Apparently, County had not beaten Chorley since late in the nineteenth century before today.
To be fair we haven`t played them much either, but that thought apart the wait was well worth it as James Gannon`s side ran out convincing winners in front of a bumper crowd at the Lancashire sides Victory Park stadium, against a side unbeaten in nine consecutive league games prior to today.
The margin of victory might have been narrow at 1-0, but that hardly reflected how it was on the park where County looked a class apart from their opponents for long periods of a game that was in danger of being ruined by a multitude of free kicks.
Unsurprisingly perhaps County`s goal came via Danny Lloyd, but Cartwright had the ball in the net earlier and if that had stood, as it should have, I would have been writing about a 2-0 win, a score line more in keeping with events on the field. I am still nonplussed as to why the goal was ruled out, but it was, and try as they might, Chorley could not capitalise on their good fortune.
Late on they did create a chance or two but found the County defence resolute to a man , none more so than keeper Hinchliffe who pulled off a truly excellent save in the games dying embers , to add to his considerable assist for the County goal.
This was a magnificent team effort from County.
The whole back line shone brilliantly throughout, reducing a decent Chorley side to resorting to mean fouls at times, but I gave Michael Clarke my M.O.M gong for 90 odd minutes of concerted excellence.
If the back four were top performers, the mid field were not far behind them. Montrose was energy personified whilst taking more foul challenges from opponents than most receive in a season, whilst alongside Montrose we had Stopforth and Minihan, and their contribution to proceedings was immense?their abundance of cool assurance shone through like a beacon pushing their colleagues on to more and better deeds.
Up front County had the inimitable Danny Lloyd whose usual all action game was capped nicely with a finish to die for.
If Lloyd did well there was also good things to say about new boy James Hooper who showed his FL skills to good effect a time or two. Amis worked really hard for little reward, largely due to the input of Scott Leather who spent much of the game climbing all over him.
His time will come!
There was one change in County`s starting line up at 3 o`clock?..with new boy Hooper coming in for an early County debut at the expense of Jimmy Ball. With ex Hatter Kieren Charnock a late replacement for Chorley there was much interest abroad in a large County contingent as the game got underway, with County attacking the away end.
Meanwhile?..Minihan was making good progress down the right and a couple of throws from him and Ross put the home side under pressure. Nothing came from either, but a run to the by-line by Hooper offered much and more as his pass inside picked out Lloyd, but Danny was soon chewing mud courtesy of Steve Jordan who had forced him down with the County man eyeing up a shot.
I wanted a penalty?. Mr Gibbons did not, and with the near side liner`s flag was tucked away somewhere?.. that was that.
Already County looked a better bet than did Chorley, who appeared eager to by-pass mid field at the earliest opportunity, lumping the ball high and long when circumstance offered itself.
This approach was designed to test the likes of Clarke and Smalley to the full, but the first 6 minutes or so passed with no sign of this occurring. Clarke even found time to get forward, like he does, but his header, on 7 minutes, flew wide after an Amis run had garnered a free kick for County.
Both teams probed the other for the next 5 minutes or so, each conceding more free kicks than they might reasonably deem acceptable normally. One such offered County another half chance only for Amis to direct his header wide.
Hooper and Stopforth were next to show for County, but their progress was ultimately halted by the intervention of ex Hatter Kieren Charnock whose quick actions and beefy up field clearance sorted a potentially difficult moment for the Magpies.
After this, County were put briefly under pressure via a couple of free kicks – a brave headed clearance from Smalley sorted one, and good work from Clarke the other, and things got immediately better as Montrose and Minihan combined to fix Lloyd up with a break from deep.
Minihan re-joined Lloyd at the sharp end, and was unlucky to see Matt Challoner in position to head his cros clear.
County were looking sharp and energetic both in forward positions and at the back, but with another ex Hatter in Chorley`s line up, Sefton Gonzales , they did have to watch their step somewhat?at least that was what I thought.
Well?Gonzales did well ,20 minutes in, setting Cottrell up with a rare chance to run at County, but when the winger obliged by planting a neat cross under the posts, Sefton fluffed his lines and headed wide. He fared no better moments later when Blakeman`s cross headed in his direction, losing out to the speedy Hinchliffe who beat him to the ball ?..punching clear with authority.
County soon reversed matters as a neat cooperation twixt Hooper and Stopforth once more opened up the home defence, however briefly. Chorley survived the raid without conceding, but it was close, and closer still less than a minute later as Jordan hurried an effort from Lloyd out with a goal looking very much on.
For Chorley ?Walker made some ground down the right, but then wasted the chance to create something by spraying the poorest of crosses wastefully across the box without a black/white striped shirt in sight.
Blakeman did manage to record the first shot at goal from either side, though but this thudded into the advertising hoardings some yards wide of Hinchliffe`s goal, so the home side needed to up their game if they were to prevent this lively County outfit from severely damaging their prized unbeaten run.
Back came County in a flurry of concerted attacking play and Jarvis just did enough to ensure that Minihan headed over the bar on the end of yet another free kick.
It was getting boring?Amis would set himself up to involve himself in a County move, then Leather would haul him down before falling in a heap himself thus duping the referee.
Amis narrowly failed to reach Lloyd`s cross, on the half hour, and Jarvis was again in the right position precisely at the right moment to stop any further damage.
The problem for Jarvis and his team however was that he had to concede a corner to do this and from it an enormous melee and what looked like the opening goal followed.
Cartwright was another man in the right spot just at the correct moment and his strike, when the ball came out to him off a defender, was true and smashed into the back of the net to send County`s following into raptures!
It was 1-0 ?and then it wasn`t as the referee cancelled the goal.
I am told he blew before the shot for a foul that I did not see I must say, but the salient fact was he was the boss so 0-0 it stayed!
Cotterell for Chorley and Lloyd for County both saw decent runs halted at the death by good defending, and Cotterell fancied his chances shortly after on the end of the umpteenth long/high one aimed from deep by Ashton or one of his colleagues. Cottrell did get a header in, but Hinchliffe was coolness personified in dealing with it!
That was about as good as it got for Cottrell, as he went into Mr Gibbons book not long after for attempting to start WW3 with the crudest of assaults on the now mightily bruised Montrose.
Nothing came from the free kick, but Lloyd did go close ,with 5 minutes of the half left, and for Chorley, Charnock made a wakes of a decent chance clearing the bar when a yard or so out.
There was just time for Minihan to win a corner, and for Jordan to head clear and that was the first half put to bed!
The first five minutes of the second half saw both teams having a go , but without success, Amis`s was the best effort in this period but Ashton was on his metal and just kept the young forward`s effort out at the last gasp.
Undeterred?..Amis went at it again sending Minihan on a run down the right. The cross from Sam was a tad heavy but Lloyd was able to usher it back inside from beyond the back post. Chance on again then?.but Amis lifted the ball over the bar and it was gone.
The next County move started with Hinchliffe moving via Stopforth to Minihan . The composure of this outfield duo was really impressive, and the corner that followed was hardly adequate reward for their efforts.
It again looked interesting from a County stand point when the kick came over, as the keeper flapped prodigiously at it depositing the ball pretty much in Minihan`s lap, but he dragged his shot wide of goal ,and Chorley had escaped again.
County were stepping it up a touch now and Hooper was unlucky to see Ashton save his first time effort on the end of a Lloyd pass. Lloyd was a constant nuisance to Chorley and Leather looked away from his `duff Amis up duties` to sort the County wide man.
His foul however saw him in the book and not long after he was substituted by a manager anxious I guess to avoid a red card.
It was pretty much all County now, and I was apoplectic ( briefly honest!) to see Hooper upended . I and others saw this happen inside the box, if perilously close to being outside, but the referee did not and gave us a free kick.
What came next?
Well?.I am thinking you can all guess?.the kick came over?Amis went for it?and ?yes?. he was penalised for `pushing`.
Amis must have felt as badly about that one as I did, and his verbals saw him in the book- a needless booking!
Credit to young Josh?he continued to put himself about and was only just beaten to Hinchliffe`s long ball by Ashton not long after.
Jimmy Ball came on for James Hooper with around 20 minutes left to play, as County continued to feed on solid defensive work particularly from Clarke who was winning everything in the air.
Clarke had just repelled one attack from Chorley when another was mounted and halted by Hinchliffe. End of then?.except no?..the County keeper launched it long toward Lloyd who had Challinor for company wide left.
There was much to do, and it was all so very very missable, but Lloyd drew the keeper before sending the ball slowly and surely beyond him into the net. That was a neat finish and the celebrations started around me as thoughts of a win, thought improbable in some quarters, now looked on.
Not long after, Lloyd was thwarted by Ashton as Minihan pinged over a cross from the right, whilst Gonzales, for the Magpies, could only head over the bar after good work from Walker had set him up
Into the last 10 minutes and JG made a double switch?.bringing Meppen-Walter and Odejayi on for Lloyd and Amis.
Minihan and Stopforth were still in gear and keeping things moving alongside Montrose ,and with Ball now in the mix some rather neat football ensued from County, although I felt the Ball`s momentary inclination to start playing `keep ball` near the corner flag a tad previous!
That said Ball then went on to bounce a shot off the bar with Ashton nowhere, so what do I know!
County pushed on now and Ashton did well to keep Meppen-Walter`s strike out almost dead on 90 minutes.
Into added time and Chorley`s attacking moves more and more had the appearance of desperation about them. Having said that, Roscoe nearly made us pay with a tasty header that was going in before Hinchliffe`s dive saw him twist in mid air and tip the ball over the bar.
That was simply great from Hinchliffe and more followed from others in County away grey as Chorley desperately tried to square this un-squarable circle!
Soon enough it was game over and the points were ours.
Make no mistake?..this was an excellent win?a win against the odds, against a team on top form.
Well done all?..it sets us up nicely for another toughy on Saturday against Kidderminster at Edgeley Park. With home advantage we can sort that one too!
See you there then!
Oh?..and for the next two weeks this report will be published on Sunday morning after the Saturday games. Thanks for reading this.
[ Great photo’s including a nive arial shot of the ground can be found here! ]
Chorley line up:
Ashton, Challinor, Jarvis( Beesley 82), Charnock, Leather( Carver 62), Jordan, Blakeman( Roscoe 90), Whitham, Gonzales, Walker, Cottrell.
Subs not used: Azam, O`Keefe.
Stockport County line up;
Hinchliffe, Ross, Clarke, Smalley, Cartwright, Montrose, Minhan, Stopforth, Amis( Odejayi 82), Hooper( Ball 69), Lloyd( Meppen-Walter 82).
Subs not used: Ormson, Marsden.
Attendance : 2464
Chorley 0 County 1
Apparently, County had not beaten Chorley since late in the nineteenth century before today.