Chorley FC made a winning return to the Evo Stik League Premier Division with a hard-fought victory against North Ferriby Utd, who made it to last season’s play-off semi-finals.
The Magpies were comfortably the better side for the first hour of the game and good value for their two-goal lead, before losing their way a little following the departure of highly influential midfielder Jamie Vermiglio.
The game got off to a cautious start with the two sides cancelling each other out, before Chorley gradually began to gain the ascendancy.
A neat bit of build-up play from right-back Dale Whitham, playing in the absence of Mark Ross, created an opening for Tom Ince, but he was bundled off the ball.
Shortly after Ince crossed and Andy Teague headed over the bar as Chorley’s dominance grew.
It seemed only a matter of time before Garry Flitcroft’s charges broke the deadlock, and they went in front on 44 minutes when Steve Foster ran onto a through ball and crossed for Chris Denham to mark his Magpies debut with a goal.
The former Altrincham striker’s glancing header from six yards out going in with a little help from the post.
In contrast, North Ferriby were restricted to just one chance of note in the opening 45 minutes when Gary Bradshaw volleyed wide.
Chorley doubled their lead just three minutes after the restart when Vermiglio’s surging run into the penalty area abruptly ended when he was tripped closing in on goal, and Foster slotted home the resulting spot-kick.
The Magpies were now well in control of the match, but Matthew Striland prevented any complacency setting into the visitors’ ranks with a shot that rebounded off the woodwork.
Flitcroft decided to ring the changes around the hour mark as cramp began to set in, replacing Vermiglio with Tom Williams and completely changing the strike force as Denham and Foster made way for Mark Houghton and debutant Lee McEvilly.
Without Vermiglio anchoring things in midfield and Denham and Foster stretching the home defence, Chorley lost some of their dominance and North Ferriby began to claw their way back into the contest.
Houghton got a chance to put the game beyond the hosts, and Ince had a shot from distance, but otherwise the closing stages of the game belonged to the Humberside outfit.
Despite increasing possession the Chorley defence rarely looked like being breached, with Russ Saunders making an excellent debut in goal, but the chance of an opening day clean sheet disappeared with three minutes left, as Tom Walker fouled a North Ferriby player just inside the box and Paul Harsley converted the penalty.
The hosts pressed for an equaliser but the Magpies held firm to start their bid for a second-successive promotion in fine style.