Played at Lancashire FA HQ, Leyland
Chorley cruised through to this year’s final of the Lancashire Challenge Trophy against an AFC Darwen side that were certainly no pushovers.
With five changes to the team that started Saturday’s league game Garry took the opportunity to give the fringe players a run out and had Jamie Vermiglio captaining the side from central defence.
As has been the case in almost every recent fixture, the game kicked off with a constant downpour driven by a strong wind which was behind Chorley for the first half, but it was Magpies keeper Aaron Grundy who was in action first saving from Turner in the third minute.
After the Chorley upped the gears and after a spell of sustained pressure Adam Roscoe opened the scoring in the tenth minute, converting from close range after a Chris Almond header off a Paul Jarvis corner was cleared off the line.
Chorley pinned the North West Counties side back, but no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t find a way through the Salmoners back line with Jarvis, Darren Stephenson, Almond, Vemiglio, Keiran Walmsley, Jake Cottrell and Mark Ross all going close before the break, while Darwen who played some neat football at times tried hit on the break.
After the interval Darwen, with the swirling wind now behind them, started strongly but failed to make the most of their chances, especially a free-kick following a foul by Vermiglio on the edge of the area.
As the half progressed Chorley got stronger. Stephenson should have had a free-kick awarded after being barged off the ball and Almond forced a save from Stefan Holden in the Darwen net.
Dale Whitham replaced Almond and Brandon Zibaka came on for Stephenson.
With just under twenty minutes remaining on the clock a peach of a ball from Cottrell released Simon Wiles, who advanced into the area before slotting the ball home with a smart finish.
Zibaka, who put in an impressive cameo appearance, went close with a header then setup Roscoe who narrowly missed before the number ten was withdrawn, James Dean joining the action for the final ten minutes.
Zibaka was a really livewire upfront and smart play from the former Preston player saw him break before squaring to Wiles, who in turn found Woolcott, but the midfielders shot was well saved.
Despite being two down, Darwen continued to play football and created a handful of opening, the closed being a header from six-yards deep into injury time that went narrowly over.
On tonight’s performance AFC Darwen certainly look a better side than their league position of 14th in the North West Counties second tier suggests; 81 places below us in the non-league pyramid! Their victories over Burscough and Kendal Town in the previous rounds were certainly no flukes and having only placed one league game since mid-December once they get games played they should start to climb up their league.
Now it’s onto the Reebok on Monday March 17th when we will face the winners of next week’s semi-final between Bamber Bridge and AFC Fylde.
Starting XI: Aaron Grundy, Keiran Walmsley, Paul Jarvis, Mark Ross, Jamie Vermiglio, Jake Cottrell, Chris Almond, Paul Woolcott, Darren Stephenson, Adam Roscoe, Simon Wiles
Subs: Dale Whitham (Almond, 59), James Dean (Roscoe, 78), Luke McKenna, Brandon Zibaka (Stephenson, 69), Sam Ashton
Goals: ADAM ROSCOE (10), SIMON WILES (71)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Jake Cottrell, was the teams heartbeat.