A second half Scott Duxbury header was enough to secure a 1-1 draw for Stockport County last night at Chorley’s Victory Park.
The point, which coupled with some other favourable results last night, means that the Hatters have secured a play-off spot for the first time in over 10 years.
County, who were without top scorer Jason Oswell, found themselves a goal down after 36 minutes thanks to some good work from Chorley defender Scott Leather, who turned and shot past Ben Hinchliffe to put his side one goal up.
The goal was a deserved one for Chorley, who edged a first half in which the Hatters struggled to make an impact against a team that have conceded only 33 goals this season, the least of any side in the league.
As the teams emerged for the second half, Gannon brought on former Magpie Darren Stephenson and the winger’s presence brought an immediate change to the pattern of the game.
A good passage of play saw James Ball go through on goal, but the National League North player of the month could only stab his effort straight at Matt Urwin.
The Hatters also saw a corner frustratingly hit the post after evading everyone, but drew level in the 70th minute courtesy of Scott Duxbury.
The left-back rose highest from an Adam Thomas cross to loop the ball over ‘keeper Urwin’s head, much to the delight of the 1,000 travelling supporters (no way was there 600).
Both sides had good chances to win the match, with Chorley pushing forward towards the end of the game. Ben Hinchliffe had to make a number of important stops to keep the score level.
Fortunately, after three minutes of added time, the referee blew the final whistle, and it was clear from the reactions of Hatters players, management and fans, who was happier with the result.
The point for County secures a play-off spot for the first time since 2008, and the aim for Jim Gannon now will be to secure a home tie in the quarter-finals, with fourth still within reach for the Hatters with only two games to go.
FT: Chorley 1-1 County
Starting XI: Hinchliffe, Cowan, Duxbury, Turnbull, Smalley, Stott, Thomas (Clarke), Winter (Capt.), Ball, Warburton (O’Halloran 86), Turner (Stephenson 46).
Unused: Ormson, Minihan.