FA Cup opponents were a mystery to Chorley star Mike Calveley
Playing an FA Cup third round tie for the very time in the club’s history was not the only unknown quantity facing Magpies midfielder Mike Calveley and his team-mates on Saturday.
The Magpies were certainly entering into unchartered territory when they faced Championship outfit Derby County at Victory Park.
Never before had the club reached this stage of the competition in its 138 years in existence.
If that was not enough to give Chorley feelings of trepidation, then the fact that they were playing against a side who they knew nothing about only added to the suspense.
Managed by former England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, the Rams’ high-profile first-team stars would have been well known to the Magpies.
But the they were unable to feature in the game due to a Covid-19 outbreak at Pride Park, their places taken by members of the Rams academy squad.
Calveley revealed that boss Jamie Vermiglio had done his best to try to guess the make-up of the County line-up, but even that proved to be wide of the mark.
Expecting to face players from the Under-23s squad, Chorley actually came up against a team with an average of just 19.
Although they fought hard, they proved to be no match for a seasoned team like the Magpies, who ran out 2-0 winners with Calveley’s second half strike adding to Connor Hall’s 10th minute header.
“The gaffer put up a team in the changing rooms that Derby might be putting out,” Calveley said.
“But it was a completely different team from whatwe expected from their Under-23s side. So we didn’t have a clue about them, what their formation would be. Nothing!
“We just went into the game in the dark and just went for it.”
When news broke earlier in the week that the Rams had a Covid-19 situation, Calveley revealed that there was a big shift in terms of preparing tactically for the encounter.
Very much a footballing side, the Magpies knew the best way to secure victory against more inexperienced opponents was to be more physical and direct.
“The tactics changed massively,” he said.
“On Monday night, we did a training sessions about Derby’s shape and their intensity but then came the bolt out of the blue the next day that their first team wouldn’t be playing.
“We like to play football, but we could see when the game started that they were struggling to deal with the longer balls down the sides.
“We were winning most of the headers and that’s how we got most of our joy.”
Chorley return to their normal routine on Tuesday evening when they face Leamington in the National League North at home.