Chorley's FA Cup fairytale lives to fight another day after a 2-0 win over a young Derby County side at Victory Park.
The giant-killing narrative went out of the window when Covid-19 ruled Derby's entire first team bubble, including interim boss Wayne Rooney, out of the game. Academy Development Coach Pat Lyons was forced to field 11 debutants made up of under-18s and under-23s. Chorley's superior physicality was obvious from the start.
Set pieces were a constant threat to the visitors, and they went behind to Connor Hall's close range finish after 10 minutes. His strike partner Harry Cardwell flicked on Willem Tomlinson's corner and he was there to nod in, but Mike Calveley was credited with the assist after a scramble in the area.
Moments earlier, referee Kevin Friend had seemingly awarded Derby a penalty after a coming together between Chorley goalkeeper Matthew Urwin and Cameron Cresswell, but he changed his mind on the advice of his assistant.
Cardwell and Hall continued to cause havoc as Chorley dominated throughout the first half, but it was Tomlinson who went closest to doubling their lead when his volley crashed off the bar four minutes before half-time.
Hall forced Matthew Yates into a save moments into the second half. Elliot Newby robbed Harrison Solomon and fed him on the edge of the box, but his effort was well pushed away.
Newby became a major influence on the game from there and helped maintain the pressure on Derby, who continuously struggled to assert themselves. His cross was tapped in by Calveley, who made sure of the win six minutes from time.
TALKING POINT - Chorley's strength overpowered young Rams
It is an amazing story for Chorley to be where they are, but the pre-game build up changed with the news of the virus outbreak at Derby. Their youngsters showed glimpses of quality, but couldn't get themselves into the game. Chorley's frontline of Cardwell and Hall, fed by crosses from Shenton and Newby, were too much for Derby to handle; there is no shame losing in such a fashion for the Championship side.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Harry Cardwell (Chorley)
Cardwell and Hall were the obvious threat before the game; they had shown their understanding in victories over Wigan Athletic and Peterborough United. The former set the tone by winning everything in the air for Chorley, including the first ball from the corner for the opening goal. Newby ran him close on his second half showing, but the big striker deserves great credit.
Chorley: Urwin 6, Baines 7, Halls 6, Leather 6, Birch 7, Tomlinson 7, Shenton 6, Calveley 7, Newby 7, Hall 7, Cardwell 7 Substitutes: Henley 6, Smith 6, Reilly n/a
Derby: Yates 7, Solomon 6, Bateman 5, Jinkinson 6, Williams 6, Aghatise 5, Thompson 5, Hutchinson 5, Bardell 6, Cresswell 6, Duncan 5 Substututes: Ebosele 6, Cybulski 5, Ibrahim n/a
6' - NO PENALTY! Isaac Hutchinson plays in Cameron Cresswell, who goes down in the area under Matt Urwin's challenge. Penalty appeared to be given, but Kevin Friend changed his mind. Good goalkeeping, but Derby are threatening.
10' - GOAL! Chorley are ahead! Hall scores after a scramble from the corner. Cardwell wins the initial header from Willem Tomlinson's corner. Big test for Derby, now!
47' - SAVE! Yates does well to deny Hall after Newby robs the Derby defence high up. Good strike by the forward from the edge of the box.
84' - GOAL! There is the second. Calveley forces home Newby's cross.
Chorley are now unbeaten in their last seven FA Cup home games.