Chorley’s indifferent start to the season continued with a single goal defeat at the hands of Harrogate Town.
The afternoon that started with an impeccably observed minutes silence for long standing supporter David Edwards who sadly died the previous weekend and also for those that lost their lives in the Shoreham air tragedy.
Once the action got underway neither side looked like taking control and it wasn’t until the 18th minute when an attempted scissor kick from Paul Clayton off a Joe Colbeck delivery when off target.
Chorley responded in kind, with Josh Hine heading over a Darren Stephenson centre, then Cecil Nyoni was the next to miss, his header going harmlessly over Ashton’s bar.
Keiren Charnock was unlucky not to get onto the end of an Andy Bond free kick, then Colbeck beat Paul Jarvis but his cross was easily cleared.
The game was obviously opening up, but both sides lacked a killer instinct in front of goal.
Knowles shot from the edge of the area but never threatened the goal then Bond got under the ball with an attempted volley which looped high over the bar.
With 38 minutes on the clock the deadlock was broken and it was the first shot on target in the game so far. A Harrogate cross into the box was headed down by Nyoni and on the half volley Clayton gave Ashton no chances.
Knowles should have added a second, but dallied on the ball to too long and eventually chipped the ball into Ashton’s hands.
After the break the lack of attacking quality on display from both sides, the goal apart, continued.
James Dean failed to make the most of possession in the area, losing the ball without getting a shot at goal.
A feature of the first half reappeared on the second with both sides guilty of a series of set-piece deliveries played straight to opposing players!
Just after the hour mark Hine shot over after a Whitham corner was headed back by Charnock then the save of the game (there weren’t many contenders) was Peter Crook in the visitors goal acrobatically hold a Chris Doyle headed from a Marcus Carver cross that seemed destined for the bottom corner.
Jarvis tried, without luck, a shot from fully 25 yards, but failed without luck then the biggest cheer of the day occurred when Knowles was finally yellow carded after a string of fouls.
Bond hit a free-kick wide then at the other end Clayton saw a shot deflected off Jarvis and go to a grateful Ashton.
Chorley were now throwing numbers forward with both Carver and Lewis Guy brought off the bench and with a little under ten minutes to go it liked like a penalty was going to be awarded when Charnock was felled in the area. However, despite what looked a straight forward decision, the referee ignored the claims waiving play of much to the surprise of the vast majority of those inside Victory Park.
Carver flicked a Whitham corner just wide with Chorley‘s final chance, but in time added on it took a superb 1-on-1 save by Ashton to deny Colbeck as Harrogate almost hit on the break.
One thing for sure on today’s performance is that Harrogate will perform much better in the league than last season. They now have what might be called a “professional edge” to their game. They have strong players who have ability but combined it with a way of playing you might expect to see from the blues of Stamford Bridge – they even parked two coaches (on Ashby Street).
Starting XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Paul Jarvis, Chris Doyle, Keiran Charnock, Jake Cottrell, Josh Hine, Dale Whitham, James Dean, Andy Bond, Darren Stephenson
Subs: Marcus Carver (Cottrell, 68), Lewis Guy (Dean, 80), Sam Sheridan, Andy Teague, Adam Dodd
Goal: Paul Clayton (38)
Chorleyfc.com Man of the Match: Chris Doyle