CLEAN sheet specialists Chorley staged another classic defensive display to prise three precious points away from promotion-chasing rivals Brackley thanks to Dale Whitham's first half winner.

This latest successful shut-out meant that a stunning strike by skipper Whitham just before half-time was enough for an important victory which keeps Matt Jansen’s men in third place in the National League North, level on points with second-in-the-table Kidderminster.

The return from suspension of the experienced Stephen Jordan bolstered the Magpies’ defence and confidence was also boosted by an impeccable display of goalkeeping from Ritchie Branagan, making his debut after signing from Macclesfield Town.

In an even but relatively quiet first half, Chorley created a decent opening on 12 minutes but Marcus Carver, remarkably back on duty so soon after his worrying New Year’s Day injury, fired over.

Branagan was in action at the other end, diving to make a good stop and then boldly punching clear from a Brackley free-kick.

A superb ball-in presented Whitham with a clear chance to put the Magpies ahead but his header sailed wide.

He made amends, however, in some style two minutes before the interval, firing a glorious low drive beyond Laurie Walker to send his side in at half-time in front.

Brackley threw everything at their visitors on the restart but were thwarted repeatedly by a solid Chorley defensive screen and when Branagan was tested he showed considerable composure and a safe pair of hands.

A chance to double the Magpies’ lead fell to Carver on 65 minutes following a spillage by Walker but the Chorley striker lifted his shot over from five yards.

After that it was essentially assured defending which saw Chorley through to the win in the face of persistent Brackley probings.

Branagan hung onto several crosses and shots pumped into the goalmouth, notably denying Lee Ndlovu after he had skipped past three challenges.

But the Magpies resisted defiantly to claim a notable victory.