Brackley Town 2, Chorley 1: Magpies undone by deflected goals and a missed penalty
Chorley returned to action after an unwanted two weeks’ lay-off in the only National North game to be staged amid the uncertainty surrounding the completion of the season.
That they returned from Northamptonshire empty-handed was due mainly to a costly penalty miss, but also hinged on two deflected shots within minutes which enabled high-flying Brackley to overturn a one-goal half-time deficit and win a very tight contest.
The hosts owed much to keeper Danny Lewis who not only brilliantly saved Connor Hall’s spot-kick, which would have put the Magpies two up, but also pulled off two impressive saves midway through the second half to preserve Brackley’s advantage.
Chorley went ahead after 14 minutes through Elliot Newby’s superb strike. Collecting the ball from the headed clearance of Will Tomlinson’s free-kick, Newby crashed a great shot into the top corner of the net.
Hall had a great chance to add a second goal from Harry Cardwell’s clever flick but Lewis just got a touch to his shot to keep it out.
Brackley’s attacks were well defended by Chorley and when Tomlinson was felled in the box midway through the half the chance was there again for the Magpies to strengthen their grip on the game. But the usually reliable Hall, who had previously converted all three of his previous spot-kicks, saw his firmly-struck effort aimed at the bottom corner kept out by the diving Lewis.
The home side had a good spell after the break and Matt Urwin produced a stunning full-length save to deny Shep Murombedzi. The home pressure paid off with two goals in three minutes around the hour-mark, both aided by a stroke of good fortune.
On 59 minutes a Lee Ndlovu shot deflected off James Armson to leave Urwin stranded and then Brackley completed the turn-around with an own-goal, when Wes York’s effort following a corner was deflected past Urwin by the luckless Cardwell.
Chorley hit back strongly and Lewis made two great saves in as many minutes, first from a Hall volley and then incredibly from a firm Cardwell header. But, as the Magpies pushed hard for a late equaliser, outstanding skipper Scott Leather twice prevented Brackley from extending their lead.
A perfectly-timed tackle stopped Matt Lowe when through on goal and then when Ndlovu neatly dinked the ball over Urwin, Leather somehow effected an acrobatic clearance off the Chorley line.
CHORLEY : Urwin, Birch, Halls, Leather, Baines (Owens,73), Calveley (Ustabasi,81), Cardwell, Newby, Tomlinson, Shenton (Garratt,46), Hall. Unused subs. Smith, Miller.