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Avenue & Chorley Through To North Play-Off Semi-Finals

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The play-offs are notorious for making a nonsense of the clubs respective finishing positions in the regular season.

And on Wednesday night in the Vanarama National League North, the first season of the system of play-off eliminators once again proved that it doesn`t always matter where you finish as long as you make it to the extra games.

Bradford Park Avenue, who only just scraped into the top seven on goal difference after Spennymoor Town`s drop in form late on, won 2-0 away at Kidderminster Harriers side who finished fourth, nine points in front of Avenue, and Chorley, who ended up in sixth place, beat fifth-placed Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

Kidderminster, who were beaten by Chorley in the play-off semi-finals last season, didn`t even manage to make it that far this time as they suffered heartbreak against Park Avenue at Aggborough in front of a crowd of 2,291.

Adam Boyes bagged an early goal for the visitors after 10 minutes.

Oli Johnson fed a ball through to Boyes who calmly slotted the ball home from an angle.

Harriers largely dominated the rest of the half and the opening stages of the second period, but the visitors weathered the storm and then hit the hosts with a sucker punch 12 minutes from time.

Johnson was allowed time and space just inside the box to fire past Harriers` keeper Brandon Hall and double Bradford`s lead.

It was a lead they were to hold on to reasonably comfortably and it is Mark Bower`s side who will make the journey down the M1 to Brackley Town on Sunday for the semi-final.

The evening`s other eliminator was expected to be a very tight affair between Stockport and Chorley.

The pair had shared 1-1 draws in both of the league games in the regular season and, in front of a terrific crowd of 6,230, another close game was anticipated and that`s what they produced.

Stockport put the Magpies under pressure early on but as no breakthrough came, Chorley began to grow in confidence and saw a lot more of the ball.

A hard, bumpy surface was not allowing for a lot of flowing football, but
Alex Newby brought a decent save out of County `keeper Ben Hinchliffe and at the other end, Matty Warburton`s deflected cross was acrobatically tipped over by Chorley`s number one, Matt Urwin.

It was goalless at the break and the second half saw the Magpies on top – could they make their possession count?

The answer was yes after 68 minutes when a Marcus Carver cross to the far post was headed home from close range by Jason Walker.

Once Stockport had got over the disappointment of conceding, they put Chorley under pressure late on without seriously threatening Unwin`s goal until a late Darren Stephenson effort which was hacked off the line by Josh O`Keefe..

But Chorley saw out stoppage time to reach their third play-off semi-final in four seasons and will travel to the CNG Stadium to play Harrogate Town on Sunday.


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