Magpies remain unbeaten

Chris Almond scored the second goal
Chris Almond scored the second goal
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Another solid display and a third successive clean sheet enabled Chorley – 2-0 winners at home to Stalybridge Celtic – to extend their unbeaten start to life in Conference North to four games.

This was a very workmanlike rather than spectacular victory with determination a higher priority than finesse.

Although Celtic opened threateningly, once Chorley were ahead through a James Dean header on 11 minutes they always looked the likelier winners.

And the introduction of mercurial striker Darren Stephenson on the hour gave the match the sparkle which had previously been lacking.

In the end, Chorley might have scored four or five.

Home keeper Sam Ashton was soon called upon to save a stinging Paul Ennis snap-shot at his near post as Celtic were first to settle.

But it was Chorley who took the lead. Chris Almond coolly retained possession near the corner flag and laid the ball back for Kyle Jacobs to swing over a deep cross which Dean headed in via the far post, keeper Lewis King slow to react.

The visitors’ most telling reply was a powerful 35-yard drive by Liam Dickinson which Ashton, well off his line and desperately back-pedalling, turned over at full stretche.

Almond then fluffed a chance when left clear on goal, his attempted placement into the far corner drifting a yard wide.

Ashton was in action soon after the break, parrying a fierce angled drive from Matty Hughes.

Stephenson’s arrival immediately raised the tempo as he won two successive corners and almost set up Almond in front of goal.

There was drama at both ends within a matter of seconds.

Ben McKenna missed a glorious chance to equalise, his hesitation allowing the quick-thinking Ashton to block his shot at the near post.

Immediately, the Magpies counter-attacked and Jacobs crowned a piece of nifty footwork with a thumping shot which cannoned off the upright, Almond driving the rebound disappointingly wide from six yards.

Then, as Chorley increased the pressure, Jake Cottrell was sent through but his attempted chip over King merely nestled in the keeper’s arms.

However, the Magpies finally settled the issue 10 minutes from time.

Stephenson was the provider, teeing up Almond for a composed finish to the delight and relief of home fans in another excellent crowd of 1,022.

Elsewhere in the Conference North, AFC Fylde and Guiseley played out a goalless draw at Kellamergh Park.

Fylde boss Dave Challinor said: “We’re pleased to get a point – on another day it could have been three.”