Chorley’s Conference North play-off place remains on hold after a stoppage-time goal consigned them to defeat on a day when none of the top five managed a win.
Gloucester City secured their survival and became the only side to complete a league double over the Magpies with a 2-1 victory.
In truth, lacklustre Chorley could have no complaints about the result and only two outstanding saves by Sam Ashton prevented their fate in this game being sealed earlier in the second half.
The Magpies were rarely able to dominate a livelier City side whose attacking play often had the visitors’ defence at full stretch. The influence here of the rested Andy Teague and Adam Roscoe was much missed in a demanding contest.
A soft penalty for a by-line foul on Dale Whitham gave Chorley an 11th-minute tonic, the ever-reliable James Dean scoring emphatically from the spot. But the lead lasted only four minutes. After Chris Doyle had cleared from the jaws of goal with Ashton out of position, Gloucester levelled when Harry Williams’ looping header from a right-wing centre surprised Ashton and dropped into the net off bar and post.
In a Chorley reprisal, City keeper Paul White fisted clear a stinging drive from Aaron Burns but the home side continued to carry the greater threat and only a smart near-post save by Ashton nullified Williams’ penetrating run on goal.
Chorley improved territorially in the second half but created few shooting chances, Dean firing the best of them over the bar. Gloucester were always dangerous on the break and Ashton bravely closed down the tricky Femi Orenuga with a well-timed dash from goal. Then James Bowen rattled the Chorley bar with a dipping 20-yards’ volley.
Ashton pulled off a stunning point-blank save from a disbelieving Harry White to keep the Magpies on terms but was beaten in the second minute of added time when Tom Webb was given too much freedom to fashion himself the opening to tuck his shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Southport were beaten 2-0 by Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday in front of 8251 fans, the largest crowd they have played in front of since dropping into non-league.
The home side were ahead by the 11th minute when Tom Davies slipped in the area and Ellis Harrison nipped in to put the ball past Tony Thompson. Matty Taylor headed the second in from an Andy Moorhouse cross in the 50th minute.
Southport still need four points to be sure of safety with their next game at home on Tuesday night against Braintree Town.