LET’S get one thing clear on this game; Skelmersdale did not deserve to lose 4-1 especially when for the opening 25 minutes they dominated affairs.
Three things conspired against them - a heavy pitch that suited the physically bigger home team, a goalkeeper who had an inspired day and who ironically is a Skelmersdale hero from last season, and a bit of luck when they needed/deserved it. Leaving even some of the most biased home fans admitting Skelmersdale were better than the scoreline suggests.
Dean Astbury stated the Skelmersdale case after six minutes; cutting in from the right and bringing a fine near-post save out of Chorley goalkeeper Sam Ashton.
Then in the 14th minute, Ashton pulled off a wonder save. Matty Hughes ran on and on with the ball for Skelmersdale, before crossing to far post, where Adam Morning met the ball with a textbook downward header that somehow Ashton got down to and clawed away from his goal-line.
Two minutes later Neil Prince put a chip agonisingly wide and all Chorley could offer at this time was a shot from 20 yards that was dealt with comfortably by Skelmersdale goalkeeper Zac Hibbert.
In the 27th minute the game changed completely.
Chorley counter attacked with a swift move down the right. Skelmersdale left-back Shaun Holden went in for a challenge on the halfway line that left him requiring treatment.
Skem went to kick the ball out but instead via a miss-kick on the boggy surface the ball ran to a Chorley player, who headed for goal, went down under a tackle about five yards outside the Skelmersdale penalty area and a free-kick was given, followed by a crescendo of Skelmersdale protests.
Magpies left-back Paul Jarvis sent the free-kick looping into the far top corner of the Skelmersdale net with a shot that would have made Glenn Hoddle proud.
Chorley had gone in front with a goal that was very much against the run of play.
Twelve minutes later Chorley did it again with another set piece move. Jarvis sent a left-wing free-kick high to the edge of the 18 Yard line, the ball was flicked on and James Dean was able to aim a dropping header into the Skelmersdale net.
It didn’t end there though, now under pressure a Skelmersdale clearance was blocked and the ball ran perfectly to the feet of Jack Dorney in a central position and he made it three.
Skelmersdale reacted well after the restart, but they really were up against it and any hopes that Chorley would tire after a tough midweek game had gone because all they now had to do was defend and hit Skelmersdale with counterattacks.
Astbury was thwarted by another magnificent diving save from Ashton, but then Skelmersdale got a glimpse of daylight.
Kenny Strickland sent a corner to the far post and Tom Hardwick stooped to head home.
Morning headed against the crossbar soon afterwards.
Then with 15 minutes still to play, came the chance to make it two, Morning cleverly rounded Ashton outside the penalty area and the keeper blocked his path.
It was very much a position that would bring a big discussion on Match of the Day, as Ashton was only shown a yellow card.
Defenders were dropping behind Ashton but Morning would have played the ball at goal before they got back to the goal-line to cover. In summing up; “Ashton was arguably a lucky boy to stay on the pitch.”
The decision seemed to lift Chorley and in the latter stages as Skelmersdale became more desperate, they got more breakaway opportunities.
Hibbert ended one after former Skelmersdale striker Josh Hine looked set to score, but he could nothing about the Chorley substitutes move on 85 minutes, it just rubbed salt into Skelmersdale’s wounds.
l CHORLEY: Ashton, Ross, Cottrell, Teague ©, O’Brien, Whitham, Dorney, Woolcott, Dean (Roscoe, 87), Stephenson (Hine, 72), Jarvis Subs (not used) Walmsley, Vermiglio, Grundy
l SKEM: Hibbert, Wylie, Holden (Ince, 72), Hardwick ©, Burton, Dunn, Hughes, Strickland, Astbury, Prince (Visockis, 62), Morning Subs (not used) Field, Peet, O’Reilly
l Referee: T. Bramall (Sheffield)
l Attendance: 1968