A new season, a new squad, but Chorley continue to frustrate Boston United.
The Magpies cruised to a comfortable 2-0 success at the aptly-named Victory Park this afternoon.
Goals from Dale Whitham and Josh O’Keefe guaranteed the points went to the Magpies, who Boston have now failed to beat in their past six meetings.
The Pilgrims were horribly under-strength as they arrived at Duke Street but, despite their handicap, huffed and puffed, caused problems and enjoyed spells of possession.
But few could argue that Chorley were worthy winners as they created the clear-cut chances, converted two of them and were left cursing Christian Dibble that their goal difference isn’t more flattering.
Whitham’s header gave Chorley a 34th-minute lead.
As Boston failed to clear their lines, Paul Jarvis whipped in a cross from the left which was gratefully powered beyond Dibble by the unmarked midfielder.
That lead was doubled four minutes later, O’Keefe gifted a golden opportunity from the penalty spot.
When Stephen Jordan hooked the ball back into the Pilgrims’ box Marcus Marshall turned his back but the ball struck his elevated arm.
The two were merely yards apart, but the unnatural position of the outstretched limb was enough to convince referee Will Finnie to point to the spot, from where O’Keefe drilled his low effort beyond Dibble and into the back of the net.
Dennis Greene spoke in the week about his side taking a ‘freshness’ to Victory Park, just a handful of his current squad left from the team which lost that play-off semi-final against the Magpies on penalties two seasons ago.
With wholesale changes this summer, few in the squad would have cared that the Pilgrims hadn’t beaten Chorley in the past five contests as they boarded the coach.
But what will have frustrated is that Boston travelled north with a host of injury problems, an instant disadvantage.
Kalern Thomas, Waide Fairhurst, Callum Chippendale, Nat Brown, Shane Clarke and Herve Pepe-Ngoma weren’t fit enough to feature while Jay Rollins and Lewis Hilliard were named on the bench, despite both carrying knocks.
Rollins didn’t even put his kit on, instead taking his place in the stands, while Hilliard was gambled upon when Boston were chasing the game and lacking creativity.
This meant that 18-year-old Jack McMillan, arriving on a month’s youth loan from Notts County, began in central midfield alongside Grant Roberts.
The youngster showed he wasn’t going to be psyched out in his new surroundings, laughing off Marcus Carver’s early kick and shove after the ball had been cleared.
But asking him to carry the under-strength starting XI was always going to be too much.
The first half was slow to deliver any goalmouth action.
Chorley had enjoyed space down the left with full back Jarvis overlapping well, but his crosses were repeatedly beaten away.
United, meanwhile, saw Gregg Smith and Marshall both force half chances wide of the mark.
But all that changed in a four-minute spell as the hosts discovered their ruthless streak.
It could have been worse before the interval had Dibble not got down well to deflect Carver’s effort at his near post.
Just three minutes into the second half Greene decided it was time for an attack-minded change, Johnson replacing Wildin.
And the youngster was immediately in the thick of the action, winning possession for Lamin Colley to charge down on goal, where his strike squirmed under Sam Ashton but into the side netting.
There was another let off for Boston when Carver met Jarvis’ deep cross but guided his headed effort the wrong side of the post. Just.
Dibble kept the score respectable with a fine diving save to deny substitute Will Beesley, who was looking to get in on the act.
The young Pilgrims keeper admits he still has plenty about his game to improve, but his shot stopping shouldn’t be questioned.
Once again he pulled off a superb reaction save, this time from Carver’s point-blank header.
The striker looked certain to nod the follow-up into the open net, only for Dibble to leap from the ground and block a second time before Joe Maguire hacked the loose ball clear.
When Carver did beat Dibble he lunged his head back in frustrated as his shot was ballooned well over the bar.
BUFC: Dibble, Burgess, Price, Maguire, Wildin (Johnson 48), Marshall (Adams 73), Roberts (Hilliard 58), McMillan, St Juste, Colley, Smith; Subs (not used): Rollins, Emery.
CHORLEY: Ashton, Challoner, Jarvis (Beesley 75), Charnock, Leather, Jordan, Cottrell (Blakeman 84), Whitham, Carver, Gonzales (Walker 62), O’Keefe; Subs (not used): Teague, Azam.
Ref: Will Finnie.