Ashen-faced Magpies let lead slip

John Cunliffe
John Cunliffe
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Chorley let slip a promising half-time lead, twice earned, against title-contenders Ashton who turned up the heat in the second half and in the end were worth more than their one-goal winning margin.

A cracking contest contained action aplenty right from the off.

Adam Roscoe’s header was tipped over the bar by home keeper Paul Phillips but the Magpies came again inside that first minute to grab the lead.

Roscoe set up John Cunliffe who showed expert control in twice evading Phillips before tapping into an empty net.

Cunliffe was at his elusive best and from his centre Phillips did well to dispossess Roscoe all-set to apply the finish.

Ashton had hardly been in the game in the first 15 minutes but then two minutes later they equalised, when Aaron Burns’ glancing header surprised keeper Jack Cudworth and found the top corner. Cunliffe continued to impress, seeing one deft header from a long free-kick brilliantly saved by Phillips.

His close control led to Chorley regaining the lead in the 26th minute. Drifting into the box past two defenders, Cunliffe was brought down and Tom Ince scored easily from the penalty.

The visitors could have made it three following a superb build-up by Cunliffe and Kirk Millar. From the latter’s first-time cross Roscoe’s thumping header struck the bar. As Ashton hit back, Cudworth pulled off a reflex save at point-blank range from Matty Barlow.

Two goals in three minutes on the hour completely changed the game. Chris Lynch equalised for Ashton from short range and then a trip on Scott Hogan allowed Burns to put the home side ahead emphatically from the penalty spot.

As Chorley came under heavy pressure, only excellent saves by Cudworth from Hogan and Matty Kosylo prevented Ashton from rubber-stamping victory, although in a now rare Magpies’ counter Dale Whitham headed an inviting Millar centre straight at Phillips.

The irrepressible home side looked set for a late fourth goal when a mix-up between Andy Russell and Cudworth let in Kosylo but the keeper was quick to recover and clawed the ball to safety.

In the end, Ashton deservedly strengthened their title challenge, whereas Chorley’s promotion-drive seems in real danger of running out of steam.

Bamber Bridge were reasonably happy to take a point despite taking the lead at Radcliffe Borough.

Andy Bell had given the visitors the edge in the 15th minute lead and they looked set to hold on to that advantage until half-time.

However, Borough equalised five minutes before the interval through Laquan Esdaille and then took the lead a minute after half-time courtesy of Tom Brooks.

Alistair Waddecar restored parity 10 minutes later and despite the visitors having further attempts on goal, they had to settled for a point toextend their unbeaten record to four games.

Lancaster City ended a run of six games without a win with a comprehensive 3-1 victory away at Goole AFC.

Goals from Darren Green (17), Daniel Gregson (30) and Rob Wilson (72) sealed the win. Dean Sidebottom reply seven minutes from time was a consolation.

Burscough left it late to nick all three points at home to Ossett Albion. Albion took the lead against the run of play in the 35th minute.

Burscough drew level on 57 minutes as Quirk whipped in a superb cross for Jones to thunder in a header at the back post. The winner arrived in the final moments when substitute Antony Riley crossed from the left and Jones stabbed the ball home.

Clitheroe were 2-1 winners over Curzon Ashton and AFC Fylde went out of the FA Trophy 2-1 at Solihull Moors.

Kendal Town were thrashed 5-0 by Stocksbridge Park Steels. Southport lost 1-0 to Mansfield in the Conference.