Chorley suffered a cruel late blow in an enthralling match of high quality which was a tremendous advertisement for non-league football.

The luckless Magpies hit the crossbar three times before a wonder strike from a free-kick three minutes from time settled a thrilling cut-and-thrust encounter, Matthew Tierney’s 35-yards’ bullet giving the Red Rebels three points when, after surviving a second-half siege, they would surely have settled for one.

The excitement never flagged in a pulsating match which was always on a knife-edge.

The elusive John Cunliffe fired wastefully over early on for Chorley from Tom Ince’s inviting centre and then United’s Mike Norton unleashed a fierce dipping shot which Jack Cudworth did well to turn over.

It was Chorley who were creating the more chances. Ince hit a rising drive just too high and Dale Whitham headed over from a well-flighted corner but as United improved it was Norton who struck the first blow on 36 minutes. Seizing on a knock-down from a corner, he drove unerringly through a ruck of players into the bottom corner.

The lead lasted just seven minutes.

Cunliffe completed a mazy run into the box with a strong shot which James Spencer could only parry and Whitham crashed home the loose ball.

United promptly had a lucky escape when the admirable Tom Walker’s floated effort bounced off the bar with the scrambling Spencer relieved to grab the rebound.

Chorley racked up the pressure after the interval and a Whitham header from one of numerous corners was headed off the line with Spencer beaten.

The same player later clipped the United bar with another header from a free-kick.

But it wasn’t all one-way traffic and Cudworth pulled off a top-class diving save to turn aside Matt Wolfenden’s low drive.

Chorley finally looked set for a deserved lead late on but from Steve Flitcroft’s pinpoint centre Adam Roscoe’s six-yards’ header crashed against the bar.

To cap a roller-coaster afternoon, United pouched the points a minute later, Cudworth appearing unsighted as Tierney’s rocket flew past him to the delight of the United contingent in a splendid crowd of 1,130.