Double trouble has engulfed Chorley, who have been hit by long-term injuries to two key players.
The Magpies were rocked less than 48 hours before the trip to Alfreton by the news that goalkeeper Sam Ashton will miss the rest of the season owing to cruciate ligaments damage to his knee.
The injury was initially sustained against Harrogate two weeks ago and led to 20-year-old Shaun Rowley, an emergency loan-signing from Shrewsbury Town on Friday, making his debut in the Chorley goal.
Then just after the half-hour mark of Saturday’s match against Alfreton, centre-back Kieran Charnock was seriously injured in an aerial challenge with Alfreton’s Paul Clayton who was shown a straight red card for leading with his elbow.
It was later confirmed that Charnock has sustained a fractured eye socket and will be out for six to eight weeks.
The Magpies’ woes did not end there. Leading 2-0 with three minutes of normal time to play, they were stunned by a brace of goals by Town centre-back George Edmundson on loan from Oldham Athletic and were left to reflect on two points thrown away.
The National North’s strongest defence was ultimately three key men short as the experienced Steven Jordan also missed the match, and a lack of height at the back undoubtedly contributed to the setbacks in the closing minutes of an undistinguished contest.
There was little goalmouth action in the opening quarter before Chorley went ahead on 29 minutes from a penalty coolly converted by Jason Walker following a foul on Jake Cottrell. Clayton’s dismissal soon followed and the Magpies were able to double their lead four minutes before the break, Walker calmly finishing off a neat move in and around the penalty area.
Although Alfreton’s 10courageously threw everything into a second-half recovery bid, there was no real sign of a home goal apart from an Edmundson header which flew narrowly over the bar. A crucial miss eight minutes from time was to prove Chorley’s undoing. Marcus Carver put in a penetrating left-wing run and teed up Waqar Azam but after rounding keeper Fabian Spiess the substitute fired wide, albeit from a tight angle. A third Chorley goal then would surely have ended the contest. As it turned out, Alfreton pulled one back on 87 minutes when Edmundson bundled home a corner and the Reds’ recovery was completed in added time by Edmundson’s smart header.
CHORLEY : Rowley, Challoner, Blakeman, Leather, Charnock (Jarvis,36), Roscoe, O’Keefe, Whitham (Azam,73), Carver, Walker, Cottrell. Unused subs. Beesley, Hartley, Caunce.