After a twenty-four year absence, Chorley Football Club are BACK in the Football Conference after lifting the Evo-Stik League Premier Division title this afternoon on a memorable day in Buxton.
Be they on train, coach or in car; they came. An estimated 1,200 people of all ages travelled to Derbyshire to cheer on the Magpies toward their first league title since 1988.
Unlike last weekend, twitter was virtually ignored from 3.30pm onward with news that FC United were comfortably winning at Barwell; so it was down to the boys in Black & White to win just one more match to seal promotion and lift the title.
The first half was a tight affair with the first chance, a Buxton header which was directed wide from a corner, coming on ten minutes.
Chorley struggled to control the game, playing more the occasion than the opposition. The hosts meanwhile were free of any pressure and look to cause an upset.
The Magpies best chance of the opening half hour half saw James Dean unbelievably head well wide from a superb Paul Jarvis cross, they type of chance the ex-Fylde striker usually thrives on.
News had already filtered through shortly Tom Davies had opened the scoring for FC United at Barwell, and at almost the same time as Dean’s miss Mike Norton netted a second. With the Rebels in full control it was now down to the Magpies to step up and prove their Championship credentials.
In 45 league games so far this season Chorley had conceded just 39 goals, the best record in the division, so conceding was never really going to be a concern today, and with 105 goals in the onion bag already surely it was only a matter of time before the net would be budging.
Captain marvel Andy Teague went close with a header from a corner, but agonisingly had to watch as Buxton’s Neil Stevens nodded clear off the line.
Buxton broke and had a rare site of goal, but the Bucks captain Lee Morris miscued his shot and missed by a mile.
With the interval approaching Josh Hine fed off a Dean lay-off and the ex-Skelmersdale striker side footed beyond the vastly experience Andy Warrington to send 80% of the Silverlands crowd ecstatic.
At the break with our noses back in front, it was still Chorley’s title to win and lose; no matter what FC United did if the Magpies did their job the title was coming back to Lancashire.
The second 45 minutes saw a more controlled performance by Chorley, limiting Buxton’s chances to tame pot shots from distance but failing to stretch Warrington and his defence; the tension was ever present – do we hold what we’ve got or go for a second and risk being hit on the break – and edginess was there for all to see.
Chorley had shouts for a penalty turned down, Hine saw a header loop over the bar and Teague forced a save from Warrington as the Magpies looked to secure the title, meanwhile at the other end every Buxton attack had the Magpie in the stadium biting their nails – the nervousness was almost unbearable.
Paul Woolcott replaced the excellent Jamie Vermiglio and Jack Dorney came on for Jarvis as Garry Flitcroft utilised his squad.
Dean hooked a Jake Cottrell cross wide then flicked a header in a similar direction – a second goal that would settle everyone just couldn’t be found, then as the game entered the final ten minutes Buxton started to press as the Magpies started to feel the pressure, but despite their best efforts Sam Ashton’s goal was never threatened as the defence did what they did all season – defended like champions!
Every player gave his all for the title and deserved the medals collected at the end, medals that were sealed a minute from time when Hine bagged his second tapping in from close range.
United bagged a third, but it might as well have been a thirty-third for all that it mattered, at the final whistle Chorley were crowned Champions of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division – what a way to complete our 130th year celebrations!
The planning starts now for the assault on the Conference North.
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Max Cartwright, Andy Teague, Keil O'Brien, Jake Cottrell, Josh Hine, Jamie Vermiglio, James Dean, Dale Whitham, Paul Jarvis
Subs: Adam Roscoe, Paul Woolcott (Vermiglio, 64), Chris Almond, Jack Dorney (Jarvis, 78), Alex Nicholson
Goals: JOSH HINE (42, 89)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the
Match 'Season': Garry Flitcroft; two promotions, one title and one cup in just four seasons – legend!