The Magpies’ dream of back-to-back promotions ended on Saturday as a resurgent FC United side defeated them 2-0, with their fortunes not being aided by two refereeing decisions which could, and possibly should, have gone their way.
It was a cruel end to what has been a fantastic first season back in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, finishing 3rd in the league and triumphing in the Co-operative Challenge Trophy final at the Reebok Stadium.
Back to the game itself, and the Magpies squandered a very good chance to take the lead early on when Chris Denham found himself in space on the left hand side of the box.
His attempted pass to Foster, however, was cut out. At the other end, a Carlos Roca free-kick caused a mad scramble in the penalty area before it was cleared, then Chorley hit the back of the net through Adam Roscoe only to discover the referee had given a foul on the keeper, although it did seem extremely soft!
Roca, Wolfenden and Norton (twice) all went close but all the efforts were fairly comfortable saves for Russ Saunders.
After the break, Chorley were extremely unlucky not to take the lead, as Ciaran Kilheeney saw his rasping drive smash back into play off the crossbar with James Spencer in the Rebel goal helpless, before FC took the lead from what seemed a very harsh free-kick to give!
The ball was knocked into the penalty area, was only half cleared and Michael Norton, who played using his elbows and head all through the game, showed his tricky side as he turned before curling skilfully into the top-corner of the net.
The Magpies had to respond and they did, with Steve Foster receiving Andy Russell’s pass and finishing, but the referee ruled it out after seeing an infringement to cut short the Magpies’ celebrations.
The game was sealed in harsh fashion, as Chorley were denied a clear penalty when Steve Foster’s back was used as a climbing wall before he was shoved to the ground.
However, the referee failed to whistle, and Ashley Mulholland twisted Andy Teague inside out within the penalty area and finished well.
At 2-0, Chorley’s season was all but over, and the only threatening chance as the game approached full-time was Mulholland failing to reach a low ball across goal where a touch.
The result was perhaps harsh on Chorley, and it was certainly a game which could have gone either way, but the Magpies can certainly look forward to next season with an eye on a stronger push for promotion.
Chorley: Saunders; Ross, Teague, Russell, Ince; Roscoe, Vermiglio, Flitcroft (Cunliffe), Denham; Kilheeney, Foster
Man-of-the-Match: Tom Ince – Solid defensively and always looking to get forward where possible.