First rule of banana-skin cup ties is keep the crowd quiet. Unfortunately Chorley accidentally interrupted the Armistice Silence, but would not wait long to resume cheering. Rovers players were perhaps mentally still at the centre circle as a free Josh O’Keefe header from a corner had the hosts in front in the second minute.
Rovers set about equalising but were unimpressive, not stamping their physical superiority home enough. Herbie Kane – surely Rovers best loanee since Tony Woodcock – levelled the score on 11 minutes and we thought that’s that. However it wasn’t and we continued huffing and puffing, wasting chances that should have killed the game off early. Mallik Wilks had the best when clean through but hit the post. Immediately counter-attacking, Chorley induced several defensive mistakes before Courtney Meppen-Walter fired in a fine goal for a 2-1 half-time lead.
The second half was typical David v Goliath, producing desperate defending and cynicism with Chorley fighting to hold onto their cup upset. Rovers produced many chances which they contrived to miss, or have saved, or kicked off the line. Then a dreadful tackle on the brilliant Kane resulted in an instant red card, but inexplicably no penalty.
Rovers struggled to take advantage of the extra man, but thankfully Rovers man of the match Kane, having dusted himself off, produced a simply brilliant laser-guided shot to finally beat Chorley’s impressive Matt Unwin. Rovers still could not prevent a replay, however they should still be confident of progressing.
by John Turner