Chorley 2 Stafford Rangers 2

A cracking, sometimes fiery contest between two fully committed teams warmed another impressive Victory Park crowd of 1,085. However, their vocal encouragement could not quite conjure a Chorley victory and in the end Rangers were full value for their point against the promotion-chasers.

The Magpies were left to regret their failure to take two golden opportunities which would have turned a one-goal lead into three in the opening twenty minutes and the visitors after equalising twice carried the greater threat in the final third of a rousing game.

Chris Denham wasted a great chance in the first minute, shooting wide when sent clean through on goal but the Magpies’ bright start brought a deserved lead in the 16th minute. Adam Roscoe headed on a free kick and Matt Walwyn raced clear to score with a well-placed low shot. It should have been two-nil a couple of minutes later when Denham was upended but the normally reliable Steve Foster’s tame penalty was comfortably saved by Danny Read.

Stafford took heart from the escape and gradually improved to equalise on 36 minutes, Michael Carr’s 20-yards’ free-kick taking a deflection off the defensive wall and wrong-footing keeper Russ Saunders. But Chorley regained their lead seconds before the break, the lively Walwyn finding the corner of the net from a fine Foster centre.

The visitors’ very positive start to the second half paid a quick dividend with a second equaliser on 52 minutes. Jon Sheldon, whose free-kicks were a constant threat, curled a superb set-piece into the far top corner of the Chorley net, with Saunders clearly thinking the ball was going wide.

A high tempo was maintained by both sides in the search for a winner. Read pulled off a terrific save to tip over a thunderous 15-yards’ drive by Denham but in the later stages Saunders rescued the Magpies with a string of excellent saves, the best of them an athletic leap to turn aside another great delivery by Sheldon destined for the top corner.

Despite dropping two points, Chorley move up to third as a result of Northwich Victoria’s home defeat by Marine.

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