Harrogate Town 4 Chorley 1
Chorley’s Conference North play-offs hopes suffered a setback against a Harrogate team which was a totally different proposition from the one beaten 4-0 at Victory Park in early October.
The Yorkshiremen underlined the merit of their victory at title-chasing AFC Fylde the previous Saturday by comfortably accounting for an off-colour Magpies’ side.
To go behind to an early penalty was challenging enough for Chorley but the decisive blow came with the dismissal of skipper Andy Teague on 18 minutes, quickly followed by Town’s second goal, which effectively settled the pattern of the match.
Josh Hine put the Magpies briefly back in the game early in the second half but within three minutes Town restored their two-goal cushion and a second strike from the spot ended the contest with 16 minutes still to play.
Ten-man Chorley’s marking was simply not tight enough and they always looked a side playing a man short against a very fluid home team.
After a bright Chorley start in which both Dale Whitham and Hine went close, a soft penalty award for an aerial challenge in the ninth minute allowed Andy Gascoigne to put Town ahead.
The home midfielder was stretchered from the field following a fully-committed tackle by Teague which triggered an angry reaction by Harrogate players and a predictable red card.
It was later confirmed that Gascoigne had suffered a double fracture of his leg.
It did not take long for Town to exact further retribution. A corner was poorly defended and Paul Clayton found the corner of the net with a header to which keeper Sam Ashton surprisingly did not move.
As Chorley slowly recovered, there was a crucial moment just before half-time when Aaron Burns got in a powerful shot which keeper Peter Crook fumbled. The ball appeared to trickle just over the goal-line before the keeper scooped it clear but the visitors’ protests went unheeded by the officials.
Hopes rose among the strong contingent of Chorley fans on 54 minutes Hine reduced the deficit. He intelligently anticipated the flight and bounce of a long punt downfield by Ashton to send a looping header from the edge of the box beyond Crook and into the net.
But then the elusive Jack Emmett met a left-wing cross unchallenged eight yards out and easily beat Ashton to make it 3-1.
On 74 minutes three became four, Jordan Thewlis converting Town’s second spot-kick following a trip by Matt Flynn.