Words by Richard Scott
The 2016/17 football season is now moving into its final third, teams are making last minute plans to make a late dash for the play-offs or to pull off a dramatic escape from relegation.
At Chorley defender, Scott Leather believes his side are ready for the challenge getting into the top five brings. Having sat in the play-off position for the majority of the season, the last thing they want to do is fall short when it matters.
The Magpies face a critical month in the Vanarama National League North as they take on promotion contenders Darlington 1883 and Kidderminster Harriers at home as well as tricky trips to FC United of Manchester and Boston United.
Leather said: “It’s a big month for all the teams in and around the playoffs.
“Not many points separate the teams pushing for promotion and there are some huge games ahead. I think this month will give you an idea of who has got a real chance of making the top five.
“You have to beat the teams around you to stand a chance and Kidderminster and Darlington are huge games for any team. Everyone at Chorley is ready for the challenge.”
Chorley have got the best defensive in the league have only conceded 20 goals throughout the entire season and in all competitions kept 16 clean sheets.
They always say if you keep a clean sheet you have at least got a point and Leather is delighted with how he and his defensive colleagues have been doing this season.
He added: “As a team, we are all delighted about how well we have done defensively. More so the defenders and keepers as that is what we are there for, to keep the ball out the net. We all work hard from front to back.
“I’ve always been told that to win leagues and promotions you have to keep clean sheets for starters, and hopefully that quote is proven right this year.”
The stats are even more impressive when you consider that regular first choice goalkeeper Sam Ashton has been out injured since October and won’t feature again, he was replaced by Shaun Rowley on loan from Shrewsbury Town up until the New-Year then Ritchie Branagan was brought in after leaving Macclesfield Town.
Added to this with injuries to the likes of skipper Andy Teague and Matt Challanor, who are the heartbeat of the defence.
However, the Magpies have dusted their wings down and got back into flight.
Leather said: “Obviously it was a blow as we are a close knit bunch but I feel we all have dealt with it well and the results reflect that.
“The lads that have got injured for long periods have been great as they are always around giving support and motivation as well as working hard to get fit. Credit to management getting some quality loan signings in quickly to cover people too.”