Hall at the double as Chorley ease to victory over Kettering Town
A commanding first-half display set up an ultimately convincing 3-1 victory over Kettering which takes Chorley within two points of National League North leaders AFC Fylde.
Moreover, the gap between the Magpies in third place and their pursuers is now a significant seven points.
In truth, Chorley could have been out of sight at half-time.
Man-of-the-match Connor Hall struck twice and was only denied a hat-trick before the break by a stunning save from keeper Rhys Davies, while Harry Cardwell missed an easy chance to add a third from short range.
Little had been seen of the Poppies in the first half but they were revitalised by a double substitution at the break and took the sting out of the home attack.
They also caused more problems for the Magpies’ defence, which held firm in the face of a series of long throws and corner kicks – until the 81st minute when a brilliant strike by the classy Callum Powell threw Kettering a potential lifeline and set up a tense finish for the home fans.
But a superb goal five minutes later settled the nerves both on and off the field and sealed the Magpies’ third straight home win.
Chorley were sent on their way after seven minutes when a howler by Davies, who dropped a hanging cross from the left, allowed Hall to gleefully head into an empty net from six yards.
The keeper redeemed himself with a magnificent diving save to turn a Hall effort round the post from an Adam Blakeman free-kick.
When Cardwell was hauled to the ground in a crowded penalty area following another precise Blakeman delivery, Hall confidently dispatched the 39th-minute penalty for his eighth goal of the season.
Almost at once Cardwell received the ball unmarked 10 yards out only to shoot tamely straight at Davies.
Matt Urwin in the home goal had enjoyed a very quiet first half, his only moment of relief coming from a reflex block from a header at point-blank range with the score at 1-0.
He had to be much more on his toes as the second half progressed but his handling was secure in dealing with Kettering’s best efforts. He could do nothing about Powell’s fine strike from 20 yards which threatened to trigger a late Kettering bid for a point.
That was until a sublime move four minutes from time added the gloss finish to Chorley’s victory.
Sub Mace Goodridge won the ball in midfield and supplied Hall who ran 30 yards through the visitors’ defence, before teeing up Willem Tomlinson who fired the ball into the net for his first goal for the club. The Duke Street end erupted to acclaim a goal as polished as they will see all season.
CHORLEY: Urwin, Henley, Blakeman, Leather, Baines, Tomlinson, Calveley, Whitehouse (Smith 62), Ustabasi (Goodridge 71), Cardwell (Blyth 78), Hall. Subs (not used): Shenton, Alli.