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Blyth Spartans 3 Chorley 1
1:31pm Monday 27th January 2014 in Chorley FC
TITLE-CHASING Chorley came unstuck for the first time on the travels since mid-September against a spirited Blyth Spartans’ side in a game which was effectively decided by two goals in two minutes immediately before half-time.
Blyth had been outpointed for most of the first half and Chorley led thanks to an own goal in the 20th minute but the break came just too late for the Magpies who manager Garry Flitcroft said were ‘mugged’ at a crucial time.
The match survived a late pitch-inspection following a downpour and Chorley had the hosts on the back foot before taking the lead.
Paul Jarvis’s free-kick reached Andy Teague on the far side of the penalty area and his low centre was turned into his own net by Shaun Utterson two yards out, with the unmarked Josh Hine waiting to apply the finish had he not intervened.
Then as Chorley sought a second, Jack Dorney teed up Dale Whitham for a stinging 20-yards’ drive which Conor Grant saved at full-stretch.
Blyth had posed little threat up front until equalising on 44 minutes.
Ex-Hibernian recruit Lewis Horner sent Dan Maguire clear with a clever pass and the prolific striker skipped past Keil O’Brien to finish neatly.
Moments later O’Brien conceded a free-kick just outside the box and Neal Hooks chipped a fine shot into the top corner, with Sam Ashton apparently badly positioned to save.
Magpies’ skipper Teague was withdrawn at the break owing to a groin strain and Chorley missed his steadying influence, Blyth increasingly controlling the game as the visitors failed to recapture their early sparkle.
But Grant did pull off a crucial save to prevent the Magpies from equalising.
Dorney stole into the penalty area and slid the ball across the face of the goal to Hine whose far-post finishing touch was brilliantly blocked by Grant.
Spartans finally secured the points seven minutes from time when centre-back Danny Parker headed a fine goal from a corner.
“I thought we were outstanding first half,” said Flitcroft.
“But those were killer goals coming when they did. This is a tough place to come and Blyth are a decent side but we’ll keep our heads up and aim to get back on track at home to Stamford next Saturday.”
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