Chorley 4 Marine 0
Chorley emphatically defeated Marine to the delight of their very vocal fans in a superb crowd of 2128, only to learn that their hopes of enjoying a title celebration had to be put on hold.
The only challengers for the crown FC United had once again staged the great escape and snatched a 3-2 win at Gigg Lane in added time against an Ashton United side who led 2-0 at the interval.
So the show rolls on to Buxton on Saturday, with Garry Flitcroft’s Magpies still one point ahead.
This game provided a routine victory for the home side, whose desire and sheer determination to win were too much for Marine, who played some neat football in midfield but rarely threatened a goal.
Chorley went ahead in the 17th minute when keeper Callum Williams, under pressure, punched out a well-flighted Dale Whitham free-kick and James Dean found the corner of the net with a mis-hit low shot.
Darren Stephenson made it two on 25 minutes, pouncing at the far post to fire into the roof of the net after Dean had had a shot blocked in a crowded penalty area.
Will Jones got in Marine’s best effort, skimming the bar with a powerful 30-yard drive.
Chorley’s victory was effectively sealed in the 48th minute, the result of neat play down the right.
Josh Hine laid the ball back for Whitham, whose touchline cross was headed home at the far post by Dean for his 26th goal of the season.
The striker was close to a hat-trick later when he connected beyond the far post with Alex Nicholson’s searching centre but could not quite direct his shot on target.
As Chorley sat back, Marine found room for a couple of attempts from inviting positions but each time Sam Ashton reacted quickly to deny first Jones and then Andy Fowler.
The Magpies underlined their victory in the 87th minute when substitute Chris Almond broke through to score with a neat finish into the corner of the net.
“We are the form team,” said Chorley Garry Flitcroft afterwards.
“We’ve just got to look forward to Saturday and aim to finish the job at Buxton.”
YESTERDAY’S OTHER RESULTS
Conference Premier: Southport 2 FC Halifax Town 1.
NPL Premeir Division: Skelmersdale United 0 AFC Fylde 5.
NPL First Division North: Bamber Bridge 5 Mossley 1, Burscough 1 Radcliffe Borough 3, Kendal Town 0 Lancaster City 1, Padiham 2 Clitheroe 0.