The Harriers came away from a tough encounter at Chorleys Victory Park ground this evening with a one goal lead to take back to Aggborough this coming Sunday. A wonderful goal from Arthur Gnahoua late in the second half put a smile on the 400 Reds fans who had made the journey North.
James McQuilkin returned to the starting eleven after missing the previous game with a slight ankle knock. Daniel Nti was still out with an Achilles injury while Elton N'Gwatala is expected to miss all of the playoff games with a shoulder injury that will need surgery.
The game got underway on the home sides awful pitch at a breakneck pace with the Harriers having all of the possession. Within the first ten minutes of the game we could have been a couple of goals clear after Andre Brown was the first to test the Chorley keeper, Richie Branagan, but he blocked his shot and then two minutes later Zaine Francis-Angol swept the ball in from out wide for Gnahoua to strike but his shot went wide. Brown again had another chance to score but could only watch as his nice strike went over the bar.
We came even closer to scoring a minute after when Jordan Tunnicliffe got his head to the ball and send his header crashing against the crossbar with the Chorley keeper well beaten.
The pace couldn't be kept up though and some strange refereeing didn't help either side. Scott Leather was only booked when he bought down last man Gnahoua and then he gave us a free kick when Ryan Croasdale pulled one of theirs back. The assistant on our right was no better when he flagged Joe Ironside offside even though he ran five yards to overtake their defender to get to the ball.
The Magpies began to make some ground against us when they had their first real chance on goal when Adam Blakeman sent a low drive in forcing Sam Hornby into scrambling across his area to flip the ball out for a corner. As usual we tried our best help the opposition score when Croasdale mis-judged a back header to Hornby and forced Sam into scuttling across the area to push the ball away.
Mid-way through the half there was a real scare for us when Blakeman, again, looked to be their dangerman with a well taken free kick from well outside the area that he blasted goalwards and avoided the wall completely but not Sam Hornby who expertly got down to it for a brilliant stop.
We tightened up a bit following that scare and the remainder of the first half passed without any further danger.