mark Ross delivery then Hine forced Carnell into action again, the home keeper taking a blow to the head as he save at the strikers feet.
Chorley had a free-kick just outside the box for hand ball, but wasted the opportunity the Ashton palmed a shot wide for a corner which Vermiglio nodded clear.
With the break approaching FC United had a spell of pressure, but Ashton’s goal was rarely threatened, then with the whistle just second away the controversy struck. Darren Stephenson was being held back as he tried to face toward goal and tried to break free from the arm-lock. The referee blow, awarding the home side the free-kick, then after conversing with his linesman showed Stephenson a straight red! At best it was six-of-one-and-half-a-dozen-of-the-other, and to rub salt in the wound Matt Jansen was also sent to the stand.
After the interval and attacking the goal with their vociferous supporter behind the goal FC threw everything at the Magpies in search of goals and three vital points but to a man the Magpies stood tall and to and defended like their lives depended on it; crosses were cleared and shots charged down time and time again.
But on the hour mark the continued pressure at one end resulted in a loss of concentration at the other let Hine in and against the run of play he doubled the Magpies lead.
From here on it was all FC United, with the Magpies backline dropping deeper and deeper. Both sides made changes for different reasons; chasing goals and defending their lead, but the pattern of play remained the same with Teague and Keil O’Brien outstanding once again in the centre of defence justifying their selection in the league’s team of the season as selected by divisions managers.
With just seven minutes of time remaining the host finally found a way through with Charlie Raglin smashing a volley through a crowd of people into the back of the net, then three minutes later it was all square as Tom Greaves bagged the equaliser, curling beyond Ashton.
So four minutes plus injury time to hang on, and the Magpies did it. Deep into time added on Greg Daniels was shown a second yellow followed by a red for diving, and with that the game ended with both sets of supporters raising to their feet in appreciation of what was a proper football ding-dong!
What a game!
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Max Cartwright, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Jack Cottrell, Josh Hine, Jamie Vermiglio, James Dean, Dale Whitham, Darren Stephenson
Subs: Jack Dorney (Hine, 72), Paul Woolcott (Vermiglio, 70), Alex Nicholson, Paul Jarvis, Adam Roscoe (Dean, 87)
Goals: JAMES DEAN (12 Pen), JOSH HINE (59), Charlie Raglen (83), Tom Greaves (86)
Red Cards: DARREN STEPHENSON (45), Greg Daniels (90)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: The Team, Dominated with eleven then defended like Trojans with ten.