Josh saves Magpies’ skins

Josh O'Keefe netted twice
Josh O'Keefe netted twice

Brackley Town 2 Chorley 2

A stirring second-half fightback and two priceless goals by Josh O’Keefe saw league leaders Chorley preserve their unbeaten National League North record.

But the Magpies can thank their lucky stars that this game was not completely beyond them at half-time.

Brackley, showing all the quality which took them to the promotion play-off final last season and won them the FA Trophy, outplayed the visitors in a rampant first half.

They might easily have been four or five up at the break.

But a tactical change by manager Jamie Vermiglio breathed much-needed fire into his team who proceeded to play with greater composure and ultimately merited a share of the points.

Brackley took charge from the start and Lee Ndlovu missed an early chance from a close-range header.

Matt Urwin pulled off a tremendous save to turn over James Armson’s powerful header and then Matt Lowe rattled a post from distance –all this in the opening half-hour.

It was no more than Brackley deserved when on 34 minutes Connor Franklin headed them in front from a corner – the first goal conceded by the Magpies in open play this season in more than 11 hours’ football.

Seven minutes later Brackley’s lead was doubled, Ndlovu firing into the corner from five yards following trickery down the wing by Lowe.

Chorley were a different and more purposeful side after the interval and pulled a goal back in the 66th minute.

Matt Challoner worked the opening down the left flank and O’Keefe was on hand to convert the inviting centre.

Marcus Carver’s looping header just cleared the Brackley bar after another incisive build-up before O’Keefe grabbed the all-important equaliser with seven minutes to go.

Clever work and a superb cross by Elliot Newby set up the chance and O’Keefe stole in at the far post to plant a firm header past keeper Danny Lewis.

Brackley boss Kevin Wilkin said: “Without doubt we played the best half of football of our season so far and against the league leaders at that.

“To have scored only two goals today is disappointing.”

Chorley boss Vermiglio did not disagree.

“We can’t afford to start like we did today if we are to keep this superb run going,” he said.

“ Brackley are a really good side. We were lucky to go in at half-time only two down but the difference in the second half was incredible. We were outstanding.”

CHORLEY: Urwin, Challoner, Anson (Whitham 84), Teague, Leather, Short (Almond 46), Cottrell, O’Keefe, Carver, Wilson, E Newby. Subs (not used): A Newby), Jordan, Eccles.

Att. 530.