Chorley 5 Nantwich Town 1

League leaders Chorley revived their flagging title hopes with a scintillating show against mid-table Nantwich to record what manager Garry Flitcroft described as ‘a massive win’ in the face of persistent pressure from three championship-chasing rivals.

The Magpies were on-song from the start and, except for a first-half spell when the visitors cancelled out their lead, completely dominated the match, with Jamie Vermiglio creatively outstanding in midfield.

In fact but for the heroics of Nantwich keeper Steve James, and some missed chances, in a one-sided second half the championship-chasers could have scored eight or nine.

Young loan-signing from Fleetwood Town, full-back Max Cartwright, had a dream debut.

After fluffing a clear chance to open the scoring early on, he put Chorley in front on 24 minutes, rifling home the rebound after Andy Teague’s strong shot from a corner had been blocked.

But Town bravely rallied and on 31 minutes centre-back Earl Davis was left unchallenged to sidefoot a corner first-time just inside the near post.

Boosted by the equaliser, Nantwich got a temporary foothold in the game but were undone on the stroke of half-time.

Jack Dorney was upended just inside the box and James Dean scored emphatically from the penalty-spot.

In a rousing second-half, the Nantwich midfield was regularly overrun and two goals in as many minutes effectively wrapped up Chorley’s victory.

A flowing move in the 56th minute released Jake Cottrell down the left and he slid the perfect low centre across the six-yards’ box. Darren Stephenson’s under-hit shot stopped on the goal-line, leaving the lurking Dean to tap it into the net. Moments later, Davis headed a Cartwright free-kick just inside his own post.

James prevented a further goal-feast with athletic saves to turn over the bar fierce drives from Dean and Jack Dorney.

But on 89 minutes, to the delight of home fans in a crowd of 829, Josh Hine, back after a lengthy injury lay-off, was sent clear and coolly stroked the ball beyond James to add gloss to Chorley’s victory with a fifth goal.

Even then, James had to produce more acrobatics to tip over a well-placed Dorney header destined for the top corner of the net as Chorley ran out comfortable winners.