Ciaran’s killer instinct is the difference

Chorley FC's Ciaran Kilheeney
Chorley FC's Ciaran Kilheeney
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A single goal, his eighth of the season, from Ciaran Kilheeney was enough for a vital Chorley victory and a first league double of the season.

Grantham Town 0 Chorley 1

The midweek setback at Matlock had seen Chorley drop out of the play-offs slots but the three points from this game hoist the Magpies into third place in the table in the hottest NPL promotion chase in years.

While several of their rivals were involved in FA Trophy ties on Saturday, Chorley, Marine and Ashton United stole a march by collecting valuable victories.

This was a scrappy encounter spoiled by a wind.

“The conditions were horrendous for both teams,” said Magpies boss Garry Flitcroft. “We got our goal just in time when the wind was behind us and it gave us something to defend when Grantham had a lot of the ball second half.

“Our back four were very solid when it mattered most.”

The decisive goal arrived on 44 minutes from a well-worked free-kick. Dale Whitham shaped as it to deliver the ball high across goal but fooled the home defence by slipping a low ball towards the near post and Kilheeney reacted smartly inside the six-yard box with a deft flick beyond keeper James Martin.

Earlier Martin had pulled off the save of the match, flinging himself across goal to keep out Tom Ince’s volley, and also denied the lively Kilheeney twice from clear chances to open the score.

Grantham’s territorial supremacy after the interval yielded few clear-cut openings against a resolute Chorley back-four who were dominant in the air, with skipper Andy Teague effecting several important clearances.

The Magpies looked dangerous on the break with the speedy Kirk Millar getting in some testing crosses but the visitors could not find the second goal to wrap up the points.

It was left to Jack Cudworth to make a crucial late save to prevent Gingerbreads’ substitute Tony Battersby from snatching a point.