Chorley 2, North Ferriby United 2
Chorley missed the chance to climb into a play-offs slot with a below-par performance against relegation certainties North Ferriby.
The failure to win was down to a combination of careless finishing, uncharacteristic defensive errors and often heroic defending by the visitors who claimed their first point since early November.
Added to that was an inability to find the killer pass to unlock a heavily-manned defence which survived a series of close calls and successfully held out after losing their right-back with some ten minutes to play.
North Ferriby were gifted the lead in the 19th minute through a calamitous call by the normally dependable Matt Urwin.
The keeper left his line to claim a free-kick which he had no chance of reaching and Brett Agnew rose to head the ball beyond Urwin into the empty net. Fortunately, Chorley were able to hit back within two minutes, Jason Walker firmly heading home a corner.
From then to half-time, it was virtually one-way traffic towards the Humbersiders’ goal. In total three shots, two from Walker and one from Josh O’Keefe, were thus scrambled to safety before the latter was guilty of a shocking miss, firing over the bar from six yards.
Then a glorious cross-field pass released Matty Hughes but his attempted chip over the advancing keeper also cleared the bar.
There was little change in the pattern of play after the break. O’Keefe saw another decent effort smuggled off the line and Josh Wilson brought a superb save out of keeper Ross Durrant with a rising cross-shot.
A second Chorley goal had to come and O’Keefe provided it on 56 minutes, forcing home a corner at close range. The Magpies ought to have been able to manage the game from then on but a piece of casual play by Stephen Jordan who lost possession bringing the ball out of defence triggered unnecessary pressure.
Agnew’s first thunderous shot cannoned off the crossbar via Urwin’s fingertips and Andy Teague did exceptionally well to block the follow-up on the line. But the danger was not completely cleared and substitute Jordan Harrison (76 minutes) equalised with a sweetly-struck low drive.
Five minutes later Chorley looked set to regain the lead as substitute and Burnley loanee Khius Metz burst clear on goal only to be cynically hauled down on the edge of the penalty area by Paul Robson who was instantly shown the red card. The ensuing free-kick was lofted over the bar by Adam Blakeman.
The Magpies huffed and puffed to the finish without success, Durrant smartly turning over a teasing lob from Hughes and Walker firing the last shot way over bar. With creativity badly lacking, it was mystifying to see Dale Whitham, so influential in midfield, left unused on the bench, especially after Chorley had worked hard to get themselves into the driving seat.
CHORLEY : Urwin, Hughes, Blakeman, Teague, Leather, Jordan, Wilson, O’Keefe, Walker, Brewster (Metz, 61), Cottrell. Unused subs. Anson, Roscoe, Whitham, Beesley.