12 November 2019 06:53
Matt Urwin's penalty shoot out heroics broke Altrincham's hearts and sent Chorley FC through to the National League North play-off final. After Alex Newby and Adam Blakeman missed their penalties Urwin saved Jake Moult and Shan Densmore's spot-kicks to keep it locked at 0-0. Chorley's Courtney Meppen-Walter beat Anthony Thompson and then Urwin saved James Poole's penalty. Despite Altrincham defending in valiantly Josh Wilson popped up with an 82nd minute header. The Magpies roared on but despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at their visitors they could not find a way through in normal or extra time.
Thompson had been Altrincham's saviour throughout the game but it was the opposite number one that was left beaming with delight at the end of the day. Altrincham had battled their way through extra-time and penalties against Blyth Spartans to secure this date while Chorley did not need an eliminator having finished second in the table. That gave them home advantage and despite having had a midweek game Altrincham looked fresh from the kick-off. Boss Jamie Vermiglio was boosted by the return of key trio skipper Andy Teague, striker Josh Wilson and wing-back Matt Challoner from injury. Matty Urwin and Scott Leather tried to play the ball out from the back with Courtney Meppen-Walter finding himself in trouble.
Jake Cottrell sat deeper in front of the back three to try and stop Altrincham's midweek hero Joshua Hancock pulling the strings. The Chorley skipper thundered the ball towards goal but Thompson was up to the challenge with a fine reflex stop to bat away the ball and collect at the second attempt. He made his way to the back line but he was thwarted by a recovering Blakeman as Chorley managed to contain the opposition's threat. Again the referee waved away an Altrincham penalty claim as Jake Moult went to ground in Chorley's box but the referee did not book the Altrincham man for simulation. Blakeman and Wilson combined to tee up Elliot Newby but his effort was blocked,. Though again the visitors targeted Chorley's left flank with Johnston feeding Hulme, he pulled the ball back to Hancock who fired over when he should have hit the target. Both sides continued to cancel each other out as they approached the break but it was a fine advert for National League North football despite the lack of goals. Johnston handled in the box and again the referee did not reach for his pocket but up the other end Chorley just failed to pounce on a Blakeman set-piece. Whatever Vermiglio said at half-time worked as the Magpies flew out of the traps and found another level. Elliot Newby was so close to giving the Magpies the lead just minutes into the second 45 as his curling effort rolled towards the corner but kissed the post with Carver unable to convert the rebound. Carver's effort is batted away and just cannot be converted by Alex Newby or Wilson with Altrincham at sea. Elliot Newby again found space to attack and his effort was just tipped away by Thompson. The Magpies had managed to get the Newby's on the ball in the second 45 and their attack looked sharper. Joshua Hancock broke the offside trap as Chorley were felled on a corner and he was composed to slide the ball under Urwin in the 67th minute. Chorley were given a glimmer of hope as Altrincham's goal hero Hancock was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Marcus Carver in the 72nd minute Vermiglio sent on last weekend's hat-trick hero Louis Almond replacing Elliot Newby as the Magpies went with three up front to try and get that leveller. Almond fresh and hungry off the bench found time to whip his foot around the ball in the box but his effort flew comfortably to Thompson as the Magpies camped in Altrincham's half. Vermiglio threw O'Keefe on for Matt Challoner but the Magpies still could not find a way to break down Altrincham's defence. That was until the 82nd minute when the Magpies finally beat Thompson. A Blakeman long throw from the right was flicked on by Teague and looked to be flying home but poacher Josh Wilson popped up at the back stick to ensure the ball crossed the line. The Magpies pushed on but again Altrincham held firm with all 10 men behind the ball asking Chorley to attack. Almond found a pocket and rolled the ball to Cottrell on the edge of the box, his effort was charged down and Altrincham countered. The Magpies had a late corner but could not use it and the tie went to extra time. The Magpies tried something outside of the box from a set-piece as Blakeman played it short to Alex Newby, he teed-up Scott Leather in acres of space but his thunderous effort just flew wide of the right stick. Again the Magpies attacked, this time Meppen-Walter's cross whirled through the air to O'Keefe. Time seemed to stand still as it flew towards goal but somehow Thompson got across to pluck the ball out of fresh air. The Magpies came out fighting again in the second half of extra time. He opted to pull the ball back to Alex Newby but his curling effort eventually dropped to Thompson. The Magpies took a patient approach as they camped in Altrincham's half. Meppen Walter's header was cleared off the line by Poole and Wilson's first-time effort clattered into the advertising boards. But despite their best efforts the Magpies could not find a way through. Altrincham won a set-piece but the Magpies defended valiantly and the tie was destined for penalty kicks. Chorley: Urwin, Challoner (O'Keefe, 80), Teague, Leather, Meppen-Walter, Blakeman, Cottrell, A Newby, E Newby (Almond, 75), Wilson, Carver (Tuton, 119). Altrincham: Thompson, Densmore, Hampson, Jones, Hannigan, Moult, Johnston, Williams (Richman, 65), Hulme (Poole, 54) Hancock, Ceesay (Harrop, 95). Wrexham AFC goalkeeper Christian Dibble had his car stolen from outside his home in the same night his team crashed out of the National League playoffs.