Chorley 0, Harrogate Town 2: magpies beaten by promotion chasers
There was no hiding-place at Victory Park for Jamie Vermiglio’s relegation-haunted Magpies who had their limitations exposed by a slick Harrogate Town side which climbed into third place in the National League after a maximum six-points’ haul from the two-festive season games.
The visitors simply had too much quality for a toiling Chorley team and with more careful finishing in the second half they could have at least doubled the winning margin.
After a promising opening twenty minutes in which they fired the first two shots, the Magpies, once behind, were very much second-best and mustered only one effort on target in a ragged second half.
A searching right-wing centre caused an early scramble in the Harrogate goalmouth and then Alex Newby had a strong shot charged down, while Marcus Carver fired straight at keeper James Belshaw from 25 yards. But then poor judgement by keeper Matt Urwin handed Harrogate a 27th-minute lead.
A lofted forward ball from midfield sent Jack Muldoon racing for goal down the right channel but Urwin opted not to advance and narrow the angle, leaving Muldoon to calmly drill the ball low into the far corner of the net.
Chorley did hit back quickly, Carver forcing Belshaw into a smart save at his near post from a stinging low drive – but that was to be as good as it got for the home side.
Urwin pulled off two reaction saves soon after the break to keep the Magpies at least in contention but there were signs that the home defence was becoming too easily opened up.
Calamitous defending midway through the half left the vastly-experience Jon Stead clear and he very tidily rounded Urwin before finding the far corner of the net from the tightest of angles.
Harrogate continued to ask questions of the shaky Chorley defence and in another lightning breakaway Lloyd Kerry drew another fine save from Urwin at the near post.
Finally, with some five minutes to play, Chorley managed a second-half effort on target, substitute Ntumba Massanka getting in a well-timed header which Belshaw dived to palm aside.
There was still time for the lively Stead to threaten a third Harrogate goal with a firmly-struck low cross-shot which the diving Urwin turned onto the far post, Muldoon astonishingly firing the reboundl over the gaping goal from five yards.
But it was all academic. The impressive visitors had already stamped their class on this game and won it with increasing authority.
CHORLEY : Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman (Massanka,73), Teague, Meppen-Walters, Baines, A. Newby, Smith, Nortey (E.Newby,63), Holroyd (Dodds,74), Carver. Unused subs. O’Keefe, Ross. Att. 1,077.