Chorley 1, Woking 1: Magpies hold leaders thanks to Chris Holroyd's goal
Chorley’s sixth draw of the season lifted them a place to 22nd in the National League table but cost Woking, league leaders at the kick-off, their hold on top spot, despite extending their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
It was a tense physical battle for the sun-drenched crowd of 1,336 but in truth a messy, stop-start afternoon’s football.
The goals came in a comparatively uninterrupted first half - the main delay arising from the need to bandage a Josh O’Keefe head wound - but after the break the interruptions came thick and fast and in the end there were 12 minutes of added time to be played.
The lengthiest hold-up followed a serious-looking injury to Woking’s influential Tyreke Johnson who after lengthy treatment on the field was cautiously stretchered off with a dislocated shoulder.
A damaged corner-flag almost at once threatened further delay and there was a late flashpoint when Woking centre-back Ben Gerring was shown a straight red card for grappling with Marcus Carver as he attempted a quick throw-in.
When actual football took centre-stage in the first half, Woking looked the classier act with neat approach play developed through midfield. But it was Chorley who went ahead on 8 minutes.
A probing diagonal forward ball from Jake Cottrell out on the touchline dropped beyond an isolated defender and fell kindly for Chris Holroyd who coolly took a touch before steering his shot beyond keeper Craig Ross for his sixth goal of the season.
It was a further example of the ex-Wrexham striker’s outstanding ability to finish.
The goal gave the Magpies a vital foothold in the game but the lead vanished quite unnecessarily on 22 minutes when indecision by skipper Andy Teague on the by-line allowed Kane Ferdinand to put in a cross which Dave Tarpey nodded past Billy Crellin from short range – from Chorley’s point of view a very soft goal.
Although the visitors continued to look the livelier going forward, neither keeper was seriously tested, though Alex Newby skimmed the Woking bar from a 25-yards’ free-kick.
There was little sign of a goal in the second half until a smart Magpies’ counter-attack released Newby who appeared to be pulled back as he raced into the box but he stayed on his feet only to see Ross race from goal to block his shot.
"It was a clear penalty," said Jamie Vermiglio afterwards.
"I am really frustrated. We were far from our best and way off the pace in the first half.
"But we showed more fire in the second half and had opportunities to win the game. The linesman has indicated the foul on Alex and the tug on his shirt has unbalanced him as he prepared to shoot. The referee chose to play advantage and it has cost us."
The Magpies continued to rack up the pressure late on and two crosses raked the goalmouth without anyone being on hand to capitalise, while in the last minute two Woking players were within inches of connecting with a wickedly in-swinging corner at the far post.
In the final analysis, the draw was a fair result from a game which neither side did quite enough to win.
CHORLEY : Crellin, Challoner, Baines. Teague, Leather (Blakeman,67), Meppen-Walters, A. Newby, O’Keefe (Dodds,83), Carver, Holroyd (E.Newby,84), Cottrell. Unused subs. Ross, Massanka.