A thrilling injury-time equaliser from Henry Cowans kept the
Bucks beaten home record intact and denied Chorley victory, although the
Magpies remained top of the table and extended their unbeaten league record to 12
Bucks manager Gavin Cowan made two team changes, starting
Zak Lilly alongside Shane Sutton and Theo Streete in what amounted to a back
five, with Darryl Knights restored to the starting line-up too. Missing out
from the team defeated at Warrington Town in the FA Cup were James McQuilkin
and Amari Morgan-Smith.
Despite windy conditions and with some standing water on the
pitch, neither side started as cautiously as might have been expected. The
visitors were the first to test the opposing keeper; Max Bramley had to stand
up and beat away an Adam Blakeman shot that seemed to change direction in the
air, with the Bucks scrambling away Chorley’s follow-up attempts. Bramley then
saved from former Buck Elliot Newby, who had broken into the penalty area on
The Bucks responded through Daniel Udoh, with the top scorer
bringing a low save at his near post from another ex-Buck, Matt Urwin. They
went closer still approaching the half-way point of the half, when Steph
Morley’s superb cross from the left invited a finish, first from Udoh, then
Ross White at the far post; however, neither could apply the touch needed.
That preceded the game’s biggest talking point; on 25
minutes, Udoh got behind the Chorley defence, receiving a ball into the right
channel, and was hauled back by Matt Challoner. Udoh still had work to do, but
given his pace it seemed reasonable to think he would at least take the ball on
and shoot at goal. Referee Scott Simpson thought otherwise, perhaps feeling
that Jake Cottrell might have barred Udoh’s path to goal, and as a result
Challoner was cautioned, rather than dismissed. The Bucks struck the two-man
defensive wall from the free-kick that followed, and the chance was gone.
The Bucks were getting the upper hand, and home fans were
further frustrated when the referee penalised them for a foul on Urwin, the
keeper appearing simply to mishandle when catching a free-kick. Urwin then
collided with Udoh after the forward got between him and Andy Teague, the
Chorley captain, although it looked a 50/50 ball which both were entitled to go
for, Udoh simply coming off worst.
The half ended with Udoh landing a tame header in Urwin’s
grasp, Teague shooting over from 25 yards when making progress upfield, and
with John McAtee being challenged just as he was about to pull the trigger,
having evaded a couple of challenges running centrally at goal.
HALF TIME: AFC Telford United 0 Chorley 0
The home side picked up where they left off after the break,
looking busy and determined but without seriously testing Urwin in the Chorley
goal. McAtee guided a header wide of the keeper’s left post from a Knights cross,
then Knights himself stretched to meet a ball in from the right, but got underneath
it and put his effort too high and wide to the same side of goal.
Former Bucks’ favourite Elliot Newby had a moment to forget
on 58 minutes; from a free-kick on the left edge of the penalty area, Blakeman
foxed the Bucks by rolling the ball back to Newby in the ‘D’, however he
perhaps timed his run a little late, got underneath the ball and succeeded only
in clearing the stadium roof.
Just after the hour, Jamie Vermiglio made two substitutions,
clearly designed to push for the victory. Alex Newby and Louis Almond replaced
the largely ineffective Marcus Carver and Dale Whitham, and the two, but Almond
particularly, quickly set about their task.
On 70 minutes, a corner won by Elliot Newby saw Blakeman’s
delivery met by Teague at the far post. His header back across goal looked as
though it would curl inside the post, only for Ellis Deeney to clear off the line.
That signalled Chorley to push harder, their belief heightened. Courtney
Meppen-Walter might have done better, failing to get off the ground when a leap
may have seen him connect with a free-kick to the far post, the giant centre-back
unmarked. Almond then exchanged passes with Newby on the left edge of the box
and bent his shot just wide of the far post, Bramley beaten by the effort.
Just as it looked as though the game was destined to in stalemate,
Chorley hit the front, and much to the chagrin of home fans who’d riled him throughout
the afternoon it was former Buck Josh Wilson who scored. Almond again did well
on the left, and his fine cross was met by Wilson 10 yards out, his head
glancing the ball into the top corner at speed.
It looked to be the decisive blow; a battling and
industrious Bucks showing ruined by a returning former player? Fans the world
over have read this script before. However, the Bucks wouldn’t accept it as
their fate. With Adam Dawson and Amari Morgan-Smith joining the fray they summoned
their efforts for one last push. Ross White put an effort over the bar as the
Bucks packed the Chorley area, then Steph Morley put a left-footed effort wide
as Chorley failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Cowan’s final roll of the dice was to withdraw White for Henry
Cowans, and the willowy midfielder had an almost immediate impact. The Bucks
were being held on the edge of the Chorley penalty area, but when Challoner
rushed out to Morley the full-back poked the ball past him to Udoh. The Magpies
flew towards the forward, leaving space behind them for Cowans on the 18-yard
line, and when Udoh found him with a pass he took a touch before driving a delicious
right-footed finish past Urwin to his left. The keeper got a hand on it, but
wasn’t stopping it, and the New Buck’s Head greeted the moment with delirium.
Seconds after the restart the game ended, signalling just how close the Bucks
had come to leaving the game empty-handed.Chorley: Urwin, Challenor, Blakeman, Teague, Leather,
Meppen-Walter, Cottrell, Whitham (A.Newby 66), Carver (Almond 63), Wilson,
Unused substitutes: Glynn, Anson, Jordan.
Scorers: Wilson (83).