Brackley 0, Chorley 1

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A classic defensive display brought Chorley three precious points against fellow National League North promotion-chasers Brackley.

Yet another clean-sheet ensured that a stunning strike by skipper Dale Whitham just before half-time was enough for victory.

The return from suspension of Stephen Jordan bolstered the Magpies’ defence and confidence was boosted by an impeccable display of goalkeeping from Ritchie Branagan, making his debut after signing from Macclesfield Town. In an even but relatively quiet first half, Chorley created a decent opening on 12 minutes but Marcus Carver, fired over the bar.

Branagan was in action at the other end, diving to make a good stop and then boldly punching clear from a Brackley free-kick.

A superb ball-in presented Whitham with a clear chance to put the Magpies ahead but his header sailed wide.He made amends, however, in some style two minutes before the interval, arrowing a glorious low drive beyond keeper LaurieWalker to send his side in at half-time in front.

Brackley unsurprisingly threw everything at their visitors on the restart but were thwarted repeatedly by a solid Chorley defensive screen.

A real chance to double the Magpies’ lead fell to Carver on 65 minutes following a spillage by Walker but the Chorley striker lifted his shot over the bar from just five yards.

After that it was essentially assured defending which saw Chorley through to the win.

Branagan hung onto several crosses and shots pumped into the goalmouth, notably denying Lee Ndlovu after he had skipped past three challenges.

But Chorley resisted defiantly to claim a notable victory which keeps them in third place, level on points with second-in-the-table Kidderminster.

“Sometimes you have to win ugly in these types of game,” commented Matt Jansen afterwards. “We worked tirelessly as usual and everyone put in a real shift. Ritchie was outstanding in goal on his debut.”

Brackley boss Kevin Wilkin also acknowledged the Magpies’ defensive strengths: “Chorley are a good side and well organised. They defended very well and made life difficult”’

CHORLEY: Branagan, Challoner, Blakeman, Leather, Charnock, Jordan, Roscoe, Whitham, Carver (Azam,86), O’Keefe (Cofie,75), Cottrell. Unused subs. Teague, Sheron, Beesley. Attendance : 525.