BOSTON UNITED 3 CHORLEY 4: Pilgrims exit the FA Cup after extra-time heartbreak

James Clifton.
James Clifton.

Nick Haughton struck a hat-trick as the curse of Chorley returned to knock Boston United out of the FA Cup.

It took extra-time for the 10-man Magpies to finally see off the valiant Pilgrims is a full-thrust cup tie which will live long in the memory.

But, just like 2015’s play-off semi-final, it was Chorley again who celebrated as Boston were left wondering what could have been.

There’s a sense of irony attached to the result as Haughton and keeper Matt Urwin - who kept his side in the contest with a string of fine saves - will be unable to play in the first round as they are both on loan from upcoming opponents Fleetwood Town.

And after the 11th meeting between the two sides in less than four years ended with a cup exit, United will be well and truly pleased to see the back of the Magpies… until March, at least.

James Clifton put the Pilgrims ahead in the 23rd minute, pressuring Adam Blakeman before reacting first to the Chorley man’s weak defensive header and drilling a low tight-angled strike beyond Matt Urwin.

But four goals in 11 second-half minutes truly brought the tie to life.

Nick Haughton levelled five minutes after the break with a moment of magic, his first touch creating space at the expense of Shane Killock and his second drilling a powerful 20-harder beyond George Willis.

United regained the lead less than 60 seconds later as Kabongo Tshimanga grabbed his eighth of the season, dinking the ball over Andy Teague and then repeating the trick with Urwin, before making sure on the line.

But Teague made amends in the 56th minute as he headed Blakeman’s corner through the pack and into net.

And it was that man Haughton who put the Magpies in front with 61 minutes on the clock, skipping through the home side’s box and bending another fierce effort beyond Willis.

Impact sub Gregg Smith made it 3-3 just moments after his arrival, smashing Liam Wakefield’s low cross high into the net from close range after Jay Rollins’ determination kickstarted the move with eight minutes left to play.

But Haughton had the final say, completing his hat-trick with a low drive in the second half of extra-time, a far cry from the goalless draw these two sides played out at Victory Pask on Saturday.

Clifton’s strike proved the difference in a first half which saw the Pilgrims produce some of their best attacking football of the season.

Enjoying the slick surface under the floodlights, pace and quick interchanges were their most effective weapons, while the forwards added a desire to hassle and hurry the Magpies defence at every opportunity.

Former Pilgrims trialist Urwin stood firm to beat away Tshimanga’ drive at his near post early on, before holding onto efforts from Jack Thomas - who has extended his loan spell from Mansfield Town for another month - and Karl Hawley, the latter epitomising that first-half display with tireless running and ankle-nipping menace.

But Chorley don’t sit in the National League North’s play-off spots by accident and produced opportunities of their own.

Twice Willis was called upon to make vital saves, tipping Haughton’s 20-harder wide at full stretch and pounding away Jason Walker’s strike from close range.

Tshimanga had a golden opportunity to double United’s advantage at the start of the second half, giving Matt Challoner the slip but firing wide.

And at 3-2 down Jordan Keane came within a whisker of levelling, his clipped effort striking the inside of the Chorley post but rebounding back into play.

In the dying seconds both teams had chances to sneak it.

Walker’s 20-yard lob beat Willis but not the crossbar, while Urwin kept his side in the contests by tipping Tshimanga’s powerful strike away from the top corner.

Just seconds into extra time Magpies substitute Matt Hughes had the fresh legs to take him round Willis but Brad McGowan slid in to hack the ball off the line.

But Hughes’ involvement became nothing more than a cameo following his 103rd-minute sending off for an off-the-ball swipe at Jan Yeomans, who was sent off in Saturday’s meeting.

Extra-time was a tentative affair, but Josh Wilson began the final 15 minutes by forcing Willis to save his header, before Haughton completed his hat-trick.

UNITED: Willis, Wakefield, Yeomans, McGuire, Killock, McGowan, Thomas (Vince 67), Keane, Hawley (Smith 76), Tshimanga, Clifton (Rollins 65); Subs (not used): Hemmings, Chapman, Beatson, Adams.

CHORLEY: Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman, Teague, Leather, Jordan, Haughton (O’Keefe 115), Wilson, Carver (Hughes 90), Walker (Osei Kofi 119), Cottrell; Subs (not used): Charnock, Jarvis, Anson, Azam.

Ref: Wayne Cartmel.

Att: 1,132 (46)