Chorley 4 FC United 0
Chorley returned to the top of the National League North after completing an impressive maximum nine-points’ haul from their festive season programme with this ultimately comprehensive victory over struggling FC United.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Magpies. In a largely featureless first half, ex-Clitheroe striker Kurt Willoughby had come close to giving United the lead with a powerfully-struck free-kick which whistled just over the bar.
Indeed the Reds had offered stubborn resistance with a full complement of players on the pitch but within five minutes of the re-start they were in trouble.
Michael Donohue was given a second caution for a dangerous tackle and his red card quickly proved pivotal.
Moments after his 51st minute departure, Chorley went ahead when after a neat build-up Alex Newby’s square ball across the box was confidently tucked away by his twin brother Elliot.
The introduction of substitute Louis Almond gave the Magpies fresh impetus and three goals in a barnstorming seven minutes’ spell saw the United defence fold in alarming fashion for their vocal supporters in a bumper holiday crowd of 2,021.
Another smart raid down the left culminated in Elliot Newby stroking home his second goal on 76 minutes before Josh O’Keefe struck twice in quick succession. From Adam Blakeman’s floated corner, O’Keefe powered a perfectly timed header into the far corner of the net and then, as a Marcus Carver cross caused chaos in the visitors’ defence, O’Keefe was presented with the chance to fire a terrific drive into the roof of the net for Chorley’s fourth goal.
Defeat for Bradford Park Avenue at home to Guiseley enabled the Magpies to replace them at the top and go two points clear with a game in hand.
For Jamie Vemiglio’s side, the New Year could not have started more brightly.
And there was further good news with the welcome return of influential centre-back Scott Leather who played the whole of the second half on his delayed recovery from injury.
CHORLEY: McMillan, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague (Leather 45), Baines, Meppen-Walter, A. Newby (Almond 68), O’Keefe, Carver, Wilson (Cottrell 78), E. Newby. Subs (not used): Hooper, Eccles.