Chorley 3, Darlington 2:Magpies fight back in second half to go top of National League North
A barnstorming second-half display in atrocious weather conditions took Chorley back to the top of the National League North.
The Magpies had to come from behind after trailing at the break but Darlington could not hold their determined hosts’ increasingly persistent attacks with the Newby brothers - Alex and Elliot - leading the charge.
Both teams had their better half playing into the strong wind and driving rain.
The Quakers started strongly and Matt Urwin had to race from goal to close down Harvey Saunders when he burst clear.
But Chorley were creating chances and the visitors were quick to pack their penalty-area, a goal-line clearance denying Louis Almond from six yards when a goal looked a formality.
The Magpies lost centre-back Adam Anson with a serious-looking knee injury and, before they had properly reorganised, Darlington’s recent loan-capture from Sunderland, Andy Nelson, capitalised on a misplaced pass to stride through and coolly loft the ball beyond Urwin in the 39th minute.
Urwin too failed to reappear for the second half but reserve keeper Danny Eccles stepped up to give a calm display and pull off two outstanding saves.
Chorley equalised on 55 minutes when Marcus Carver pounced on a half-clearance following a corner to smash the ball past Jonathan Maddison.
Eccles then prevented Darlington from regaining the lead by rushing out to save and soon afterwards made a superb diving stop from a Nelson piledriver.
Two goals in as many minutes midway through the half turned the game firmly Chorley’s way. Andy Teagu ghosted in to clip an excellent Adam Blakeman ball across the face of goal past Maddison inm the 66th minute and moments later when the keeper failed to deal with a left-wing centre, Alex Newby coolly sidestepped a challenge before stroking home the Magpies’ third.
He was then only just off-target with a stinging shot from just outside the box.
Chorley were looking comfortable with their lead but were given a late scare when on 85 minutes the hard-working Nelson broke through on the left and cleverly lifted the ball over Eccles for his second debut goal.
It was too late to rescue a point for the Quakers as the Magpies ran down the clock with some composed possession football to claim a precious victory. They now lead Bradford Park Avenue on goal-difference with a game in hand.
Manager Jamie Vermiglio hailed his team’s return to the summit : "We’ve not been at our best in recent weeks but from the last four games we’ve taken eight points and the picture is looking rosier now. We needed to win today to make the most of our game in hand and in the second half I thought we were outstanding and fully deserved the victory."
CHORLEY : Urwin (Eccles, 46), Challoner, Blakeman, Teague, Anson (Hooper, 38), Jordan, A. Newby (Cottrell,78), O’Keefe, Carver, Almond, E. Newby. Unused subs. Whitham, Wilson.