Four superb goals lit up a pulsating contest to decide third place in the Evo-Stik Premier Division – but the Magpies had to work
much harder than the scoreline suggests.
In the end a classic breakaway goal on 89 minutes settled the nerves of home fans in a splendid crowd of 1,227 – a figure likely to be more than doubled if, as expected, Chorley host FC United in
next Saturday’s play-offs semi-final.
Man-of-the-match Adam Roscoe put Chorley ahead with a stunning ‘Rooney-esque overhead strike on nine minutes that flashed past a motionless John Lamb in the Bradford goal.
But the visitors’ neat approach play was always a threat and Alex Davidson rattled the home bar from 15 yards.
Following a double substitution at the interval, Avenue equalised in the 47th minute when Richard Marshall worked himself an opening and fired past Russ Saunders.
But Magpies regained their lead within three minutes, Roscoe beating Lamb with a cracking snap-shot from 25 yards.
Chorley looked set to double their advantage when Steve Foster picked out the unmarked Ciaran Kilheeney with an inch-perfect centre but Lamb brilliantly tipped his downward header onto the post.
Bradford increasingly stretched the home defence and Saunders raced from his line to pull off a brave block-save from the onrushing Matty James. But with time running out, the Magpies staged a
smart counter-attack – a great ball from Steve Flitcroft sending sub John Cunliffe clear down the left.
He drew Lamb from goal and left Foster to tap-in from close range for his 24th this season.
Chorley must now wait until midweek to find out the result of runners-up Northwich Victoria’s appeal to the FA against their exclusion from the play-offs before their semi-final visitors to Victory
Park can be confirmed. Should Northwich’s appeal be successful, it would be Bradford who return for a re-match and FC United would miss out