Magpies produce stirring comeback

Darren Stephenson against Harrogate Town
Darren Stephenson against Harrogate Town
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Garry Flitcroft hailed the ‘tremendous show of character’ by his Chorley team as they came back from the brink to pull off a vital victory.

Bottom-of-the-table Hyde looked anything but that as they raced into a two-goal lead inside 10 minutes and threatened to cause the shock of the day in the Conference North.

But the resilient Magpies clawed their way back into the match, equalising before the interval with two goals in as many minutes before sealing victory midway through the second half.

“I knew from the mood in the dressing-room at half-time that there was only going to be one winner,” said a delighted Flitcroft afterwards.

The unfancied Tigers roared into action from the start and on three minutes, Tom Bentham netted with a well-placed cross-shot before doubling the lead seven minutes later as he ghosted in to meet a corner with a firm header inside the far post.

And buoyant Hyde had chances to make it three before Chorley hit their stride.

But when they did, the hosts had Hyde rocking in a hectic four minutes. A Jake Cottrell blockbuster crashed against the underside of the bar and two attempts to force home the rebound were heroically blocked. Then two goals in the 35th and 36th minutes brought the Magpies level.

Chris Doyle converted Darren Stephenson’s low centre from short range and then Chris Simm, after keeper Connor Hunt had brilliantly parried his first close-range effort, forced the ball home at the second attempt.

Stephenson then fluffed a clear chance to put Chorley ahead, shooting tamely straight at Hunt.

The high tempo continued after the break with Hyde still in feisty mood but gradually Chorley got on top and in the 73rd minute, from James Dean’s through ball, the ever-alert Stephenson coolly lifted his shot beyond the advancing Hunt to put the hosts ahead to the delight and relief of home fans in a fine crowd of 1,125.

Excitement crackled at both ends as home keeper Aaron Grundy produced a stunning athletic save to tip a Bentham header over the bar before Simm had a shot kicked off the Hyde line.

Only a brave block by Hunt prevented Doyle crowning a surging solo run with Chorley’s fourth but in the end the resolute Magpies were deserved if narrow winners.

CHORLEY : Grundy, Whitham, Cottrell, Ross, Doyle, Roscoe (Dean,69), Hine (Almond,69), Winter, Simm, Stephenson, Mather. Unused subs. Jarvis, Jacobs, Ashton (g/k).

Attendance : 1,125.

Seven summers ago these two sides were split by six levels on the football pyramid.

In May 2008 Stockport County beat Rochdale 3-2 at Wembley to win promotion to League One via the play-off final.

In the same month, the Coasters also won at Wembley, winning the FA Vase Final thanks to a 2-1 win over Lowestoft Town as well as winning promotion to the North West Counties Premier Division in the same season.

The manner in which the two sides have gone through the leagues since then are incredible in their own rights to say the least but they met at Kellamergh Park in a very entertaining Conference North encounter which ended in a 0-0 draw.

AFC Fylde Manager Dave Challinor felt this was a game which ended with two points being dropped by his side at full time. “We had three gilt-edged chances to score today and they should have been scored.”

Elsewhere, Bamber Bridge were leading Scarborough 1-0 away through Alistair Waddecar when the match was abandoned due to a serious injury to home skipper Chris Bolder.

Results: Ossett Albion 3 Kendal Town 2, Lancaster City 0 Salford 2, Darlington 1 Clitheroe 1, Burscough 1, Farsley 3.