Chorley 2 Lowestoft Town 0: Blues give high-flyers a fright but lose out
- Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images
Little more than 18 months ago, Lowestoft Town began their National League North adventure with a gritty 2-2 draw at Chorley in their first game at this level.
On Saturday, the Trawlerboys returned to Victory Park more experienced, more battle-hardened and possibly more desperate to maintain an unbeaten run which had seen them start to pull clear of the relegation places.
But, unlike the sunny afternoon in August 2014, a last-gasp goal did not earn the Blues a point – instead it confirmed a harsh defeat after more than matching their promotion-chasing rivals for large swathes of the game.
Indeed, as Chorley striker Darren Stephenson lifted the ball over Town goalkeeper Ben Killip to seal the deal, the over-riding feeling among the 913 crowd was one of relief having been given a stern test by the visitors.
On another day, the Trawlerboys could have translated some of their half chances into goals and taken the points. The Blues started the brighter with livewire Jake Reed flashing an early header over the bar from a Ryan Jarvis cross, before just failing to round Chorley 'keeper Sam Ashton after latching on to a Chris Henderson pass.
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This was all inside the first five minutes as the Blues looked to build on two wins and a draw with some decent football, despite the poor state of the pitch.
It took Chorley 26 minutes to create anything of note, but then a three-minute spell almost put the game out of sight.
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An innocuous long ball released the speedy Stephenson and only a fine fingertip stop from Killip diverted his rocket volley over the bar. From the corner, the Blues' marking was poor and Adam Roscoe was left completely free to power home a header from 10 yards out, giving Killip no chance.
As the Blues reeled, Chorley almost repeated the trick a minute later but captain Andy Teague could only clip the bar with a header from an identical corner routine. The home side were not immune to poor defending from corners as Michael Spillane nearly pulled the Blues level on 38 minutes.
He found himself unmarked at the far post from a Ryan Jarvis delivery, but could only volley into the side-netting from a dozen yards.
The Trawlerboys continued to press after the break.
A crossfield pass from Ryan Jarvis released Reed on the right edge of the Chorley box, but the ball would not sit for him to strike on the half volley with only Ashton to beat.
The Blues' leading scorer improvised, but could not flick the ball beyond Ashton as he came out to close down the angle.
Lowestoft huffed and puffed against a rugged Chorley side who looked to utilise Stephenson's pace on the counter-attack.
Their efforts paid off in the dying seconds as Jordan Connerton found space on the left and his ball found Stephenson unmarked 12 yards out to take a touch before lifting the ball over the onrushing Killip to seal all three points.