Three For Sorrow, As County Downed By Another Set Of Magpies
County’s three-match winning run came to an end at Victory Park, as two first-half goals from former Wrexham striker Chris Holroyd and an added-time strike by substitute Elliot Newby saw struggling Chorley earn all three points.
It was only a third defeat of the campaign for the Hatters, but a second against a team of ‘Magpies’ – following County’s opening-day reverse at home to Maidenhead United.
Striker Joe Piggott had arrived at Edgeley Park during the week, and, with timing that report writers love, how appropriate it was that the loanee from Wigan Athletic should do so with a view to featuring in the fixture that, this season, is the nearest (by just under five miles, ahead of Chesterfield) that the Hatters have to a ‘derby’.
The surnamesake of flat racing’s ‘Long Fellow’ went straight into the starting 11, which featured one other change from the side that had taken to the field at EP against Fylde four days earlier – with Paul Turnbull, having recovered from a hamstring problem, returning to skipper the side. Festus Arthur and Nyal Bell – both included on the bench – were the players to make way.
Chorley, meanwhile, included two former Hatters – Lewis Baines and Courtney Meppen-Walters – in defence, and another defender once of the SK3 parish, Mark Ross, among their substitutes.
Piggott seized on an early half-chance, following a misplaced header across the home area from Meppen-Walters – but nodded under pressure straight into the arms of goalkeeper Billy Crellin.
Then, moments later, Holroyd was handed a rather more gilt-edged opportunity, following a mix-up in the County defence. The Magpies’ first signing of the summer duly slotted past Ben Hinchliffe from 10 yards to give his side the lead with just six minutes played.
Chorley remained confident in attack, belying the look of a team that had yet to win its first match of the campaign. And 20 minutes after going ahead, the advantage – and Holroyd’s personal tally – doubled, when the striker connected with Matt Challoner’s low cross from the right to drill home.
Andy Teague and Marcus Carver, who had both netted in the course of County’s last visit to Victory Park just under five months previously, combined to good effect around the half-hour mark – with the latter narrowly heading over his captain’s lofted delivery from the right.
And that pretty much was that – with the Hatters going in at the break trailing by the same score as that which they had ultimately suffered after 90 minutes on Easter Saturday earlier in the year.
HALF-TIME: Chorley 2 (Holroyd, 6 and 26), County 0.
The Hatters introduced Bell upon the resumption, as they sought to enhance their threat up front – although some 20 minutes of the second half had gone by before a chance of note materialised in either final third.
When one was created, it fell to the County substitute – whose header from a Sam Minihan cross on the right was held by Crellin. And shortly afterwards, Elliot Osborne nodded shy of the far upright, following an Adam Thomas delivery from the same flank.
Baines came within a whisker of haunting the club he had served as a loanee from Fleetwood in 2018/19, when he headed Challoner’s chip narrowly wide of the right post – before Osborne stung Crellin’s hands with an angled shot from the right at the other end.
With seven minutes remaining, Holroyd looked for all the world to be set for his hat-trick, after latching on to Ash Palmer’s sliced clearance – but the striker was denied at close range by Hinchliffe. And the Magpies again went close when Carver’s dinked effort from the left bounced off the County crossbar.
During six minutes of added time, Piggott headed a Thomas cross from the right on to the top of the net, and Hinchliffe smothered Newby’s low drive from the edge of the box – before Newby, who had replaced Holroyd only seven minutes earlier, beat County’s Number One with a second, similar effort in the dying stages.
FULL-TIME: Chorley 3 (Holroyd, 6 and 26; E Newby, 90 + 4), County 0.
Team (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Cowan, Palmer, Keane; Minihan (Curran, 74), Turnbull (Capt.), Walker, Jackson (Bell, 46); Osborne (Dimaio, 84); Thomas, Piggott.
Unused Subs: Ormson, Arthur.
Attendance: 2,693 (1,200 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.