Chorley 3 Stamford 0

Garry Flitcroft’s championship-chasing Chorley delighted their boss and home fans in another remarkable Victory Park crowd of 875 by surging to the top of the league with an eye-catchingly efficient performance on an energy-sapping pitch.

Stamford fought gallantly to the finish but ultimately the Magpies’ greater physical presence and sheer will-to-win in at times atrocious weather conditions proved decisive.

Latest signing from Southport Chris Almond made a very pleasing debut and contributed significantly to Chorley’s second goal which effectively sealed victory. Stamford keeper Alex Lynch had kept his side in the game in a busy first half.

He athletically turned over a teasing 25-yards’ free-kick from Kieran Walmsley and then plunged late to scoop out a Jack Dorney header creeping inside the post.

Almond spurned a clear chance, firing just over the bar from eight yards before Chorley went ahead on 37 minutes when Daniel Lawlor headed an inswinging corner into his own net past a startled Lynch.

Only then on 40 minutes did Stamford muster a real shot, leading marksman Ryan Robbins miscuing badly wide after working himself an opening.

The Magpies were close to doubling their lead soon after the interval, only a goal-line clearance denying Jake Cottrell following a searching centre from James Dean.

But with the elements at their backs Stamford began to force the pace and won a series of unproductive corners.

However, from a clearance of one of these, Chorley broke quickly to add a vital second goal on 63 minutes.

Almond’s penetrating run set up Cottrell who was upended inside the box, Dean firing fiercely into the roof of the net from the spot.

The Magpies should have had a third when Dean fired wide but the hardworking striker wrapped up the three points five minutes from time when he bundled home at the far past after some excellent work from centre back Mark Ross who overlapped down the right and whipped in a deep cross.

Sam Ashton denied Stamford a late consolation with a smart diving save to achieve yet another ‘clean-sheet’ and the buoyant Magpies are now two points clear at the top with at least two games in hand on the chasing pack.