Chorley FC

Chorley vs AFC Telford United, Vanarama National League North, 30/04/16, Victory Park, Match 36

As I stated in my AFC Telford blog, I had been planning to attend this match for a while. It felt right being at Chorley’s last match of the season, seeing as how I had been at Chorley’s first match of the season. Also attending today’s match with me would be my wife and children, they’d been there at the first game of the season as well. As mentioned in the AFC Telford blog, this match was to take place only a month after Chorley played Telford at the Buck’s Head. I’ve always been used to teams playing each other once before Christmas and then again in the New Year, giving a couple of months rest between the games. But this was to be an exception to the rule, and the defeat that Chorley suffered when they played Telford in March must have been fresh in their minds.

In my blog about Chorley’s first league game, against Nuneaton Town, I mentioned how the roof on the Duke Street End had been removed, and it wasn’t replaced until December 2015. Today would be my first time seeing the new roof, and whilst I had seen photos on Facebook of the new roof, nothing beats seeing things in person.

As well as the new roof, Chorley FC have had more good news recently, as the council have started negotiations on a number of land swaps, which would see the council take control of Victory Park, with current owners, Northern Trust, taking land elsewhere. If the council were able to take control of Victory Park it would mean that the club would have greater control of the ground, which would be fantastic, anyway read more here: Here.

One of the best things about living in Chorley, is that it is now only a short walk for me to get to Victory Park, as I only have to walk down Pall Mall, and onto Duke Street to get to the ground. All in all the walk takes about 10 minutes, which is great. Before the match I decided to head into the club shop as I had noticed on the Chorley FC website that they were holding a sale on the old kit, and I picked up the green away shirt and the pink “fans” away shirt for £10 each, bargain!

Before we headed into the ground, I parted with £2.50 for a programme. With the programme in my hand, we headed to the turnstiles where a kind steward directed us to the “Victory Park” gates, which was easier than trying to get a pram through the turnstiles. It cost £20 for my wife and I to get into the game, £10 each, which at this level is good value.

With there being about twenty minutes before kickoff, we decided to keep the kids entertained by taking a walk around the pitch. We didn’t get far, as when we passed the Main Stand we noticed a mini match going on on the pitch, between two teams of kids, one in red and one in blue. Both sides played some good football, but it was to be the team in red that emerged victorious in a match that ended 2-1. Both of the red team goals were good goals, and both sides did themselves proud.

As we walked past the Piling Road End, where the AFC Telford fans had gathered, I noticed that they had a number of flags with them, one of which declared them “The Pride of Shropshire.” Now as a Shrewsbury Town fan, I would like to dispute that on two points, 1) We are in League One, we’re in a much higher league, and 2) We’re the current holders of the Shropshire Senior Cup. Obviously that makes us, Shrewsbury Town, the Pride of Shropshire. (This is written in good humour, don’t get offended)

With Chorley attacking the Duke Street End, we decided to go and stand under the new roof. The pram did take a bit of lifting to get into a good position, but we were able to find a spot where I could see the game, and my daughter could run around. My son did me proud as he sat in his pram and watched the game with interest.

Putting it nicely, this game was a dead rubber, there wasn’t anything to be won or lost in this game, with neither side going to make the playoffs, and neither side at threat of relegation. I did however have my eye on the BBC Sport app on my phone, as Shrewsbury Town were playing Peterborough, and a win would see them save from relegation, although it was also possible for us to escape relegation as long as Doncaster didn’t win at Crewe, but I’ve never liked relying on other teams.

Chorley started the half well, and they created plenty of attacking chances down the left wing, with the Magpies being unlucky in front of goal. Telford on the other hand did look like they were struggling to get started, in all fairness.

The scoring was opened in the 22nd minute, as Mark Ross hit a low cross into the box, Darren Stephenson met the ball at the far post, and he slotted the ball past the Telford keeper.

The goal seemed to wake the Telford side up, and the game began to become a more even affair with both sides having chances to increase the scoring. However neither side seemed to be having much luck in front of goal.

In the 41st minute Chorley won a corner, and the ball reached the feet of Courtney Meppen-Walter, but unfortunately the Telford number 3, Kyle Brownhill got himself in the way, and the ball was cleared. Brownhill looked to have hurt himself in the challenge, and it took him a while to hobble off of the pitch with the physio’s help. Hopefully it isn’t a serious injury, as I can imagine that the last thing needed before the end of the season is an injury! Brownhill was replaced by number 15, Darren Campion.

Half Time: Chorley 1-0 AFC Telford (Stephenson 22)

Chorley ended the half in the lead, but to be fair it could have been all square, as Telford seemed to have woken up since the first goal, it was going to be interesting to see how the second half went, as it was now just a matter of pride between the two sides.

Unfortunately for me, I had checked my phone to find that Shrewsbury were losing to Peterborough, and Doncaster’s game had kicked off late, and Doncaster were leading, meaning that it would go down to the last game of the season.

At the break we had another walk around the ground to stop the kids from getting restless, but we decided to stay in the Duke Street End, as it offered the best protection from the sun. From the kick off, both sides had goals ruled out for offside within the first five minutes.

Telford made their second change in the 51st minute as their number 6, Curtis Tilt was replaced by their number 12, Reece Simpson.

The AFC Telford fans were in good voice, and seemed to be dealing well with the group of kids that were winding them up about the score, “You’ve got maths on Tuesday.” Was a favourite chart for myself, although I did have to smile when the lads were moved by their mums, “Mummy’s come to get you.”

I have to admit that I was distracted by the Shrews’ relegation battle, as it had got worse against Peterborough as we were now losing 3-0. However Crewe had equalized, which meant that we were safe.

Telford made their final change in the 59th minute, as they replaced their number 11, Graham Hutchinson with their number 14, Jack Rea.

It was around this point that I got hungry, and I headed down to the Magpies’ Nest to get some food, my wife had earlier had a burger (£2.50) and described it as “Worth £2 at most”. When I got into the Nest, I was greeted with the news that they had run out of burgers and hot dog rolls, but were serving hot dogs in burger buns, which made a change, and so for £2.50 I emerged with a glorified sausage bap.

Chorley made their first change of the game in the 67th minute, as Chorley’s number 12, Micah Evans, came on to replace number 9, Jordan Connerton.

Telford’s equalizer seemed inevitable, and it came in the 73rd minute. The Bucks won a free kick on the left hand side of the box, and the ball was delivered into the box, Chorley’s number 3 met the ball and headed it backwards, where it hit the crossbar, and rebounded perfectly for Telford’s number 8, Josh Wilson, to nod home.

We decided to move around the ground, and headed to the Piling Road End, we stood closer to the exit, as it would be easier to make our getaway at the final whistle.

Chorley made a second change in the 85th minute, as number 15, Jack Lynch, came on for number 8, Dale Whitham.

Chorley were pressing forward to get back into the lead, and in the 88th minute they won a penalty, as Darren Stephenson was fouled inside the box. From where I was stood the penalty did look to be a bit soft, and another referee may not have given it. The Telford players did seem to be trying to encourage the linesman to talk to the ref, as the linesman hadn’t flagged for the penalty, but the referee makes the decisions, and Stephenson stepped up to take the penalty. He made no mistake from the spot, and he put Chorley back into the lead.

Final Score: Chorley 2-1 AFC Telford (Stephenson 21, 89 – Wilson 73)

The ref blew his whistle after five minutes of added time, once outside of the ground I checked my phone, and found that Shrewsbury had pulled back from 3-0 down, with the third Salop goal coming in the 90th minute, however ex-Shrew, Jon Taylor was to give Boro all three points as he scored in the 94th minute. With Salop losing, our only hope was for bottom of the table Crewe to beat Doncaster, and to my delight they were 2-1 up.

From Victory Park we walked down to Asda to grab some dinner, and it was just as we were picking up some pizzas, that I saw that Crewe had gone 3-1 up, I should have been happy, but I am a pessimist, and I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate until the final whistle. Once the BBC confirmed that Doncaster had lost, I finally allowed myself to celebrate the fact that Shrewsbury will be playing League One football next year, cementing our place as Shropshire’s top club. (I’m kidding about that, as we all know TNS are the best club in Shropshire, given the fact that they’re the only club in Shropshire that have played Champions League football.)

This has been a productive season for Chorley, with it being Matt Jansen’s first as a manager, hopefully Jansen and the Chorley team can use this as a basis for an even more successful season next year. Chorley have finished the season in 8th, which is a respectable place.

Telford have done well to escape relegation, especially seeing as how they were firmly in the relegation zone at one point. They have a good management duo in Rob Smith and Larry Chambers, and hopefully next season will see them perform better in the league, especially if they start next season in the form they finished this season in. Telford have finished this season in 18th place, and only a point above Lowestoft who, unfortunately, occupied the final relegation zone.

There are still a couple of weeks left in other leagues, especially lower down the pyramid, so this isn’t the final blog of the season. But for the majority of teams in the National League Premier, North and South it is a case of looking back on the season and working on how they’ll improve for next year.

Attendance: 1247

Hat-tricks seen so far: 3 (I’ll do it again, next hat-trick I see I will donate £5 to charity)

Next game: Not sure yet, will either be a North West Counties League game or a West Lancashire League game.

Chorley’s twitter: https://twitter.com/chorleyfc

AFC Telford’s twitter: https://twitter.com/telfordutd

Pictures: My Flickr

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