Stephenson stars but Magpies left frustrated by controversial decisions

Darren Stephenson scored a hat-trick against Hyde FC
Darren Stephenson scored a hat-trick against Hyde FC
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Darren Stephenson’s hat-trick was overshadowed by a poor refereeing performance as Chorley dropped points away at Hyde FC in the Vanarama Conference North.

The Magpies had fallen behind after 22 minutes when Hyde skipper Josh Brizell struck a sweet effort from 25 yards.

Chorley hit back in the second half through Stephenson but they immediately fell behind as Tom Bentham poked home on the line.

Stephenson then showed his class and finishing ability to equalise and then put the Magpies in the lead before a cruel refereeing decision in the last minute which saw Chris Doyle sent off and Connor Hughes send Sam Ashton the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Stand-in skipper Dale Whitham was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence and both sides shared the spoils at Ewen Fields in a 3-3 draw.

Playing their first game at Ewen Fields in 11 years, Chorley looked to build on Saturday’s impressive home victory over Harrogate Town, the visitors started strongly, defender Tom Smyth seeing his volley cleared off the line with just 50 seconds on the clock.

Smyth was in the action once again, Adam Mather whipped in a free kick which goalkeeper Billy O’Brien could only have clear and on hand was Smyth with the volley but big Bentham lunged himself into the block and turn the ball wide for a corner.

The home side had their first chance of the half after 15 minutes, the impressive Reece Gray broke at pace down the left hand side, he cut in past Doyle inside the area but goalkeeper Sam Ashton dived low to his right to turn it round the post.

Hyde then took the lead after 22 minutes, Whitham saw his through ball blocked, ex Blackpool man Louis Almond broke down the left hand side, he then found skipper Brizell down the right hand side and from 25 yards he bent an effort across Ashton with help of a slight deflection off Mather.

Chorley immediately went in search of an equaliser and five minutes later, Darren Stephenson, Mather, Whitham and Josh Hine all exchanged passes which saw Stephenson played through on goal but his effort was well saved by the onrushing O’Brien.

Despite being 1-0 down, the Magpies continued to press, Hine firing a drilled effort straight at O’Brien and Roscoe heading wide of goal from a Mather corner.

The Magpies had further efforts at goal, Mather twice seeing efforts saved by O’Brien.

Three minutes into the second half and Chorley grabbed an equaliser, Hine broke down the right and his cross come shot was tapped in from one yard by Stephenson.

But Chorley found themselves one minute later, Almond weaved into the area and unleashed a shot which Ashton could only punch, the ball was taken to the byline and despite shouts from the Chorley players that the ball left the field of play, play was waved on and the ball was crossed for Bentham who tapped home into an empty net.

Bentham then surged into the area beating Mather for pace down the left hand side but his effort narrowly went over the crossbar.

Chorley boss Flitcroft introduced Harry Winter and Paul Jarvis at the expense of Adam Roscoe and Hine as his side stepped it up a notch in the hunt for an equaliser.

With 22 minutes remaining, Chorley grabbed a deserved equaliser, a long ball was punted forward from Ashton and latching onto the ball was Stephenson and he exquisitely lobbed the stranded O’Brien to send the travelling Chorley faithful wild.

The Magpies had their tails up and two minutes later the comeback was complete, Stephenson found space down the right hand side and from an acute angle he unleashed a powerful shot across O’Brien to seal an impressive hat-trick.

Hyde continued to attack and on the counter they constantly looked a threat, Gray scuffing an effort wide of Ashton’s right hand post from 10 yards,

Steve Tames then had a glorious chance on the edge of the area but he opted to chip Ashton rather than strike it and his effort sailed well over the bar.

As the game neared the end, on-loan Morecambe defender Doyle was adjudged to have hauled down Bentham and referee Peter Gibbons awarded the red card and then pointed straight to the spot despite the tackle happening outside the area.

Up stepped Hughes who sent Ashton the wrong way slotting the ball calmly to his right.

Chorley were then reduced to nine men as Whitham was sent off for a second bookable offence and with one minute remaining Ashton pulled off a remarkable last minute save diving to his left to claw away a header which denied Hyde a certain winner.

Chorley: Ashton, Ross (Jacobs 70), Mather, Doyle, Smyth, Roscoe (Winter 64), Hine (Jarvis 64), Whitham (c), Dean, Dorney, Stephenson

Chorley subs not used : Teague, Mulholland