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Harriers 0gifChorley FC 0 - Play off S/F 2nd leg (1-2 agg)

Date: 07-05-17 gif Venue: Aggborough gif att: 3407 gif away fans: 342
Harriers fall at the play offs again

gif Report: Phil Lench
The Harriers season came to a premature end in the Aggborough sunshine today when un-fancied Chorley FC overcame a 1-0 deficit, following our win there on Wednesday, to win 2-0 on the day and 2-1 overall.  We know just how Chorley play and paid the price by not being able to combat their strong arm style of play but not helped by an extremely poor referee who failed to clamp down on the treatment being meted out.

We started the game with the same eleven that started at Victory Park with the only change coming on the bench where Darryl Knights replaced Manny Dieseruvwe.  Up front came our first mistake playing Joe Ironside as the lone striker throughout and seeing him have possibly his worst game in a Harriers shirt through no fault of his own having to cope with two men marking him throughout and a lack of service on the floor.  His pace isn't the best either and was shown when Marcus Carver and Jason Walker for the Magpies had pace to burn.

In front of a big crowd it was Chorley that got the game underway but for the first ten minutes it was a very scrappy affair with neither side settling down quickly.  The visitors set their stall out with some strong tackling and the referee spoke to them about it but didn't do anything concrete until Zaine Francis-Angol clipped Walker on the edge of the area and got booked.

The opening goal of the game came somewhat against the run of play even though we weren't doing much with our possession.  A ball over the top fell just in front of Keith Lowe but, with Sam Hornby coming too far out of the area, he hesitated and Carver nipped in between them to tap the ball home.  Ryan Croasdale raced into the area to try and stop it but couldn't get there in time.

It could have been two goals a minute later when their expert free kick taker, Adam Blakeman, hit the underside of the bar after his free kick cleared the wall and then dipped alarmingly before hitting the underside of the bar and then down to just the right side of the goal line from where it bounced back into the field of play and was booted out into touch.

At least we weren't actually losing the game but just merely drawing and we were sure that we would then go on to regain the advantage with a quick response.  But it never came.

Chorley continued with their style of play denying us any freedom to play our way and when we did get through our shooting was weak and ineffectual.  Ironside had the best chance of clawing the game back but he couldn't get any power on his header and it was dealt with easily by Richie Branagan in the visitors goal.

Chorley ended the half the stronger with defender Andy Teague heading over the bar from a corner.
  HT: 0 - 1
The second half was a much better showing by us but those niggling problems were still there and so was the referee.  Still he was failing to clamp down on the shirt pulling and off the ball fouls with Ryan Croasdale getting dumped on his arse twice in the space of a few minutes.  It was right in front of the assistant too but he ignored it.

Our pressure gained a reward within five minutes of the restart when Arthur Gnahoua finally managed to get through the massed Chorley defence and get a shot on target.  Branagan parried it way but only as far as Andre Brown who ran in on the loose ball and fired it home.  Sadly the assistant didn't miss this one and had already put his flag up so the goal was ruled out.

We then had two good shouts for a penalty when first Ironside was sandwiched in the area and dumped to the floor and then only a minute later a Chorley player went to ground in the area and pushed the ball away with his hand.  Both incidents were waved away.

We continued to dominate the game and at last began to play with more confidence now that the nervousness of the first had all but disappeared.  Brown almost got his goal when he fired in but somehow the keeper just got his fingers to it and tipped the ball over the bar for a corner and James McQuilkin came even closer when his shot from the edge of the area crashed against the bar then Ryan Croasdale saw a goal bound effort cleared off the line by Matt Challoner a minute later.

There was a lengthy stoppage while Jordan Tunnicliffe was treated for a head injury and the Chorley players were also beginning to feel the heat and the effects of the lush turf by dropping to the floor with cramp.  Due to all that the referee added on eight minutes of time and it was just two minutes in of that when the un-thinkable happened.

We were going all out to grab that all important goal and then found ourselves caught out of position defensively.  The ball came over and again we dithered to let in Adam Roscoe who had come on earlier on for Stephen Jordan.  Francis-Angol was the last man between himself and Hornby but Roscoes pace was too much and he nipped it to take it around the keeper and into the waiting net.

The Chorley fans invaded the pitch in celebration while our fans began to slink away.  With another six minutes to go we tried our best but Chorley weren't letting this go lightly and saw the remainder of the game out to earn themselves the chance to play Halifax in the final.  Their delayed game against Salford had gone to extra time and then penalties but with Salford missing all of theirs Halifax went through.

It's been a long season and to be honest we have done better that any Harriers fan had expected we would.  John Eustace and Matt Gardiner have assembled a team (I'm not going to say 'young team') that are capable of some lovely football at times and some naive errors at other times too.  They just need to keep this squad together and maybe we'll be in the play offs next season too or even better we can win the title outright.

At least we'll get a nice weekend in York next season.  Watch it get pencilled in for a Tuesday evening.
  FT: 0 - 2

 Goals for Chorley: Carver 18, Roscoe 92

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Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Chorley FC  goals   subs   cards 
Hornby     Branagan  
Hodgkiss gif     Challoner  
Francis-Angol   Blakeman  
Croasdale     Teague
Lowe     Leather  
Tunnicliffe     Jordan gif  
Waite gif     O'Keefe gif
McQuilkin     Whitham  
Ironside     Carver gif gif  
Gnahoua     Walker  
A Brown     Cottrell  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Williams     Dibble  
Carter     Jarvis gif - 59  
Sonupè gif - 78     Roscoe gif gif - 76  
Knights gif - 95     Charnock gif - 84  
Truslove     Azam  

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