Chorley kicked off the New Year with a hard-earned victory over pre-season title favourites AFC Fylde.
This result lifted the Magpies back into second place following Worksop’s defeat at Matlock, while wins for Rushall, Kings Lynn, Blyth and Ashton United mean the Coasters dropped to 10th with their fifth straight defeat.
With many games succumbing to the wet weather, the famed Victory Park drainage ensured there was no postponement and Chorley recorded a massive league double, thanks to two goals from Josh Hine and a goal from James Dean against his former employers.
With constant rain and a gusty wind, the conditions made both sides dig deep and it was Fylde, playing against the wind in the early stages, who had the first attack.
But recently re-signed striker Sean Cooke fired in in the opening seconds, then soon after Adam Mather whipped the first of many balls into the box, but the superb delivery evaded everyone when only the slightest touch would have ended in a sure goal.
Adam Sumner should have done better with a Dave Hankin centre, but he could only head straight into the arms of a grateful Sam Ashton on nine minutes, then in the next attack Chorley found the back of the net.
Mather again delivered a great ball into the box which eventually broke wide right for Josh Hine who slotted into the bottom corner, beating Ben Hinchcliffe in the visitors’ goal.
Hinchcliffe was in action again soon afterward, turning a Dean shot wide, then it was Fylde’s turn to attack.
But Harry Winter hit a shot well wide after exchanging passes with Matty Blinkhorn inside the box.
However a minute later, the score was levelled.
Fylde moved the ball well, with Matty Hughes and Blinkhorn combining to feed Cooke who hammered home.
Winter and teammate Brad Barnes found their way into the referee’s book as a midfield battle ensued but Keil O’Brien and Hine both had chances to regain the lead for the Magpies while Marcus Carver likewise could have put his name on the scoresheet, too.
With the break approaching, Dean shot wide with the wind at his back, then both Dean and O’Brien missed the target from another Mather.
On 44 minutes Hines pace saw him leave Adam Sumner for dead, but his shot wide of the post and it looked like all square at the interval.
Bang on 45 minutes, Dean lashed in an unstoppable drive from 18 yards right into the top right-hand corner, leaving his former teammate Hinchcliffe a mere spectator.
Dean’s celebration showed just what the goal meant to him, sprinting over to the bench to celebrate with Garry and his staff.
Right from the restart Chorley regained possession and Hine outpaced the defence to lob Hinchliffe to add a third and send the 1,000-plus Magpies’ supporters wild.
After the restart both sides continued to probe for an opening, but no clear cut chance was created until ex-Magpies Danny Lloyd-McGoldrick tested Ashton on 56 minutes.
Chorley had a good shout for a penalty as Dean was dragged down in the box, but the referee ignored the pleas.
Fylde’s chances of getting anything out of the game were virtually removed, as was nearly Mark Ross’ head following a high challenge from Winter.
The Fylde player though, already on a yellow, received a straight red and he quickly disappeared down the tunnel.
The visitors made half-hearted claims for a penalty as Lloyd-McGoldrick tumbled in the box, but again the referee didn’t want to know.
Lloyd-McGoldrick, who only joined the game at half-time, was Fylde’s biggest treat and in the dying minutes had two further chances, while Adam Roscoe and Dean both had chances for the hosts, but at the final whistle the scoreline was the same as half time and the Magpies moved twelve points clear of their visitors while still holding two games in hand.
Final score: Chorley 3 - 1 AFC Fylde
Chorley XI: Sam Ashton, Mark Ross, Adam Mather, Andy Teague, Keil O’Brien, Jake Cottrell, Adam Roscoe, Paul Woolcott, James Dean, Josh Hine, Paul Jarvis
Subs: Darren Stephenson (Hine, 68), Jamie Vermiglio (Jarvis, 87), Keiran Walmsley, Simon Wiles, Aaron Grundy
Goals: JOSH HINE (11), Sean Cooke (22), JAMES DEAN (45), JOSH HINE (45+1)