Chorley 3

Barrow 2

ON A dramatic afternoon at Victory Park unbeaten Chorley staged a stunning second-half comeback to overturn a two goal half-time deficit and dump National League Barrow out of the FA Cup.

Showing all their trademark fighting spirit and will-to-win, the Magpies roused their fans in a fine crowd of 1,734 by reducing the arrears within a minute of the restart and scoring two more goals in a three-minute spell midway through the second half to set the stadium rocking.

In truth, it was a travesty that Barrow went in at half-time two goals up after Chorley had pressed repeatedly, as the first-half corner-count of 7-0 to the Magpies clearly indicated. But the home side looked to have orchestrated their own downfall seconds before the interval by uncharacteristically gifting Barrow a sloppy second goal – a situation Vermiglio’s troops were to prove quick to resolve.

The visitors, understandably cock-a-hoop at the half-time whistle, crumpled all too quickly in the face of a sustained second-half onslaught and could have no complaints at the final result.

The Cumbrians snatched the lead in the 16th minute when clever play down the left unhinged the home defence, allowing ex-Magpie Luke Burgess a simple far-post finish to a low left-wing centre.

Chorley’s response was immediate and Marcus Carver, a constant threat all afternoon, teed up Alex Newby whose well-struck shot flew just past the far post. Firth then had to tip over a dangerous Adam Blakeman cross at the back post and soon afterwards left his line to fist clear the same player’s free-kick in a packed penalty area.

In a quick Barrow breakaway, Stanley loanee Erico de Sousa skimmed the Chorley bar with a fierce angled drive but there was further danger at the other end as Firth thrillingly tipped over a Carver strike from point-blank range. But just when Barrow looked like hanging onto a one-goal lead at the interval, they were gifted a second.

And that lead was doubled just before the break when a dreadful mix-up between Andy Teague and Matt Urwin in dealing with a hopeful through-ball allowed Tyler Smith to tap into an empty net from short range.

But within a minute of the restart Matt Challoner sent a low drive skimming into the corner of the net past a perhaps unsighted Andy Firth. It was a game-changing moment.

Courtney Meppen-Walter was unlucky to see a perfectly-executed chip from halfway sail just past the post with Firth way off his line. Chorley were now building a real head of steam and two goals in three minutes midway through the half sealed Barrow’s fate.

On 67 minutes, Louis Almond showed fine anticipation to intercept an under-powered headed back-pass and clip the ball past an exposed Firth to bring the Magpies level. And Chorley were ahead soon after when Carver was sent clear by a lovely through-ball from substitute Kieran Glynn and beat Firth comprehensively with a cracking low cross-shot.

Barrow made little impression on a resolute home defence apart from a quickly-taken angled effort from Smith which Urwin confidently held at his near post and the final whistle heralded wild rejoicing among the ecstatic home fans.

Bluebirds’ manager Ian Evatt was seething with rage after the game. ‘That performance was completely unacceptable. I am embarrassed by the way we played in the second half and to lose a game like that is unforgivable. But fair play to Chorley; they are a hard-working and very hungry side and good luck to them.’

Magpies’ boss Jamie Vermiglio commented: ‘It was a phenomenal achievement to win that game from where we were at half-time. We didn’t deserve to be two goals down but the players responded with a fantastic second-half display and I’m delighted for them to be in the first round proper once again.’