Brandon to the rescue for Magpies

Brandon Zibaka
Brandon Zibaka
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Forgotten youngster Brandon Zibaka proved be the hero for Chorley as his equaliser with the last kick of the game earned his side a draw at Witton Albion.

The Magpies’ saviour was not even on the original team-sheet, making the bench, with the permission of the referee, only because of an injury in the warm-up to Darren Stephenson.

Zibaka has had few chances to make his mark since signing from Preston but he seized the moment to grab a point which could be of priceless value in the end-of-season championship reckoning.

After a bright start in which James Dean’s athletic overhead volley was tipped onto the bar by home keeper Paul Cooper, the visitors lost their grip and two goals in four minutes midway through the first half put Witton in charge.

The outstanding Alex Titchener, back from Fleetwood, initiated the first and scored the second.

He released the tricky Daniel Andrews down the right on 23 minutes and the winger slipped the ball inside to Josh Hancock who placed his shot to perfection.

Then Titchener capitalised on a dreadful mix-up between Keil O’Brien and Sam Ashton. The keeper raced fully 35 yards from goal only to kick the ball against O’Brien from where it spun into the path of Titchener who calmly stroked the ball into an empty net.

Chorley almost got one back when Cooper fumbled a long-range drive from Paul Woolcott before Ashton redeemed himself with a double save as Albion again broke through.

After the break and Cooper pulled off a stunning reflex save to tip Dean’s close-range volley for a corner.

There was a close call at the other end when Andrews skimmed the bar with a 20-yards’ free-kick and then teed up Michael Powell who shot straight at Ashton. Then Dale Whitham almost dismantled the Witton bar with a thunderous strike from 30 yards.

Something had to give and it was Chorley who struck on 82 minutes. Mark Ross supplied Chris Almond who drove a strong shot into the ground but was relieved to see the ball bounce high beyond the grasp of Cooper and nestle in the far corner of the net.

The Magpies were rampant now and crosses rained into the Albion penalty area.

In the sixth minute of time added on, a melee in the Witton box culminated in Zibaka crashing an unstoppable shot into the net to salvage a precious point.

Lancaster City made it three wins on the bounce and moved up to fifth place in the NPL First Division North with victory over Mossley on Saturday.

Goals from Jordan Connerton and Gavin Clark in each half saw City move back into the playoff places with a 2-1 win at Giant Axe.

Richard Bennett’s header early in the second half drew the hosts level after Connerton opened the scoring on 41 minutes, before Clark buried a rebound on 55 minutes to retake the lead.

City wins means they leapfrog above Bamber Bridge, who they play at Irongate next Saturday.

Brig drop to seventh after their 1-0 loss away at Ossett Town, who move to within five points of Neil Crowe’s men.

Elsewhere in the division, Clitheroe were well beaten 3-0 away at Northwich Victoria, but there was better news for Kendal Town who defeated promotion chasing farsley 2-1 away. Daniel Mitchley (46) and Callum Hoctor (75) were on target.

Mark Beesley’s goal six minutes into the second half ensure Burscough defeated Wakefield 1-0 at Victoria Park.

In the Premier Division, Richie Allen’s penalty five minutes from time rescued a point for Fylde away to Blyth Spartans after The Coasters had fallen behind inside a first half which they had edged in terms of performance.

Danny Lloyd and Matt Blinkhorn couldn’t make their pressure tell as they missed chances for a Fylde lead before Blyth went ahead through Daniel Maguire in the 34th minute.

But despite an intense 35 minutes of pressure from the home side trying to seal the three points, Lloyd looked to have been taken down just outside the box but the referee gave a penalty and Allen stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way.

In the Conference Premier,, Southport were 3-0 winners over Dartford.