Magpies soar to the top of table

James Dean
James Dean

Championship-chasing Chorley surged to the top of the league with a show of strength and stamina on an energy-sapping surface in at times appalling weather conditions.

Plucky visitors to Victory Park Stamford battled hard but ultimately had no answer to the marauding Magpies, who ran out 3-0 winners.

Garry Flitcroft’s men now lead second-placed Skelmersdale United by two points with two games in hand.

Visiting keeper Alex Lynch kept his side in the game in a busy first half. He brilliantly turned over a 25-yard free-kick by Kieran Walmsley heading for the top corner and then plunged late to his left to scoop out Jack Dorney’s downward header creeping inside the post.

Otherwise impressive Magpies debutant Chris Almond spurned the clearest chance, firing just too high from eight yards. It was no surprise when Chorley took the lead in the 37th minute even if the scorer was Stamford’s Daniel Lawlor who headed Paul Jarvis’s inswinging corner past a startled Lynch.

Almost at once Jake Cottrell was denied at close range before the visitors’ first serious attempt on goal after 40 minutes, a bad miscue from leading scorer Ryan Robbins.

Chorley were close to doubling their lead soon after the resumption when James Dean’s excellent deep cross reached Cottrell at the far post but a covering defender cleared his effort off the line with Lynch beaten.

With the elements now behind them, Stamford enjoyed spells of pressure and forced a series of corners but from one clearance the Magpies broke away to add the all-important second goal on 63 minutes.

Almond’s penetrating run released Cottrell who was upended inside the box and Dean crashed the resultant penalty into the roof of the net.

Chorley were clearly more comfortable now and Dean skewed his shot wide when well-placed.

But the home side sealed victory five minutes from time when Mark Ross overlapped down the right and slung over a raking centre which Dean bundled into the net at the far post to the delight of the Chorley fans in another excellent crowd of 875.

Other results which didn’t fall foul of the wet weather were Buxton 0, AFC Fylde 4, Salford City 2, Lancaster 1, Kendal Town 1, Darlington 5