The special magic of the FA Cup lit up this spellbinding fourth qualifying round tie which had Victory Park rocking as Chorley staged a stunning second-half comeback to deservedly dispatch Barrow.
The unquenchable fighting spirit and refusal to be beaten which has characterised the Magpies in their unbeaten start to the season saw them to sweet success against a Bluebirds side which crumpled all too quickly in the face of the home side’s mounting onslaught.
That Barrow went in at the break two goals up was a travesty reflected in a first-half corner-count of 7-0 to Chorley who had pressed repeatedly without reward, due in part to two fine saves by Andrew Firth in the visitors’ goal. The Cumbrians had snatched the lead in the 16th minute when clever play down the left unhinged the home defence, allowing ex-Magpies ace Luke Burgess a simple far-post finish to a low left-wing centre.
Chorley’s response was immediate and Marcus Carver, a constant threat all afternoon, teed up Alex Newby whose well-struck shot flew just past the far post. Firth then had to tip over a dangerous Adam Blakeman cross at the back post and soon afterwards left his line to fist clear the same player’s free-kick in a packed penalty area.
In a quick Barrow breakaway, Erico de Sousa skimmed the Chorley bar with a fierce angled drive but there was further danger at the other end as Firth tipped over a Carver strike from point-blank range.
But just when Barrow looked like hanging onto a one-goal lead at the interval, they were gifted a second. A dreadful mix-up between Andy Teague and Matt Urwin in dealing with a hopeful through-ball allowed Tyler Smith to tap into an empty net from short range.
The whole picture changed within a minute of the restart, Matt Challoner sending a low drive skimming into the corner of the net past a perhaps unsighted Firth. It was a game-changing moment. Courtney Meppen-Walter was unlucky to see a perfectly-executed chip from halfway sail just past the post with Firth way off his line.
Chorley were now building a real head of steam and two goals in three minutes midway through the half sealed Barrow’s fate. On 67 minutes, Louis Almond showed fine anticipation to intercept an under-powered headed back-pass and clip the ball past an exposed Firth to bring the Magpies level. And with home fans in a splendid crowd of 1,734 now in a ferment of excitement the irrepressible Carver put Chorley in front.
After bringing a very smart save out of Firth at his near post, Carver was sent clear again by a lovely through-ball from substitute Kieran Glynn and cutting in from the left beat Firth comprehensively with a cracking low cross-shot.
Barrow made little impression on a resolute home defence apart from a quickly-taken angled effort from Smith which Urwin confidently held at his near post and the final whistle heralded wild rejoicing among the ecstatic home fans.
Bluebirds’ manager Ian Evatt was seething with rage after the game.
"That performance was completely unacceptable," he said.
"I am embarrassed by the way we played in the second half and to lose a game like that is unforgivable. But fair play to Chorley; they are a hard-working and very hungry side and good luck to them."
Magpies’ boss Jamie Vermiglio commented: "It was a phenomenal achievement to win that game from where we were at half-time. We didn’t deserve to be two goals down but the players responded with a fantastic second-half display and I’m delighted for them to be in the first round proper once again."
CHORLEY : Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague, Leather, Meppen-Walter, A. Newby (Glynn,60), O’Keefe, Carver, Almond (Whitham,88), E.Newby. Unused subs. Cottrell, Anson, Jordan, Eccles.