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MATCH REPORT | Harrogate Town 2-1 Chorley

The Magpies’ season came to an agonising end at Harrogate Town as Dominic Knowles’ strike deep into added time condemned Matt Jansen’s side to Vanarama National League North football for another season, writes Alex Birch.

In sweltering conditions Chorley held the advantage through Josh O’Keefe’s first half goal. However, once Lee Molyneux saw red it was backs to the wall, and although Town equalised from the stop through Dominic Knowles, extra time looked a certainty as the visitors dug in superb, until Knowles’ late intervention.

Team news

Matt Jansen stuck with the same XI that knocked out Stockport on Wednesday. Matty Hughes returned to the match day squad as a substitute.

Harrogate made six changes from their final day hammering of Curzon Ashton as James Belshaw, Ryan Fallowfield, Ben Parker, Josh Falkingham, Jack Emmett and Joe Leesley returned.

First half

The hosts started with purpose, creating two openings in quick succession. A high cross to the back post fell to the imposing centre forward Mark Beck, whose close-range snap shot was smothered by Matt Urwin. The rebound was cleared as far as Dominic Knowles on the edge of the box and he returned the ball with interest, only to see it hammer back off the bar.

Neat interplay between Knowles and Fallowfield opened up Chorley’s defence soon after, but there were enough bodies back to repel the danger.

The pressure continued following a Scott Leather yellow for a foul, but Beck’s header from the resulting free kick fell harmlessly wide. Beck was involved again when the industrious running of Emmett created space for a one-two with the number nine, but Urwin saved easily.

At the other the Magpies came close to scoring against the run of play through Jason Walker, but the hero of Wednesday’s win at Stockport just missed the target after finding room in the box. Then, on their very next attack, Chorley went ahead.

Matt Challoner’s challenge won the ball for Newby who attacked the area with gusto before putting the ball on a plate for O’Keefe to slam home.

The joy was short-lived, however, as Lee Molyneux picked up a straight red for a high challenge on Fallowfield just before the break.

Second half

The Magpies began with real purpose and were within a whisker of doubling their advantage when centre back Adam Anson’s mazy run ended in a shot going just wide of Belshaw’s left hand post.

A period of sustained, but unthreatening, Harrogate pressure followed, before the home side were awarded a penalty for handball following a goal-mouth scramble. Knowles obliged from the spot to level matters with 29 minutes remaining. 

The game carried on in the same vein until stoppage time, with neither side really looking like breaking the tie. That was until the 93rd minute, when Falkingham’s shot from the edge of the area ricocheted into the path of Knowles who calmly beat Urwin to send the home side through to next Sunday’s final.

Match stats

Harrogate (4-1-3-2): Belshaw; Fallowfield, Burrell, McCombe, Parker; Falkingham (c); Thomson, Emmett, Leesley (Wright, 80’); Beck, Knowles. Subs not used: Cracknell, Lees, Agnew, Kerry.

Chorley (5-2-3): Urwin; Challoner, Anson (Wilson, 67’), Leather, Teague (c), Molyneux; Cottrell, O’Keefe; Newby, Carver, Walker (Whitham, 57’). Subs not used: Gregory, Burgess, Hughes.

HT 0-1 /FT 2-1

Goal scorers: Knowles (pen, 61’, 90’+3); O’Keefe (36’)

BookingsLeather (21’), O’Keefe (60’), Challoner (86’)

Red CardsMolyneux (44’)

Attendance: 2,307

Referee: Rebecca Welch

Assistants: Terry Fletcher & Scott Taylor

Fourth official: Tom Parsons

MATCH REPORT | Stockport County 0-1 Chorley

The Magpies produced an impeccable display at Edgeley Park to knock Stockport out of the play-offs and set up a semi-final tie with Harrogate Town, writes Alex Birch.

Jason Walker was the goal hero, nodding in at the back post with 23 minutes remaining of a game that was high on energy and loud on atmosphere.

Team news

Matt Jansen made two changes from Saturday’s victory over Alfreton, with Scott Leather and Josh O’Keefe returning in place of Dale Whitham and Josh Wilson.

There were wholesale changes for County, who rested seven regulars at the weekend. Ben Hinchliffe, Chris Smalley, Adam Thomas, Paul Turnbull, Jason Oswell and Jimmy Ball all returned for Jim Gannon’s side.

First half

County put Chorley under pressure from the get go, winning a succession of corners that the visitors did well to defend. However, Chorley weathered the onslaught and began to grow in confidence as they got hold of the ball.

Alex Newby’s trickery and cross gave Josh O’Keefe the chance to head across goal, without a fellow Magpie in support. Newby tested Ben Hinchliffe from range, and Jake Cottrell blasted over as the ball sat up nicely.

The game ebbed and flowed for the rest of the half on a difficult, bobbly pitch, that left passing football at a premium. Two chances of note came and went. For Stockport a Matt Warburton cross was deflected goalward by Andy Teague and superbly tipped over the bar by Matt Urwin.

Chorley’s response saw Lee Molyneux belt a left-footed half volley from outside the box, only for a County head to bravely deflected the effort away for a corner.

Second half

Adam Thomas’s low corner ran through numerous legs and deflected just past the far post as the home side began the second half the way they did the first.

Once more Chorley held back the tide and without creating much still managed to calm the game down.

Then, with County panicking in defence, the killer blow was struck. As the hosts struggled to clear their lines the ball broke to Carver, who picked a peach of a ball out to the back post for Walker to head in from a yard out.

Cue bedlam in the away end and deafening silence from the majority 6,230 in attendance. A third wave of Stockport pressure surprisingly didn’t materialise, with the Magpies looking most likely to score again with some quick counter attacking.

There was still time for a glorious home chance as the ball fell to Darren Stephenson, but his goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Josh O’Keefe. With the game now breathless Chorley went straight up the other end as Newby tested Hinchliffe with a low drive from the edge of the box.

A few more high balls into the box were defend with ease, as Chorley saw out the remaining time to reach their third play-off semi in four seasons.

Match stats

Stockport (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Cowan, Smalley, O’Halloran (Stephenson, 79’), Minihan; Winter (c), Turnbull (Turner, 73’); Thomas, Ball, Warburton; Oswell. Subs not used: Clarke, Ormson, Walker.

Chorley (5-2-3): Urwin; Challoner, Leather, Teague (c), Anson, Molyneux; Cottrell, O’Keefe; Newby (Whitham, 90’+3) Carver, Walker (Wilson, 78’). Subs not used: Gregory, Burgess, Darr.

HT 0-0 /FT 0-1

Goal scorers: Walker (67’)

Bookings: Turnbull (56’); Cottrell (17’), Molyneux (48’)

Red Cards: None

Attendance: 6,230

Referee: Garreth Rhodes

Assistants: Andrew Kitchen & Derric Wade

Fourth official: Samuel Barrott

Next Up

The play-off semi-final at the CNG Stadium against Harrogate Town, scheduled for 3pm on Sunday, May 6.

Ticket prices will be announced in due course.

MATCH REPORT | Chorley 1-0 Alfreton Town

The Magpies ended their league campaign in style, securing a tenth Victory Park win and the division’s best home defensive record, with a 1-0 victory over Alfreton Town, writes Alex Birch.

Jason Walker was the goal hero for Matt Jansen’s play-off bound side, who showed no ill effects from a draining seventh game in 15 days.

Team news

Adam Blakeman and Matty Hughes missed out due to suspension and were replaced by Lee Molyneux & Jason Walker. Josh Wilson made his long-awaited return from injury ahead of Josh O’Keefe.

Alfreton made four changes as David Shiels, Ryan Jennings, Kegan Everington and Marcus Marshall came in for Edward Wagner, Brendon Daniels, Cieron Keane and Chris Sharp.

First half

The first 30 minutes produced little in the way of goalmouth action. It wasn’t until Tom Allan cut inside and beat Matt Urwin from close range that the excitement level kicked up a notch, but Lee Molyneux’s impeccable positioning kept the ball out.

Nyal Bell’s quick feet allowed room for a rasping drive that had Urwin worried, Kegan Everington shot wide from distance and midfield partner Tom Platt tested Urwin’s concentration. Most of Alfreton’s attacking was more delicate probing than gung-ho, however, and the best chance of the half fell to Chorley right of the break.

David Shiels’ horrendous back pass was seized on by Marcus Carver, but Chorley’s number nine couldn’t get the ball over the onrushing Chris Elliott.

Second half

Two defensive mix-ups seven minutes after the restart gifted the Magpies the lead. First ‘keeper Elliott shanked a clearance high into the air. Then, as the ball dropped, Shiels’ mis-directed header fell to Walker who beautifully lobbed Elliott from 12 yards.

Carver was inches from doubling the lead, but his header from a Matt Challoner cross was superbly tipped behind by Elliott. Josh Wilson missed the far post with a half volley after collecting a long through ball, before the final chance of game came and went to Josh Gregory, whose long range shot was easily stopped by Elliott.

Abrams AshtonPrice & Price Building Ltd & Lincoln House ChambersMOTM: Andy Teague

Twitter fans’ poll MOTM: Jason Walker

Match stats

Chorley (4-3-3): Urwin; Challoner, Anson, Teague (c) (Lightfoot, 78’), Molyneux; Cottrell, Wilson, Whitham; Walker (Gregory, 63’), Carver (Darr, 84’), Newby. Subs not used: Burgess, O’Keefe.

Alfreton (4-1-4-1): Elliott; Topliss, Shiels (Johnson, 53’), Beevers, Allan; Disley (c) (Baxendale, 77’); Marshall, Platt, Everington, Jennings; Bell. Subs not used: Johannson, Sharp.

HT 0-0 /FT 1-0

Goal scorersWalker (52’)

Bookings: Platt (63’), Allan (69’)

Red Cards: None

Attendance: 1,053

Referee: James Bell

Assistants: Scott Taylor & Daniel Jarvis

Next Up

The play-off qualifying round tie against Stockport County. Kick-off at Edgeley Park is slated for Wednesday evening at 7.45pm.

The game is ALL TICKET and tickets will go on sale from Monday morning priced £15 adults, £10 over-65s, disabled people & students, £5 6-to-17-year-olds & FREE for under-6s.

Supporter coaches will leave Victory Park at 5.15pm, with seats costing £7.

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Next @ Victory Park

Spennymoor Town
Saturday November 3
National League North


Tuesday November 6
LFA Challenge Trophy


On Our Travels

Stockport County
Tuesday October 30
National League North