Celtic were forty seconds from an amazing away win at title hopefuls Chorley, and instead now must face a replay at Bower Fold on Tuesday night.
The first half started evenly enough, with both defences marshalled well, though Chorley probably shaded the chances. Chris Almond warmed Lewis King up with an early shot straight at him, and then scuffed horribly wide when it looked easier to score. Liam Dickinson lifted a free kick over the wall into Aaron Grundy's arms. Chorley had a great chance when Darren Stephenson went one-on-one with King, King coming out the victor, the loose ball cannoning out to Dale Whitman who curled in a forty yard effort that dipped low enough to clip the crossbar.
Chorley were in the ascendancy at this point, and opened the scoring from a corner. Whitman whipped the ball to the near post where King went head to head with Andy Teague and Darren Stephenson, the latter getting the telling touch in the scramble.
Celtic looked a little disarrayed after the goal, though Charlie Ennis did put a free kick narrowly over the bar and Liam Dickinson fired an effort across the face that had Aaron Grundy scampering across to catch, but despite looking a little off, Celtic retained enough composure to keep Chorley at bay until half time, and have a chance to regroup at half time.
And regroup they did.
The second half was a different game, with Celtic on top, a loose clearance came out to Stefan Galiski early doors, with his shot from thirty yards out, and though Stephenson fired at King, and Almond fired over, it was Celtic that looked the more dangerous. Ben McKenna cut inside, interchanged with Ennis, but fired wide, and the introduction of George Lomax added yet another dimension. He flicked Ennis's chipped cross towards goal, but Grundy was up to it, as he was when he had to save with his feet at the near post as Lomax tried to turn Dickinson's low cross into a crowd.
A goal was coming, and it came courtesy of Ennis. Lomax put the ball out to the wing, Ennis collected, beat two, came into the box, rode another challenge and curled the ball around Grundy to equalise and send the large Celtic contingent into raptures.
But better was yet to come. George Lomax flicked a header narrowly wide of the near post, before Andy Teague's suicidal back pass into no-man's land left Grundy no chance of reaching it ahead of Liam Dickinson. There is no better striker one-on-one than Dickinson, and though Grundy tried to stay on his feet, Dickinson slotted the ball past him and put Celtic into the lead with just two minutes left on the clock.
It could have been a two goal cushion when Chorley pressed and Celtic broke magnificently, James Cadman's ball into the path of George Lomax forced Grundy into the save of the match, not just because it was a good save, but also because of what it meant.
That save saved Chorley as deep into injury time, with everybody forward, Andy Teague made up for his back pass by getting a powerful header on Paul Jarvis's cross from the corner that King couldn't reach and earned the home side a replay that will take place on Tuesday night at Bower Fold.
|6||Lynch, Jack||> 67|
|7||Almond, Chris||> 58|
|12||Dean, James||< 58|
|14||Roscoe, Adam||< 67|