Whitby Town 1 Chorley 1
Chorley boss Garry Flitcroft saw this as ‘a big point’ for his title-chasing Magpies but as a pointer to the destiny of the championship the result was inconclusive.
Although AFC Fylde’s shock home defeat to Grantham Town leaves the Coasters as outsiders now, FC United’s late comeback to win at Stamford cut Chorley’s lead to a single point with two to play.
Monday’s programme might be much more informative as a slip-up by either of the top two could virtually hand the title to the other.
This match offered uninspiring Easter fare in an untidy contest on a drying surface, with both sides repeatedly guilty of wayward shooting.
Chorley were good value for their interval lead but were uncharacteristically caught out within three minutes of the restart and after that lost the initiative. Nevertheless, mercurial striker Darren Stephenson could have won it had he accepted a gilt-edged chance in the closing minutes.
Chorley built on a bright start to take a deserved lead in the 25th minute.
Max Cartwright swung over a teasing corner and Andy Teague outjumped the home defence to head home in-off the far post.
Whitby livewire Adam Rundle had a goalbound effort bravely blocked by Cartwright just before half-time and this heralded a strong second-half performance by the Seasiders who equalised in stunning fashion in the 48th minute.
Tom Portas whipped in a driven cross which Graeme Armstrong at full stretch met with his chest, the ball flashing past Sam Ashton.
Armstrong later prodded wide of an unguarded Chorley net following a mix-up between Ashton and Keil O’Brien.
But it was the visitors who looked set to score when from a penetrating Paul Jarvis run and centre James Dean got in a telling downward header which Shane Bland did exceptionally well to keep out.
Rundle was again denied by a desperate block, this time by substitute Adam Roscoe, and then tested Ashton’s reflexes with a close-range deflection of a free-kick which the keeper dived to save.
Chorley supporters, numbering some 200 in a crowd of 447, thought the vital victory was beckoning three minutes from time.
Dean broke smartly and slung over a great cross towards the far post, leaving Stephenson one-on-one with Bland but the striker could not squeeze the ball past the onrushing Whitby keeper who saved with his legs.
CHORLEY: Ashton, Ross, Cartwright (Anderton 67), Teague, O’Brien, Jarvis, Hine (Roscoe 70), Woolcott, Dean, Stephenson, Cottrell
AFC Fylde’s bid for the NPL Premier Division title faltered when they went down 2-1 at home to Grantham Town.
Jordan Hempenstall scored twice for the visitors early in the second half.
And although Richie Allen pulled a goal back for the Coasters, they could not get an equaliser.
In the NPL First Division North, Bamber Bridge’s play-off hopes received a lift with a 2-0 triumph at Radcliffe Borough.
Alistair Waddecar scored a fourth-minute goal to put Brig in charge.
And Alex Taylor (24) doubled their advantage, and that was how the score stayed.
Lancaster City drew 1-1 at home to Padiham.
The visitors edged in front through Lee Ashcroft’s ninth-minute strike.
But Ryan Elderton (16) levelled matters for the Dolly Blues.
Clitheroe lost 3-0 at home to Curzon Ashton.
The Tameside outfit’s goals came from Ryan Watson (4), Sam Walker (26) and Christopher Rowney (62).
For the second time in a fortnight, Burscough failed to score and lost by three goals to a club who sit below them in the table, going down to Prescot Cables at Valerie Park on Saturday.
A second game without the suspended Liam Caddick saw the Linnets suffer without his pace and ability to break though the back four.
Isaac Kusaloka (18, 68) put Prescot in charge and Luke Robinson wrapped up the points 10 minutes from time.
Kendal Town were 4-0 winners at New Mills.
Michael Rushton got their first, four minutes before half-time.
Town’s other goals came from Dan Mitchley (70, 73) and Richard Mercer (79).
In the Conference Premier on Good Friday, Southport drew 2-2 at Gateshead. Chandler scored twice for the hosts, George and Walker netting for Port.