Cup win could aid play-off tilt – Matt

Darren Stephenson and Jake Cottrell with the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy
Darren Stephenson and Jake Cottrell with the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy

Chorley manager Matt Jansen is hoping his team’s cup success could act as a catalyst for a late push for the National League North play-offs.

The Magpies covered themselves in glory on Monday night as they won the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy for a record 17th time.

Their penalty shoot-out success over Lancaster City at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium – after the two sides had drawn 2-2 in normal time – was Jansen’s first piece of silverware as a manager.

With nine games left of the National League North season, Jansen accepts his men have a lot to do if they are to give themselves a shot at promotion.

They are currently in eighth spot in the table – six points behind fifth-placed Nuneaton Town who occupy the final play-off position.

But the former Blackburn Rovers star is not counting his men out just yet and believes the confidence of winning a trophy could spur his men on.

“It could act as a catalyst for the play-offs,” said Jansen, who will prepare his side to face Curzon Ashton at Victory Park this weekend.

“But it’s a long shot I think. There are few other teams who are better placed at the moment.

“But the way that we have been playing recently, and this win in the Trophy, will give us a bit of confidence.

“We have got players who were ineligible to play in this competition to come back in for the league.

“You can never say never in football.

“I know it’s a cliche but we’ll just take each game as it comes.

“If the play-offs start to get closer and closer, then you start thinking, ‘Hang on a second, we have got a chance’.

Jansen paid tribute to City – who are two division below Chorley in the football pyramid – for producing such a spirited performance in the final.

They took the lead twice and it required Darren Stephenson to convert the rebound from his own penalty in the second half to take the tie to penalties.

“I said that Lancaster would come out fighting – that’s what they did.

“They started with aggression and desire and we had to match that, but for me we didn’t do that.

“Then it becomes a bit of an uphill task.

“We managed to get a goal back to equalise, but then straight away we were sloppy and so we go in at the interval 2-1 down.

“I just said we need characters and we’ve got a great team spirit.

“They are fighters and they showed that in the second half.”

With a couple of players ineligible for the final, Jansen was forced to shuffle his defence.

Without the services of Keil O’Brien and Courtney Meppen-Walter, the Chorley boss was forced to put Dale Whitham at right-back with Mark Ross moving inside. Keiran Charnock was moved out to left-back.

Long-servant Whitham did not have his best game in a Magpies shirt, but will be back in his more accustomed midfield role for the visit of Curzon tomorrow.

“Dale’s not a right-back,” said Jansen. “He has been outstanding for me in midfield and scored lots of goals.

“With the ineligibility of a couple of players, I had to play him as a makeshift right-back and it was difficult for him.”

O’Brien and Meppen-Walter are expected to return this weekend, while Paul Jarvis should be fully fit.