County 0 Chorley 2 ( Conference North) 21 March 2015
County`s slender play off prospects went west at Edgeley Park today where an altogether stronger and comprehensively more savvy Chorley side ran out deserved 2-0 winners.
A crowd of over 3000 turned up to see if County could hang on in there better than they did earlier in the season when they went down 3-0 to the pacy Lancashire side. To be sure.....we needed all our big guns reporting for service for anything remotely like that to happen, but with a string of injuries taking its toll pre kick off, this was always going to be a big ....big ask!
In the event, County were outplayed for long periods in a game in which two goals from Dale Whitham were more than enough to see the points won. The Hatters passing at times was disappointing, too many times hopeful long balls were launched from way back, only for the ball to come back at us in double quick time. By way of contrast the Chorley defence were in imperious form throughout, shutting the efforts of Ryan and Glover out with something approaching ease, ensuring that keeper Sam Ashton had as leisurely an afternoon as he might have wished for, and their attack might have had more than the two goals they did if their luck had been better and Hurst not.
Before the game there was another of those neat SCAN do`s in the Bung in conjunction with Help the Hatters, where presentations were made to sixties star Tommy Roberts( by Lancs) , and Johnny Price`s son John ( by another County Legend- Freddy Goodwin).
Chorley fans joined in what was another packed house in the revamped County Supporters Pre Match Venue of choice!
Onto the game and this was preceded by a minutes applause to mark the passing of fifties hero Ken Hodder.
This was beautifully observed, and big thanks go to the large Chorley contingent for their part in seeing this so! Great Stuff!
Off they went then, with County kicking towards the Cheadle End – Glover slinging an early cross over which no one in blue showed any interest in at all.
There was altogether more interest shown at the other end though where Jack Dorney went close as a long throw by Adam Mather made its way to him via the head of free scoring James Dean.
For a brief period I was not that worried....County were getting forward a bit, with Todd and Duxbury trying to use the flanks to good effect, but past the 9 minute mark and things started to change, and Chorley pushed on up the park, through Josh Hine who in rapid order forced a brave save from Hurst, and then watched as a follow up effort thudded into the keeper`s far post.
Somehow .....County survived that trauma, only to be confronted by another in the shape of a corner. Mather eased the angst by slicing a poor effort wide, only for the miseries to effect County again as Chorley queued up to shoot. Thankfully it was Adam Roscoe who finally managed it, only to lift the ball high and wide into the Railway End.
I briefly entered Rant Mode next as O`Halloran was booked, rather harshly in my view, for a foul on Roscoe, and cooled rapidly as Roscoe headed wide from the kick .
County were now well and truly under the cosh, as throws and corners pinned us into the last third, and with County`s method of choice being the long and hopeful ball to....err....., it was difficult to see how the flow of Chorley attacks could be stemmed. Twenty minutes had gone and, apart from 3 or 4 of them, County were decidedly second best.
Sam Ashton was a spectator- his only duty being to dart out rather sharpish, on 25 minutes, to get a back pass before Ryan could, a task he accomplished without too much trouble.
It went on in the same vein, and Hancock did well to hold off Dorney as he broke from deep. I was just settling down from that action when Chorley`s next attack saw Harry Winter go to ground on the edge of the box. An arguable decision ,at best, by the referee, but an excellent position from which to take a free kick, and Whitham made no mistake, leathering the ball home beyond County`s wall before Hurst could even think of moving!
Half an hour gone.....County one down......bugger!
But......Chorley kept the pressure on – Hurst making a save after Duxbury had been forced to concede a corner.
The 35th minute saw Glover win a free kick for County, being upended by Roscoe, but having got to his feet, the County number ten failed to test Ashton with a very tame kick.
On and on the Chorley pressure went.....Dorney winning another corner that Ryan did well to hook clear. Now.....from Ryans` clearance a break was on via Todd, and he did well until the lack of support, when it mattered, undid him! Yes... not a lot was going right for County, and twice through balls struck Ryan in the back as he went for them, whilst Moses had Row R, and around, ducking frantically as his effort, on 41 minutes, headed our way.
At the other end Hurst had to vacate the box to stop Hine`s gallop, and then hold his breath and hope as the same forward took advantage of some loose play from County, and bore down on goal. Thankfully the shot when it came went straight at the County keeper, and it stayed 1-0, as the whistle went for the break, but things did not bode well for County in the second half.
Some early pressure came from County on the re-start, with Duxbury sending probing balls into the box, and offered a tantalising glimpse of what might be possible, only for 3 or 4 minutes of tentative, but welcome pressure, to be rent asunder by a wayward ball that was quickly snapped up by Dorney. He was away and looking good, and Hancock did really well, stopping him with an inch perfect tackle that had the E.P. faithful applauding loudly.
The 52nd minutes saw a Russell, Ryan ,Glover move end with the latter`s header flying into Ashton`s arms, but mainly it was Chorley doing the attacking, as corners and free kicks again pinned County onto the back foot. Just when I thought we had weathered this particular storm....we hadn`t and I looked up to see Hurst diving to his right to push a header from Dean out! That was an excellent save, and County breathed more easily once again when Roscoe powered his header wide from the resultant corner.
This pattern repeated itself with Wilkinson conceding a corner under pressure, and Hurst in action producing a belter of a save to keep an unchallenged header from Chris Doyle out....and another moments later to deny Roscoe.
It was clearly only a matter of time before Chorley scored again, but I was relieved to see this moment delayed as O`Halloran stopped the rot as Dorney sidled into the box ,with the help of a `Harlem Globetrotter ‘ moment en-route.
By this time A.L. had started to shuffle his pack, bringing young striker Mike Hampson on for Hancock, opting again for 4 at the back as a result.
There were but 20 minutes remaining to play now, and County looked unlikely to score, so I took heart with the sight of a shot by Winter heading off into the Cheadle End. It hit a lad a midships, so no laughing matter really, and there was no cause for hilarity anyway , as within a couple more minutes County were being pushed back again , only the best of tackles by O`Halloran stopping the lively Hine. It went on......a terrific drive from Winter, bringing a magnificent diving save from Hurst in response!
Yes......this was heart warming stuff from the County keeper, but within seconds he was scrambling along his line trying to keep the ball out as Whitham claimed his and his side`s second goal with a speculative effort from 30 yards out!
For a time after this, County heads looked in danger of going down, as possession was spilled and nerves shredded as Chorley surged forward, looking for another goal. Arguably they didn`t need one, but Burns tried never the less, Lees doing well to ensure the eventual shot carried the bar.
With Lazenbury on late on for Ryan, and Lofthouse for Wilkinson, County did try- Duxbury`s shot the closest from Lofthouse`s knock down, but as before ,it was mainly Chorley on the attack- Whitham just wide with a snap shot smack on 90 minutes.
Four minutes added time was pure unadulterated torture for County fans, as Hurst confirmed his M.O.M status with another stonkingly good save , this one with his legs, as Hine made light of a challenge by O`Halloran.
Eventually the whistle went and the homeward trek could start.
I could hear the odd `boo’ `at the end, but the prevailing feeling of most was one of disappointment rather than anger- that was certainly the case with myself!
See you at Hyde no doubt, when maybe some of our injured players will be back on duty!
Meanwhile there was one County supporter who had a good day....Amy Wallworth,who won the inaugural SCSC Youth `Guess the Attendance Competition'.
Well done Amy...
County line up:
Hurst, Todd, Hancock ( Hampson 60), Lees, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Moses, Russell, Ryan( Lazenbury 79), Glover, Wilkinson( Lofthouse 74).
Subs not used:
Chorley line up:
Ashton, Ross, Mather( Dodd 89), Teague, Doyle, Roscoe, Hine, WQhitham, Dean( Burns 68), Dorney, Winter( Lynch 85).
Subs not used: