Magpies show their Steel

Chorley Citizen: Garry Flitcroft's Chorley drew Garry Flitcroft's Chorley drew

Stocksbridge Park Steels 2 Chorley 2 

A stuttering first-half display against lowly Stocksbridge cost Chorley ground in the NPL Premier Division title-race and it could have been worse if the home side had not missed a penalty when already two up.

In the end, however, the Magpies almost grabbed all three points after totally dominating the last half-hour in which they pulled two goals back and were denied only by a string of fine saves by keeper Jack Ward.

With a stiff wind behind them, Steels caused an unusually uncertain Chorley defence all sorts of problems in the first half.

New signing Brad Grayson capitalised on the Magpies’ failure to clear a right-wing centre to prod Steels into the lead on 11 minutes and Danny South doubled the lead on the half-hour, bundling another cross from the right past Sam Ashton as defenders hesitated once again. Chorley were offering little at the other end and Nathan Joynes was close to a third for Steels with a firm header which flew just over the bar.

The crucial penalty-miss came on 56 minutes, South blazing well wide after Andy Teague was penalised for handball, and the Magpies celebrated the let-off by taking control of the game.

Paul Jarvis reduced the arrears on the hour with a deflected drive and Ward made a brilliant full-length save from a Dale Whitham scorcher before Keil O’Brien popped up with the equaliser in the 67th minute from an Adam Mather corner.

As Chorley turned up the heat, Teague headed a Mather free-kick over the advancing Ward but also just over the bar and then the visitors were denied what looked a clear penalty when James Dean was barged over as he burst into the box. Ward later again distinguished himself with a save from a Mather free-kick.

The introduction of the strong-running Darren Stephenson gave Chorley an extra edge and should have produced a stoppage-time winner.

Stephenson raced to the byline and pulled the ball back for Josh Hine to apply the finishing touch but the striker, to his obvious dismay, saw his first-time shot clear the bar.

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