Harrogate 2, Chorley 4

Matt Jansen and Andy Teague

Matt Jansen and Andy Teague

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Chorley won a rip-roaring festive tussle after a backs-to-the wall display of great tenacity to foil a boisterous Harrogate fightback which threatened to wipe out the Magpies 3-0 half time lead.

After two goals from Darren Stephenson and a header from Andy Teague had given the visitors a commanding interval lead, intense Harrogate pressure yielded two goals in three minutes early in the second half.

Chorley needed a slice of luck to calm things down and it came via an own goal by home skipper Danny Ellis to give the visitors a two goal cushion which proved enough for a precious victory.

Harrogate enjoyed plenty of the ball in the early stages but Chorley defended solidly and keeper Ashton had to make only two saves.

He raced out to narrow the angle when Jerry Yates went clear and held the shot and later fielded an awkwardly bouncing ball for sub James Cadman’s 20 yard snap-shot.

But it was Stephenson who stole the first half show.

On 27 minutes he collected a probing crossfield ball from Adam Roscoe, cut into the box and found the corner of the net with a well placed low shot.

Three minutes later, an Andy Bond free-kick was flicked on and Stephenson pounced again to whip a great shot just inside the near post.

A simple, unchallenged far post header by Teague from Bond’s well flighted corner, put Chorley three up on 42 minutes.

A Jerry Yates strike launched Harrogate’s revival on 55 minutes and when Dominic Knowles turned a low through ball past Sam Ashton it was very much game on.

But calamity struck the home side on 65 minutes when a long punt from Ashton was back-headed by Ellis beyond goalkeeper Peter Crook, who was well off his line and into an empty net. The shock goal shook Harrogate and though they pressed to the end, Chorley defended resolutely to see out an enthralling match.