Chorley 2, Darlington 1: Magpies dig in to snatch all three points against impressive Quakers
"We weren’t the better side out there" was manager Jamie Vermiglio’s honest verdict after seeing the Magpies grind out a precious victory over an enterprising Darlington team who, it must be said, were worth at least a point from a very tight game.
This win lifted Chorley into fifth place and made it five wins in an unbeaten sequence of six league games but they were never able to really impose themselves on a Quakers’ team who posed a constant threat without finding the finishing touches.
It seemed only justice when with 13 minutes to go Darlington finally cancelled out Chorley’s first-half lead – only for Magpies’ substitute Jacob Blyth to deliver a precious victory nine minutes from time.
Darlington looked the sharper side from the off but the first half proved high on endeavour but short on goalmouth incidents.
Connor Hall and Jon Ustabasi both created good positions to score but failed to get enough power on their shots, requiring keeper Tommy Taylor to make no more than regulation saves.
The best effort so far came on the half-hour when a fierce drive from just outside the box by influential Darlington skipper Will Hatfield was tipped over the bar by Matt Urwin at full stretch.
The Magpies lead on 38 minutes came out of the blue. Patient build-up play on the left culminated in a low centre from Ustabasi which deflected off the luckless Ben Hedley into his own net at the far post.
As the visitors increased the tempo after the interval, Kevin Dos Santos wasted a glorious chance to equalize from a clever pass by Hatfield, shooting high over with only Urwin to beat from six yards.
At the other end, Taylor saved well at his near post from the lively Millenic Alli and Mike Calveley headed inches wide from a searching Billy Whitehouse cross but the more dangerous moves were still coming from the Quakers.
Leading scorer Luke Charman was unlucky to see a dipping drive land on the roof of the net, while Urwin showed sound judgement and safe hands in dealing with crosses whipped in from the by-line and a couple of snap-shots coming through a crowd of players.
It was no real surprise when Charman equalized on 77 minutes with his seventh goal in as many matches – nodding home following a short corner which Jake Cassidy had met with a superb header from beyond the far post.
As Vermiglio observed afterwards, the Magpies were suddenly faced with a battle to ensure they preserved a point but suddenly on 81 minutes they were once again looking at three.
Following a long throw from Adam Blakeman, a Darlington defender was forced to head off the line with Taylor beaten and the ensuing corner was met by an unmarked Blyth at the back post who planted a firm header into the corner of the net.
"It’s a great sign ’when we can play badly and still get the win," said the Chorley boss. " We are in a good position now ahead of a busy few weeks."
CHORLEY : Urwin, Henley, Leather, Smith, Baines, Whitehouse (Goodridge 83), Tomlinson, Calveley, Ustabasi (Blakeman 71), Alli (Blyth 63), Hall. Unused subs. Shenton, Scarborough.
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