MATCH REPORT: Chorley 2 Lancaster City 2 (Chorley win 3-1 on pens)
Keeper Sam Ashton was the hero after Chorley won the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy for a record 17th time with a tense 3-1 penalty shoot-out win over Lancaster City.
Chorley made the worst possible start in their quest to retain the cup at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium as Lancaster took the lead in the second minute.
Ricky Mercer’s header from a Winder corner was saved by Sam Ashton but Zach Clark was on the goalline to put it in the net.
The Magpies fought back as Jake Cottrell blasted the ball home from just outside the box in the 37th minute but City were level within 90 seconds as Craig Carney volleyed the ball in.
City dominated and wasted a number of chances to put the tie out of sight and they were left to rue their missed opportunities as Chorley nabbed an equaliser.
Former City player Jordan Connerton’s scuffed shot appeared to hit Mercer’s arm and referee David McNamara pointed to the spot.
Super-sub Darren Stephenson missed the spot-kick but Lancaster keeper Mike Hale could only divert the ball back into the striker’s path and he blasted home the rebound.
It was not to be the last spot-kick of the night as National League North side Chorley and NPL First Division North outfit could not be separated after 90 minutes and the game went to penalties.
City’s Mercer stepped up to take the first spot-kick, beat Sam Ashton but the ball crashed into the left post.
Jack Lynch took Chorley’s first, sent Hale the wrong way and gave the Magpies the lead.
Chorley keeper Ashton got a hand to Winder’s penalty as he dived to his left but the spot-kick had too much power on it and flew into the back of the net.
At 1-1 Chorley’s Jack Dorney’s spot-kick was saved by Hale but Ashton was not to be outshone and the keeper saved City goalscorer Carney’s penalty seconds later.
After his earlier penalty was initially saved by Hale before he smashed home the rebound the pressure was on Darren Stephenson as he walked up to take Chorley’s third penalty.
But the striker was cool as a cucumber and made it 2-1 to put the ball back in Lancaster’s court.
Substitute Tom Kilifin was the man to take Lancaster’s fourth but his effort was saved and gave Chorley an opportunity to win the tie.
Paul Jarvis was the man to take the all important spot-kick and he effortlessly fired the ball in to give Chorley a 3-1 win and a historic cup victory.
But it was a heartbreaking end for Phil Brown’s men who were whiskers away from a giant killing.
Chorley boss Matt Jansen had to play Dale Whitham and Kieran Charnock out of position at right back and left back due to the ineligibility of full-backs Courtney Meppen-Walter and Keil O’Brien.
Jansen opted to put Stephenson on the bench due to a slight knock and handed James Dean a return to the starting XI as he made four changes to the side that beat Boston United 2-0 on Saturday.
Paul Jarvis also moved to the bench due to a slight strain as Jack Dorney and Adam Roscoe returned to the starting line-up.
City obviously made a perfect start and relied on the counter as Chorley dominated possession in the first half but failed to impress in the final third.
Connerton headed wide and Lynch tamely nodded wide as the Magpies failed to test City keeper Mike Hale.
City always looked a threat going forward as Billy Akrigg curled the ball wide of the right post.
Cottrell levelled in the 37th minute as Hale’s punch fell to Charnock on the left of the box and his shot rebounded perfectly into the path of the central midfielder who blasted the ball through a crowd of players into the net.
Less than 90 seconds later City were ahead again as they broke and sprinted at the Magpies make-shift defence.
Jacob Gregory whipped the ball into the path of Zach Clark and Carney was in pole position at the top of the box to volley the ball past a motionless Sam Ashton.
City continued to press as the half wore on as Gregory got to the byline and the better of Chorley captain Andy Teague but his cross was palmed away by Ashton with no City player at the back stick to mop up the rebound.
Chorley could have been level just minutes into the second half as Connerton’s inch-perfect pass allowed Dean to beat the offside trap and run one-on-one with Hale but the veteran striker fired straight at the City keeper.
Dean was withdrawn moments later as Stephenson entered the fray in the 53rd minute and he was straight into the action.
He leapt for a ball in the air and was clattered by City keeper Mike Hale who had run out of his box to try and stop the danger.
Stephenson was left sprawled in pain on the floor as referee David McNamara showed Hale a yellow card.
City were denied by the woodwork as Zach Clark outfoxed Chorley’s Mark Ross and Dorney to send Winder clear on goal, he beat Ashton but his strike clattered off the bar and fell to safety.
Marshall was booked for a foul on Lynch as he sprinted towards goal and Roscoe’s subsequent set-piece was tipped away from goal by the outstretched fingertips of diving keeper Hale as Chorley sensed a route back into the game.
Zach Clark tested Ashton once again as Lancaster kept breaking on the counter but failed to find that all important final pass with Chorley’s defence stranded.
Lancaster constantly terrified Chorley’s defence with their electric pace on the counter as Zach Clark’s header and Akrigg’s shot nearly put the game to bed.
But City paid for their missed chances as Chorley were awarded a controversial spot-kick moments after Akrigg’s effort was just diverted away by Ashton’s knee.
Connerton’s scuffed shot looped up into Mercer’s arm and referee McNamara pointed to the spot.
Stephenson stepped up to take the penalty and tamely fired the ball towards the right corner, Hale managed to get a hand to the ball but spilled it back into the path of the Chorley striker and he made no mistake to power in the rebound in the 73rd minute.
As time rolled on the game ticked on towards penalties and Jansen’s men showed nerves of steel to triumph in the shoot-out.
CHORLEY : Ashton, Whitham, Ross, Teague, Charnock (Jarvis, 61) Lynch, Roscoe, Cottrell, Dorney, Connerton, Dean (Stephenson, 53). Subs not used: Correira, Bailey, Darr.
Lancaster City: Hale, Henry (Davis, 90), Clark, Watson, Marshall, Mercer, Winder, Akrigg, Clark (Cummins, 85), Carney, Gregory (Kilifin, 81). Subs not used: Rodgerson, Carlton, Davis.