CONF. NORTH: Chorley 0-0 Boston United

Boston United manager Dennis Greene was left frustrated following his side’s goalless draw against Chorley at Victory Park in the first-leg of the Vanarama Conference North play-off.

The visitors would rue missed opportunities to hold an advantaged heading back to York Street after Mark Jones and Dayle Southwell, Boston’s top goal scorer with 30 league goals, both squandered second half chances.

Meanwhile, Chorley were limited to one shot on target, which the Pilgrims goalkeeper Max Steyjek held with ease and they failed to capitalise on a near gaffe by the 18-year-old.

A stalemate allows both to regroup before meeting for again on May 5 with the winner advancing to face either AFC Fylde or Guiseley – who edged the Coasters 1-0 – in the final.

Even though kick-off was delayed by a quarter-hour due to traffic on the M62, Boston United were quick out of the gates, utilising the speed of Kaine Felix down the right flank.

The 19-year-old nearly opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Grant Roberts played the winger in on ball over the top but his attempt skidded harmlessly across the Chorley goalmouth.

Manager Greene applauded the effort of his young player saying, “If we can get it along the floor and down the sides to Kaine they can’t get anywhere near him, he’s too quick.

“He’s a big outlet for us and away from home tonight where we’ve just got to sit in and counter-attack, we’ve got our opportunities from the work he did.”

Until that point, a majority of the early stages of the match had been played in the air with the Magpies looking to take advantage of Dean’s 6-foot-3 frame.

But the host’s top scorer with 18 league goals was kept in check by an equally aggressive and club Player of the Year, Carl Piergianni.

The pair duelled throughout the match but two incidents over the span of 20 minutes in the first half saw Chorley’s Dean go into referee Kevin Mulraine’s book following a high-boot that clipped Piergianni’s face.

While the Pilgrims continued to work down the right side, the Magpies found success down the left through Paul Jarvis, Dale Whitham and Jack Dorney who made life difficult for defender Liam Marrs.

The trio linked up on a number of occasions using one-touch passes to wrong foot Marrs but they were unable to break into the box with any threat.

Jarvis said, “We’ve not got any reservations of going down there and getting a result.

“We defended well as a team and what we’ll look to take into the second-leg is retaining possession in that final third and looking to stick the ball away which is what we lacked a little bit.”

Chorley had two chances in quick succession with arguably their best falling to the feet of Dean after the United keeper misplayed the ball at the edge of his box.

Yet Boston’s defence recovered quickly as Steyjek put off the former Bury-man long enough for them to force a poor shot.

Adam Roscoe then had a chance to test the keeper from 20 yards out following a 25th minute free but he skied the ball into the stands wasting the advanced position, a rarity for Chorley.

Neither side were truly able to take advantage of any possession in the attacking end and a scoreless first half reflected a lack of quality.

Although the Pilgrims continued to put themselves in dangerous positions and shortly after the restart the speedy Felix got in behind the defence once again.

He flew into the area via the right side and played in a blade-cutting cross for the wide-open and charging Jones whose attempt from two-yards went high over the bar.

The match would fall stagnant for a period until Boston’s Zack Mills bowled over Chorley’s Dorney to penalty appeals from the home crowd a quarter-hour from time but the referee refrained from awarding anything.

Boston had the last opportunity to nudge in front 10 minutes from full-time after being awarded a free kick from 20 yards out.

Mills caught the Chorley defence standing still by cleverly playing in a pass along the ground to Southwell who was left alone but the striker rolled the effort marginally wide of the left post.

Greene finished, “We’ve come away from home against a really physical and competitive side, we defended well and stood up and if you look back on it apart from their goalkeeper’s clearance to their player they’ve not had one shot on our goal and our chances got easier and easier.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t at least take one of those chances and I’m disappointed we haven’t won the game but if you’d have asked me for nil-nil, 1-1 or 2-2 before the game I would’ve taken it.”

Chorley: Ashton, Ross, Jarvis, Teague (C), Doyle, Roscoe, Hine, Whitham, Dean, Winter (Cottrell 67’), Dorney (Almond 78’).
Unused subs: Flynn, Burns, Mather.
Bookings: Dean (Yellow 29’).

Boston: Steyjek, Marrs, Steer (Dixon 76’), Roberts, Garner (C), Piergianni, Felix, Mills, Southwell, Jones, Walker.
Unused subs: Newsham, Vince, Dixon, McGhee.
Bookings: None.

Referee: Kevin Mulraine
Attendance: 2,022


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