Whitham strikes makes difference

Battle for the ball: John Cunliffe for Chorley against Blyth Spartans
Battle for the ball: John Cunliffe for Chorley against Blyth Spartans
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Chorley 1

Blyth Spartans 0

A fabulous 69th-minute strike by Dale Whitham, worthy of winning a better game than this otherwise forgettable contest, brought Chorley their first Saturday success in two-and-a half months and a second league double.

There was otherwise little to warm or excite a crowd of 608 on a freezing afternoon, the first half in particular a sterile affair of honest endeavour and spoiling-tactics which resulted in the ball being all too often out of play.

Young striker Curtis Haley, on loan from Blackburn Rovers, did have an early goal for the Magpies disallowed for offside.

And Blyth’s Neal Hooks raked the goalmouth with a fierce low cross which needed only a finishing touch – the only incidents of note in a dire first 45 minutes.

The action mercifully livened up after the interval and a hectic scramble in the Blyth goalmouth ended with keeper Conor Grant finally plunging into a ruck of players to smother the ball.

Then Andy Russell had a strong downward header cleared off the visitors’ line.

Blyth lacked nothing in spirit and remained a combative force but there was no end-product to promising raids which often foundered on the rocks of Chorley’s uncompromising centre-backs Keil O’Brien and Andy Teague.

Spartans’ substitute Shaun Vipond drove high and wide from a rare shooting chance following a half-clearance to the edge of the box.

The decisive goal followed a patiently-crafted raid down the Magpies’ left.

Roscoe headed square into the path of Whitham, who raced onto the ball and thundered a spectacular 25-yards’ drive into the 
net via the underside of the bar.

Shell-shocked Blyth’s best response was a stinging low drive from substitute Craig Hubbard, well held by keeper Jack Cudworth.

But it was Chorley who came closest to adding a second goal.

Grant pulled off a fine point-blank save from the hard-working Roscoe in the closing minutes and that was as close as it came.

In the end, Chorley’s second-half surge merited the victory...just.

CHORLEY : Cudworth, Ross, Russell, O’Brien, Teague, Whitham, Roscoe, Parillon, Haley (Breen, 85), Stephenson, Cunliffe (Vermiglio, 23). Unused subs. Ince, Flitcroft, Collinge.

Attendance : 608.