Magpies force a point but still have work to do

Jason Walker netted the equaliser
Jason Walker netted the equaliser

Gloucester City 2 Chorley 2

Ten-man Chorley twice came from behind to claim a well-deserved point – but it was not enough to guarantee a place in the National League North play-offs.

Now lying sixth, the Magpies now need to avoid defeat in next Saturday’s final game at home to third-placed Halifax and also keep an eye on the outcome of Darlington’s appeal to the FA against the National League’s decision to exclude them from the play-offs, should they qualify.

This was a typical battling display by Matt Jansen’s men.

He said: “The effort shown by the team, especially in the second half, was for me the performance of the season.

“Even with 10 men we were the better side and deserved to win, let alone draw the game.”

With Gloucester keen to end their seven-year tenancy at Cheltenham’s Whaddon Road ground on a high, this was always going to be a big test for Chorley.

City went ahead in the eighth minute against the run of play.

Joe Hanks hoisted a free-kick into the box where leading scorer Luke Hopper guided a well-timed volley past debutant keeper Christian Dibble, an emergency signing from Nuneaton.

Chorley equalised on 21 minutes when Dale Whitham flicked a header into the bottom corner.

Three minutes later, Andy Teague was guilty of a mistimed challenge in the penalty area and Hanks maintained his 100 per cent season’s record from the spot, Dibble getting a hand to the ball but unable to keep it out.

The Magpies suffered a real blow in the 34th minute when striker Jack Sampson was shown a straight red card for an elbow offence.

But Chorley were thrown a lifeline on 45 minutes.

Whitham, leaping above City’s defence, headed a free-kick against the far post and Jason Walker was first to react to slip the rebound into the net from close range.

But Walker should have had another goal 12 minutes into the second half when he met a superb centre from Marcus Carver at the back post – but with the goal gaping he shot into the side-netting.

Carver later put in a strong run and decent shot but City keeper Jasbir Singh stood tall and diverted the ball for a corner.

Gloucester were dangerous on the break and Dibble saved well from Ed Williams.

The final chance fell to Walker but again Singh proved equal to the task as he dived to save.

CHORLEY: Dibble, Challoner, Jarvis (O’Keefe 75), Teague, Leather, Jordan (Walker 16), Blakeman, Whitham, Carver, Sampson, Cottrell. Subs (not used): Azam, Charnock, Roscoe.

Attendance: 526.