Chorley banking on big-game temperament to secure win over York City in play-offs

Jamie Vermiglio believes the big-match mentality of his Chorley players will come to the fore this evening when they face York City.

By Craig Salmon
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 12:37 pm

The Magpies head to the York Community Stadium Leisure Complex in the National League North play-offs eliminator.

The tie sees the fifth-placed Minstermen host the team who finished one point and place below them in the table.

Whoever wins the one-off encounter will earn the right to face Brackley Town – who finished second in the table – at St James Park in the semi-finals on Saturday.

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Chorley have the experience for the big occasion (photo:Stefan Willoughby)

After a great first-half of the campaign which saw them in contention for the title at one point, Chorley have somewhat limped over the line in terms of securing a play-off spot.

Injuries to key individuals at certain times have hindered Chorley in recent months but over the past 19 games they have only picked up five wins.

That’s a significant contrast to the previous 23 games which saw them earn 12 victories and lose only three times.

Vermiglio admits he would have liked to have seen his men hit better form over the final few weeks of the season, but he is of the firm belief that his men fully deserve their crack at promotion.

Having witnessed his players beat teams such as Wigan Athletic and Peterborough United away in the FA Cup last season as well as securing wins over teams such as champions Gateshead and third-placed AFC Fylde in their own back yard this year, he is convinced they will be able to rise to the occasion for a one-off encounter this evening.

And in terms of this division, occasions do not get much better than facing York at their new stadium in front of an expected 8,500-capacity attendance.

Vermiglio said: "The lads are excited – it’s been a tough season, but they are where they deserve to be because they have been excellent again, coming up against some top sides weekly.

"It’s probably been the toughest season we have had since we have been in the National League North.

“We have been up against full-time teams and it's always a challenge for a club like ours.

"We have managed to get into the top seven and there’s a lot of clubs throughout the division who would have thought at the start of the season that they would have been there.

"So for us to get in the play-off positions – we are made up.

"But now we have got three games to win promotion starting with York tonight.

"They are expected to win, they are the favourites especially being at home.

"But the lads are ready. We have sort of limped into the play-offs a little bit.

"It’s not been easy the last few months, but I think it shows the character of the lads that they’ve managed to bounce back after some poor performances.

"When you’re in good form and you’re winning, the confidence is always there – everything sort of goes hand in hand, but when you’ve got a good team who are losing games and are not in the best of form, I think it’s been a real test of character to be able to come back in the next game.

"We have just done enough to get in the play-offs, but a lot of that is down to how well we did in the first half of the season.

"It would have been good to establish some form leading into the play-offs and certainly York are the form team.

"But we know with our history in the play-offs and some of the games we have won in recent times that we can win tonight.

"It’s a one-off game and I know my team is full of big-match players.”

York spent the majority of the campaign below Chorley in the table, but a run of three wins and two draws from their final five fixtures saw them leapfrog above their opponents tonight on the final day of the normal season.

The two games between them ended all-square. The Magpies earned a point away from home in 1-1 draw before an entertaining 2-2 draw at Victory park last month.

"York have got some big-name players. A lot of them have certainly played in the National League and some in the Football League,” Vermiglio said.

"So they have got that experience, that know-how.

"They have got a lot of pace in their side and they defend quite well but they have struggled over the course of a season to score enough goals to put games out of sight.

"We are going to be in a game where we might score first, they might score first, it might be 0-0 but the plan for us right up until the last minute is to be in the game.”

The Magpies are not at full strength with key figures Adam Blakeman (ankle) and Will Tomlinson (back) likely to be missing as is Harvey Smith, whose injury has been a little more long term.

"We know we are going into it a little bit depleted,” he said. “Both Adam and Will have been instrumental for us in recent times.

“The number of assists they have both got has been superb and they have also scored goals as well.

"They have been brilliant all season.

"The injuries we have had have probably caused our stutter over past few weeks.

"It is what it is though. York will have had their own problems in the run-in and going into the play-offs, it’s not just us.”