Chorley’s unbeaten start ends as National League North leaders go down at Bradford Park Avenue

Jamie Vermiglio
Jamie Vermiglio
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Bradford PA 1 Chorley 0

It was an unlucky 13th game for leaders Chorley in the chase for the National League North title, as Park Avenue ended their unbeaten start to the campaign.

It was a very scrappy match of few highlights.

A strong biting wind and a bumpy pitch made constructive football difficult for both teams and it always looked as if one goal might settle the contest.

It came with 13 minutes to go and though the Magpies were close to an immediate equaliser, the hosts successfully saw out the rest of the game to record a prestigious victory which on the balance of play they just about deserved.

Chorley were below their best, as manager Jamie Vermiglio acknowledged after the game.

“The endeavour was there but we were not really at it today as we should have been,” he said.

“I’m disappointed but still excited. We’re still top of the league and in a fantastic position which anyone would have taken if offered it at the start of the season.”

A quiet first half was punctuated by an early Oli Johnson shot for Bradford which a deflection carried over the bar, while at the other end Josh O’Keefe forced a smart save from Steve Drench after working himself an opening.

The start of the second period should have brought Chorley a goal from their best chance of the match. An Adam Blakeman centre picked out Alex Newby who could only head over a gaping net from short range.

Park Avenue built up pressure and Matt Urwin saved well from Johnson at the expense of a corner, from which Shane Killock got in a fierce cross-shot that was only just off-target.

Magpies’ substitute Kieran Glynn and Blakeman combined smartly to tee up Marcus Carver in the six-yard box but Drench denied him with a fine save.

The decisive goal in the 77th minute followed a free-kick won by Jake Beesley, who then darted into the right place to guide a close-range header past Urwin from Lewis Knight’s excellent delivery.

Almost at once Chorley might have equalised when from Blakeman’s well-flighted corner Courtney Meppen-Walter had a header cleared off the Bradford line.

And in the closing minutes Drench preserved Avenue’s lead by tipping over a Josh Wilson header.

After seeing his side move into third place just four points behind Chorley, Bradford manager Mark Bower said: “Chorley were going to lose sometime and I’m obviously very pleased it was against us.

“But they are an excellent team who will be right up there at the end of the season.”

CHORLEY: Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague, Leather, Meppen-Walter (Wilson 82), A Newby (Glynn 66), O’Keefe, Carver, Almond, E Newby. Subs (not used): Whitham, Cottrell, Anson.

Attendance: 554.