Chorley 2 Brackley 1
Garry Flitcroft hailed his side’s ‘outstanding’ battling performance after Chorley pulled off a stirring victory despite playing for more than half the match with ten men.
After the Magpies had taken the lead in the 18th minute, they were rocked by the straight red card shown to full-back Kyle Jacobs for a studs-up challenge in midfield on 38 minutes.
After that the visitors were a transformed side, repeatedly stretching the home defence with intelligent use of the ball and they deservedly equalised midway through the second half, at which point it seemed to be just a question of whether Chorley could hold onto a point. But the Magpies dug in with typical resolution and, though restricted to the odd breakaway raid, produced a strong finish in the closing stages.
And with just five minutes to go, they poached the winner.
The home goal survived a very early scare, Gary Mulligan dragging his shot fractionally wide when clean through.
But Chorley were soon calling the shots and in the 18th minute James Dean was tripped as he charged into the penalty area. Dean Snedker pulled off a brilliant diving save to parry Dean’s powerful penalty but the striker seized on the loose ball to score.
However, the Magpies could not find a second goal, and when Brackley began to take advantage of the extra man, Mulligan appeared unlucky to have a cleverly-headed goal ruled offside.
Home keeper Sam Ashton denied Dwayne Samuels with a stunning reflex save at close range soon after the interval and as Brackley dominated striker Ryan Rowe held his head in his hands when his measured lob beyond a stranded Ashton landed wide of the empty net.
An equaliser looked inevitable and arrived on 70 minutes when, following an under-powered goal-kick by Ashton, Mitchell Austin strode past two challenges to score comfortably.
But with time running out Chorley won a rare corner and from Adam Mather’s deep cross Andy Teague headed back across the goalmouth for Tom Smyth to plant a firm header past Snedker to the delight of home fans in another excellent crowd of 917.
“Some of our play in the first half was brilliant,” said Flitcroft, “And when we were down to 10 men the lads worked very, very hard. We deserved the win.”