Dazzler Darren’s crucial for Magpies

Darren Stephenson in action for Chorley at Boston
Darren Stephenson in action for Chorley at Boston
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Chorley boss Garry Flitcroft believes hot-shot Darren Stephenson is key to his sides title chances.

tephenson struck twice in Chorley’s 3-0 drubbing of in-form Stockport County on Tuesday night.

And Flitcroft has backed the former Bradford City and Southport striker to shine in fourth-placed Chorley’s Conference North clash against Hyde at Victory Park tomorrow.

He said: “Darren has been outstanding recently.

“He has pace, ability and hegives his all in every game.

“Darren should and could be playing at a higher level but he wants to play for us, which is great.”

The 21-year-old scored a hat-trick when the Magpies drew 3-3 with rock-bottom Hyde at Ewen Fields back in October. That point is one of only seven the Tigers have picked up all season and Flitcroft is determined to avenge the result tomorrow.

He said: “It is a game we should have won.

“We had two players sent off, one when the referee gave a penalty – which I didn’t think should have been awarded – in the final minute.

“It will be a tough game. The teams down the bottom, like Hyde, are fighting for their lives.”

Chorley’s 3-0 victory over Stockport was the start of a six-match home run and Flitcroft hopes his men can take advantage of the quirk in the fixture list and rise up the table.

He said: “I thought the lads were brilliant against Stockport. They came to us on a good run and we got the result.

“We’ve got a few home games coming up and it is the perfect time to pick up points and move up the table.”

Tom Baker is still out, Harry Winter is due a suspension but James Dean is back after serving a ban for being sent off against Halifax Town in the FA Cup.

The only blot on Chorley’s victory over sixth-placed Stockport was an injury to central defender Tom Smyth.

He was substituted in the ninth minute with a hamstring injury and Flitcroft revealed he may be forced into the loan market.

He said: “Tom is out and will miss the game. He has been brilliant and he will be a big loss for us.

“We have a few injuries and I will see after Saturday’s match if we need to add to the squad.”

Chorley assistant boss Matt Jansen praised striker Chris Simm for seizing the opportunity to lead the line.

Simm had a spell at the club in 2010 and returned to the fold last month. And Jansen revealed the former Wrexham and Southport striker’s form has left him and Flitcroft with a selection dilemma.

Jansen said: “Chris came in for James and took his chance. He has played well and that has caused a selection headache for Garry and myself.”

He believes Chorley have learnt from their last clash with Hyde and he hopes the Stockport victory can kick-start a promotion push.

Said Jansen: ”We were disappointed with the result against Hyde. They are bottom of the table and we didn’t apply ourselves. But we’ve got a home run now and if you are in contention at Christmas that always gives you a chance.

“It was a massive win against Stockport and we want to build on that tomorrow.”

Elsewhere in the Conference North, AFC Fylde host Stockport and in the Conference, Southport travel to face Nuneaton Town.