Chorley 1 Worksop 0
Title favourites Chorley strengthened their grip on the NPL Premier Division’s top spot after brushing aside their potentially most dangerous challengers with arguably their finest performance of the season.
The victory is of immense importance, stretching the Magpies’ lead over Worksop to eight points and that over second-placed Skelmersdale United – surprisingly beaten at home by Grantham – to four with a match in hand.
In truth, the winning margin here could have been four or five, so well did Chorley’s defence exert a stranglehold on the normally free-scoring Tigers’ attack.
And the success was due in no small measure to a masterly midfield display by the recalled Jamie Vermiglio.
“Jamie gives you experience and a cool head and he did a superb screening job for us today” said manager Garry Flitcroft.
Such was Chorley’s control that it was surprising that only Keil O’Brien’s 18th-minute goal separated the sides.
Dale Whitham’s free-kick was headed back across goal by Andy Teague and O’Brien forced the ball into the net at the second attempt.
Striker James Dean must have wondered how he failed to figure on the scoresheet after a series of frustrating near misses.
He headed against the bar from a Paul Jarvis corner and later saw another effort blocked by keeper Jonathan Stewart.
Then Dean fired a low drive just the wrong side of the post.
Worksop’s attack was so well shackled by the resolute home defence that keeper Sam Ashton did not have a serious save to make, with the visitors restricted to long-range shots, mainly woefully off target.
Chorley maintained their attacking momentum in the second half and, with time running out, substitute Darren Stephenson hit a fierce drive which cannoned off the crossbar.
It did not matter in the end as Chorley readily ran down the clock for a fully deserved victory, rapturously received by their fans in another terrific crowd of 1,151.
Elsewhere in the division, AFC Fylde were 2-1 winners at home to Rushall Olympic, Bradley Barnes (9) and Adam Sumner (76) on target for the Coasters. Karl Ashton (90) replied for the visitors.