Chorley secure a play-off spot despite 2-0 final-day defeat to Halifax

Matt Jansen
Matt Jansen

The season might have ended with a final-day defeat to Halifax but the Magpies were still celebrating at the final whistle as Stockport’s slip-up allowed them to keep hold of a play-off spot.

Before kick-off Chorley’s destiny was in their own hands but a lack of ruthless edge in front of goal cost Matt Jansen’s men as they fell to a 2-0 defeat in a game they dominated leaving their fate to be decided in Greater Manchester.

It was a gut-wrenching two minute wait for all at Victory Park as hundreds of fans and the exhausted players on the pitch stood glued to their phones waiting for that all important full-time score from Stockport’s clash with Gloucester.

But news soon trickled through the stands that Stockport had drawn 1-1 and missed the chance to leapfrog Jansen’s side with celebrations ensuing in the stands and on the pitch as Chorley clinched sixth-placed and a play-off spot due to Darlington’s ineligibility.

The Magpies now face Kidderminster at home on Wednesday night and away on Sunday in a two-legged play-off semi-final as they bid to clinch promotion to the National League.

It was a scrappy first half of limited chances but it was Chorley who looked more threatening.

The lively Walker got his eye in early lofting the ball over the bar and then when given time and space once again in the danger zone outside the box he curled the ball towards the top right corner but it was just tipped around the post by Johnson’s fingertips.

With the score locked at 0-0 Halifax still had the opportunity to rattle the Magpies with Jordan Sinnott blasting a set-piece from just outside the box over the bar.

And Chorley did not head that warning as the visitors took the lead just before the break - albeit against the run of play.

Sinnott stole in on the right and Chorley keeper Dibble was unable to hold his effort as he parried the ball into the path of poacher Denton who was lurking unmarked in the six-yard box and fired home.

Chorley started the second 45 even brighter than Halifax’s luminous orange kit with Teague volleying over after a moment of controversy.

Danny Hone appeared to raise his arm in an aerial challenge with Chorley forward Carver but referee Steven Copeland brandished a yellow much to the home faithful’s disgust.

The Magpies got closer to that illusive goal as Adam Blakeman’s strike from outside the box clattered into the outside of the box but a goal for Stockport in their crunch clash against Gloucester readdressed the need for the Mapies to get at least a point with Jansen sending McDaid on for Jarvis.

Chorley dominated play throughout but just could not find a leveller with Blakeman floating a set-piece from the right just past the far post as the clock ticked towards full-time.

Halifax had defended in their numbers and despite being camped in their own half for most of the second half they managed to blunt the Magpies attack.

With four minutes added time Chorley bombed forward once again but they were caught out by a Halifax counter-attack with Challoner felling Danny Clarke in the box leading the referee no option but to point to the spot.

Substitute Liam King did the business from the spot to leave Chorley with an agonising wait on Stockport’s result at the final whistle but fortune shone on Victory Park and the play-offs now await.

Chorley: Dibble, Challoner, Teague, Leather, Jarvis (McDaid 63), Charnock (Roscoe 73), Blakeman, Whitham, Cottrell, Walker, Carver. Subs not used: O’Keefe, Beesley, Azam.

Halifax: Johnson, Moyo, Hone, Hotte, Brown, McManus (Wilde 82), Lynch, Sinnott (King 63), Clarke, Morgan (Peniket 57), Denton. Subs not used: Drench, Kosylo.