Home Wins Against The Magpies Are Chorley Like Buses, As County Go Through!
After going for 119 years until late last month since a home victory over the ‘Magpies’ of Chorley, County not only notched up a second triumph at Edgeley Park against them in just over three weeks – but also did so by a winning scoreline to match that of the corresponding National League North fixture on Halloween Eve.
The Hatters’ latest success, in the Buildbase FA Trophy, against their long-time bogey side was well deserved, courtesy of inaugural conversions by central defensive partners Ash Palmer and Jamie Stott, as well as a second headed goal within four days from Man of the Match Adam Thomas. But they also owed grateful thanks to goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe, who saved a fifth-minute penalty.
County took to the field looking to return to winning ways after a midweek defeat by the odd goal in five at Blyth, and the 4-2-3-1 line-up featured two changes from that game – with Stott and club captain Paul Turnbull handed first starts since recovering from their respective injuries. The two Sams – Minihan and Walker – made way for well-earned rests, but were included on the bench.
Palmer, having already handed the skipper’s armband back to Turnbull, did not enjoy the best of starts to his afternoon, when, with five minutes played, he conceded a penalty after fouling Louis Almond. But despair turned to relief, as Hinchliffe guessed correctly to dive at full stretch to his left and tip behind Adam Blakeman’s well-struck, mid-height spot-kick.
Blakeman looked to make amends as a provider seven minutes later, but his cross from the left was headed over at close range by Josh O’Keefe. And the Hatters, duly let off twice, then proceeded to go on the attack, with Thomas and Elliot Osborne sending respective shots just wide of the right and left posts.
After 18 minutes, they took the lead when their second corner of the afternoon – delivered from Osborne on the left – was bundled in by Palmer for his first competitive goal in a County shirt, to follow up the pre-season header he netted to equalise against Macclesfield four months earlier.
Play continued to be open ahead of half-time – with the end-to-end nature of the game being well illustrated by a sequence that saw Elliot Newby unleash a low shot for Hinchliffe to smother, before Turnbull and then Almond drilled shy of the respective left uprights, and, finally, Palmer connected with another corner (from Duxbury, this time, on the right), but headed over.
HALF-TIME: County 1 (Palmer, 18), Chorley 0.
Chorley created the earliest chances after the break – with substitute Jordan Lussey, on at the re-start for injured ex-Hatter Courtney Meppen-Walter, seeing a low cross from the right deflected off Stott beyond the far post, and Almond firing straight at Hinchliffe from outside the box.
But eight minutes into the second half, the Hatters doubled their advantage – courtesy of another first County goal for a defender from an Osborne corner on the left, as loanee Stott headed home.
And two minutes later, County had a three-goal lead when Scott Duxbury’s cross from the same flank was nodded in by Thomas.
The Magpies had arrived in SK3 in the wake of a seven-goal FA Cup-replay drubbing at Doncaster – and, with half an hour left on the clock, their second knockout-tie in four days looked in possible danger of ending similarly. But ‘keeper Matt Urwin did well to dive and smother a goal-bound shot from the hard-working Frank Mulhern; Osborne and Thomas fired efforts in quick succession over the Cheadle End crossbar; and, with three minutes remaining, Mulhern’s replacement, Nyal Bell, slid in to meet Thomas’ telling cross from the right – only to poke narrowly wide of the far post.
FULL-TIME: County 3 (Palmer, 18; Stott, 53; Thomas, 55), Chorley 0.
Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Keane, Palmer, Stott, Thomas, Turnbull (Capt.) (Walker, 60), Mulhern (Bell, 81), Osborne, Warburton (Stephenson, 67).
Unused Subs: Minihan, Ormson.
Man of the Match: Thomas.
Attendance: 1,245 (98 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.