CHORLEY FC 3, KETTERING TOWN 1
manchesterfootball.info’s Tony Bugby completes his ‘Ten Tier Challenge’ which is to watch a match at every level of the pyramid from the Premier League down to North West Counties League, first division south where he kicked off the challenge. Here he visits National League North promotion contenders Chorley FC play Kettering Town.
Two goals from striker Connor Hall and a strike from Willem Tomlinson strengthened Chorley’s hold on third place in National League North to the delight of the home fans in a crowd of 837 at Victory Park.
And the three points leaves Chorley on the coat tails of leaders AFC Fylde and second-placed Brackley.
Chorley, who last season defeated Wigan Athletic, Peterborough United and Derby County en route to the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup before losing 1-0 to Premier League side Wolves, produced a terrific first-half display and ought to have been further ahead than 2-0.
Kettering produced a spirited second half showing and, when Callum Powell halved the deficit with nine minutes left, the outcome was suddenly in the balance.
That was until Tomlinson scored Chorley’s third in the dying embers to extend their impressive tun to only one defeat in 13 league matches.
The defeat leaves Kettering 14th in the table with only one win in their last seven league and cup games.
Hall make the breakthrough in the seventh minute after a costly error by Town goalkeeper Rhys Davies who dropped a looping cross from Adam Blakeman allowing the former Sheffield United trainee to find the net with a diving header from inside the six-yard box.
Former Stalybridge Celtic player Jon Ustabasi almost doubled the lead midway through the half with a near-post flick which Davies parried, and the defence scrambled the ball clear.
Davies, the former Leicester City U21 goalkeeper, atoned for his error with an unbelievable reflex save to turn over Hall’s flicked header from Blakeman’s free kick. It was likened to Gordon Banks’ stop to deny Pele in the 1970 World Cup.
Kettering’s only clear chance of the opening half came when Chris Smith got on the end of a cross from the left, but goalkeeper Matt Urwin blocked the effort from almost point-blank range.
Chorley got the second goal their play deserved after winning a 39th minute penalty for Connor Kennedy’s challenge on Cardwell with Hall firing home from the spot, his eighth goal of the season.
And they ought to have finished the half with a healthier lead as Harry Cardwell burst clear only for his shot to be saved by the legs of Davies.
Then in stoppage time, Chorley had a shout for a second penalty waved away and Willem Tomlinson had a goalbound shot deflected for a corner.
And the frustration in the Kettering team boiled over in stoppage time as two team-mates were involved in an altercation when captain Connor Kennedy struck out at Claudio Ofosu.
Kettering made two changes at the restart and played with more purpose as they bid to get a foothold back in the game. And they were far more of a threat than in their lack-lustre first-period display.
The visitors would have halved the deficit on the hour but for a brilliant save by Urwin low to his right to keep out Gerry McDonagh’s header from Harrison Neal’s free kick.
Kennedy saw another effort from distance dip over the crossbar as Kettering kept battling while Chorley barely mustered a goal attempt in the second period.
Kettering’s efforts were rewarded nine minutes from time when Powell found the bottom corner with a drive from outside the box which went through the hands of the diving Urwin. Suddenly it was game on.
The goal jolted Chorley to life and they sealed victory with their third goal four minutes from time.
Substitute Mace Goodridge broke from midfield, Hall drove into the box and laid off the ball to provide Tomlinson with a simple tap-in, his first goal for the club.