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THE NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH PLAY-OFF FINAL: Chorley battle past Spennymoor after penalty shoot-out

Chorley deservedly take their place in the National League next season but needed a penalty shoot out to see off an obdurate Spennymoor after the game finished 1-1 after extra time.

Within a hours drive of my home in the North-West there are 14 Football or Premier League teams all vying for my attention.

Chorley are just two promotions away from adding to that number. After defeating eventual National League North champions Stockport they seemed set for automatic promotion to the National League. But with just two games remaining defeat to today's opponents Spennymoor allowed their Greater Manchester rivals to top the table by one point from the Magpies.

Spennymoor ended the season 4th, five points adrift of second placed Chorley and did the double over the North West club. They also came into this game the form side with six wins on the bounce.

In the semi-finals Chorley needed a penalty shoot-out over Altrincham before progressing to this stage in front of 3,446 spectators, an attendance exceeding four League 2 fixtures the previous day.

The National League North is the 6th tier of English football with promotion to the National League the objective, leaving club's just one promotion away from becoming a Football League club via League 2.

So, for the third time in four years Chorley found themselves in the play-off final hoping to go one better than their previous two efforts and enter the National League and whilst it was third time lucky they made hard work of their eventual success.

In the 14 seasons since the National League North formed no team finishing fourth in the regular season has gone on to win promotion via the playoffs, but Spennymoor despite being second best for long periods almost managed it with a battling display.

Chorley dominated for long periods but looked like paying the price for failing to take their opportunities. Large forwards, big defenders and the long ball made for a bruising encounter with frequent off the ball incidents.

The goals all arrived in a three minute period at the end of the first half of extra time. Chorley took the lead through Courtney Meppen-Walters but after a scuffle delayed the kick-off Spennymoor, with their first clear cut chance of the game, levelled with Glen Taylor to the delight of the 900 visiting supporters.

The first three penalties were saved until Spennymoor scored, but they failed to build on their advantage and when the spot kicks went to sudden death, substitute Andrew Johnson saw his effort saved by Matt Urwin handing promotion to Chorley.

AET

Chorley: 1 (Leather 102)

Spennymoor: 1 (Taylor 105)

Chorley win 4-3 on penalties

Attendance: 3,594

Venue: Victory Park

Ian Ferris
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Ian Ferris

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