Chorley 0, Blyth Spartans 1: Magpies play-off hopes hit by defeat to Spartans

Chorley’s National League North play-offs hopes suffered a surprise setback in this shock defeat at the hands of relegation-battlers Blyth, writes Mike Nield.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 20th March 2022, 9:38 am

What should on paper have been a relatively straightforward assignment for the high-flying Magpies proved to be anything but, as the Spartans dug in, snatched an early second-half goal and proceeded to defend with assurance as Chorley strove in vain to rescue at least a point.

A lively surface and a stiff wind blowing straight down the pitch challenged both teams to produce any sustained composed football.

The goal-scoring opportunities in a tepid first half fell to Blyth in the early stages. Angelo Capello, eight yards out, missed an open goal from a low Dan Maguire centre and then Matt Urwin was forced into a smart near-post save from Rhys Evans’ tight-angled attempt.

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Millenic Alli on the ball against Blyth Spartans (Stefan Willoughby)

Neither keeper was subsequently tested before half-time and the Magpies left the field without having had a shot on target.

A piledriver from Billy Whitehouse, inches too high, at the start of the second half hinted at a Chorley takeover but it was Blyth who struck on 50 minutes.

The home defence got into a tangle in dealing with a through-ball and Rob Dale kept his composure to run on unchecked and slide the ball past Urwin.

Andy Halls got in a good header from a corner which Spartans’ stopper Alex Mitchell did well to hold overhead under pressure but Blyth, always quick to counter, were close to a second goal when Urwin had to dash from his line to whip the ball off the toes of the hard-working Maguire.

The Magpies did apply late pressure and won a series of corners without penetrating Spartans’ defensive screen, though with time running out substitute Brad Holmes brought a fine save out of Mitchell.

There was nearly a classic individual goal in added time for Blyth’s Corey McKeown but after a brilliant solo run he poked a tame finish the wrong side of the post.

It mattered little as the Blyth players were able to celebrate an overdue victory.

CHORLEY : Urwin, Halls, Leather, Baines, Shenton (Hall 67), Tomlinson, Calveley, Whitehouse (Blyth 85), Sampson, Alli, Ustabasi (Holmes76). Unused subs. Blakeman, Spencer-McDermott.

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