Another Late County Goal? Chorley Not!
The Hatters secured a point deep into stoppage time for the second Saturday running, as a 93rd-minute equaliser from Jason Oswell cancelled out a controversial opening goal at Edgeley Park that had looked set to see the ‘Magpies’ of Chorley winging it back to Lancashire victorious.
And, just like Jimmy Ball’s late, late strike that had earned a share of the spoils against Boston a week previously, the crucial County attempt took the form of a header following a cross from the left – with Matty Warburton assuming the role played by Scott Duxbury at York Street, to pick out Oswell for the leading scorer’s 16th goal of the season.
County had taken the field on a grey mid-November afternoon in SK3 with an unchanged 11 from that which had started at Boston – albeit, to begin with, in a tweaked 3-4-1-2 formation.
An even first half witnessed a sprinkling of chances at each end – beginning with two early Bohan Dixon efforts from the edge of the area that fizzed past, successively, the right and left uprights, before the Magpies, on 12 minutes, were presented with the contest’s first clear-cut opportunity, which Jason Walker fired over at the Cheadle End when through on goal.
Warburton curled a free kick from distance around the right post – and Oswell then went closer still after he connected with Duxbury’s in-swinging corner from the right, but visiting goalkeeper Matt Urwin kept the header out.
The Hatters had neither ever beaten the Magpies, nor even taken the lead against them, at EP, although momentarily thought the latter demon had been exorcised after 34 minutes when Oswell headed in Duxbury’s cross from the left – only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
With the interval approaching, Chorley’s season-long loanee from Fleetwood, Nick Haughton, after being fouled 25 yards out, himself sent the ensuing free kick wide of County’s left upright.
HALF-TIME: County 0, Chorley 0.
The Magpies sounded an early declaration of second-half intent as they forced three corners in as many minutes shortly after the re-start – with the middle one being earned after Ben Hinchliffe had done well to parry behind Adam Blakeman’s 25-yard piledriver.
Hinchliffe was also on hand (as it were) to punch out another Haughton free kick – on this occasion, from the edge of County’s ‘D’ – and visiting captain Andy Teague shot narrowly past the right post, before County’s Number One saved from Matty Hughes and Marcus Carver in quick succession, and, with 15 minutes left, tipped over a header by Josh O’Keefe.
County attacks were by now at a premium, although Dixon had fired just wide of the left post after a rare break and former Magpie Darren Stephenson was to drill a shot beyond the opposite upright following his introduction as a substitute around the hour-mark.
After 82 minutes, a run by Duxbury into the Chorley half saw him collide with Josh Wilson. But while the Hatters anticipated the award of a free kick in their favour, Referee Speedie granted one to the visitors – which Chorley took quickly, playing through Haughton who weaved into the County area to slot past Hinchliffe.
Any chance of a ‘Boston repeat’ appeared to die as only two – rather than five – minutes of added time were announced, and a Warburton cross from the left found the head of the previous weekend’s hero, Ball, but was intercepted by Urwin.
But in the closing moments, the County Faithful were reminded of the need never to leave early, as Warburton delivered again for Oswell to power home a bullet of a header and salvage the draw.
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Oswell, 90 + 3), Chorley 1 (Haughton, 82).
Team: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Ball, Clarke (Capt.), O’Halloran, Mantack (Stephenson, 60), Stopforth (McKenna, 84), Oswell, Dixon, Warburton.
Unused Subs: Smalley, Ormson, S Walker.
Booked: Warburton, Ball, Oswell.
Man of the Match: Stopforth.
Attendance: 3,674 (276 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.