Town trim the gap at the top with triumph over Chorley
Harrogate Town narrowed the gap at the top of National League North to just two points when they triumphed 1-0 on the road at Chorley.
Jordan Thewlis’ late strike was enough to seal a crucial victory, moving Simon Weaver’s side to within touching distance of leaders Salford City, who failed to win for the fourth game in succession when they drew 2-2 at Stockport.
“I’m really pleased. Whenever you come and play Chorley it’s a tough game. They’re a really organised, good, strong team with a lot of experienced players,” the Town boss reflected.
“We knew we had to dig in and we did, we rode our luck early on in the game on a difficult pitch, but the lads did a job.
“It was a superb second half. We created a few chances and could have had more but it’s a fantastic three points away.
“I had my youngest team out that I’ve had out in the last three or four years and I’m really, really proud of them.”
Boss Weaver made two enforced changes to his back four with Jack Vann and Toby Lees replacing the suspended Terry Kennedy and Warren Burrell.
And Chorley set about testing their visitors’ new-look defence and gloveman James Belshaw early in the game, but Town’s stopper kept out both Nick Haughton’s deflected free-kick and Will Beesley’s left-footed effort inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Belshaw remained in the thick of the action early on with his most impressive save thwarting Marcus Carver at the near post, though the keeper had youngster Lees to thank moments later for an excellent last-ditch sliding tackle that denied Carver the chance to shoot when one-on-one.
Midway through the first period, Town almost profited from a comical own goal as Will Beesley’s pass back looked to be heading over the goal-line, only for home custodian Matt Urwin to come to the rescue at the last second.
The men from the CNG Stadium created their best opportunity of the half six minutes before the break when Thewlis’ cross found Mark Beck at the back post, though the big striker’s header was caught by Urwin.
Weaver’s side thought they had taken the lead nine minutes after the re-start when Thewlis glanced Joe Leesley’s free-kick into the back of the net, only to be adjudged offside by the linesman.
The second period saw Town’s goal under much less pressure, while Thewlis almost found the net once again at the other end.
The winger’s effort was heading towards the top corner of the Chorley net before it was palmed behind by Urwin, who also denied Louie Swain when Leesley’s corner fell to him.
A decisive moment was eventually to arrive, and with just nine minutes left to play.
The lively Thewlis beat his marker on the right wing before floating the ball over the head of Urwin and in at the back post.
Leesley then had the chance to make it 2-0 in the closing stages after being brought down from behind inside the penalty area after a mazy run, only to see his spot kick saved by Chorley’s keeper, though the miss was not to prove costly.
Harrogate have the chance to go top of the pile on Tuesday evening when they visit Nuneaton Town, 7.45pm kick-off.