Pressure off underdogs Chorley for FA Cup tie at Mansfield Town

Marcus Carver scores against Barnet last weekend. Picture by Stefan Willoughby.
Marcus Carver scores against Barnet last weekend. Picture by Stefan Willoughby.

The pressure is off for struggling National League side Chorley on Saturday as they arrive at Mansfield Town as underdogs for a place in the second round of the FA Cup.

After enjoying such a fine season when they got promoted from the National League North, Chorley begun the new campaign with high hopes that they could keep the ball rolling in non-league’s top flight.

Manager Jamie Vermiglio spoke on the eve of the season about targeting the play-offs, but unfortunately things have not worked out the way he envisaged.

The team are bottom, having won once in the league all season, and look like they require a miracle already to avoid relegation.

The Magpies are a part-time club amongst a division of full-time operations and former Football League clubs and they have struggled to attract new players with other clubs able to blow them out of the water in terms of wages.

On the pitch, they have struggled to find the back of the net on a consistent basis - particularly costly as they have kept several clean sheets.

In many respects, boss Vermiglio has been a victim of his own success.

The club enjoyed such a fine season last time out and they led the National League North for the majority of the campaign before agonisingly being pipped at the post for the title by Stockport. They then picked themselves up and memorably sealed promotion via the play-offs, beating Spennymoor in a penalty shoot-out.

Vermiglio is a cult figure at Victory Park and spent many years as a player with the club.

He was the assistant manager under previous boss Matt Jansen and took control when the ex-Blackburn forward resigned.

Chorley are certainly not known for firing their managers, certainly in recent times under chairman Ken Wright, so Vermiglio’s job is probably safe, especially considering the level the club is currently operating at with its limited budget.

Magpies fans and the board understand the difficulties the team faces this season, but it may be the board may look for a change if things don’t start to improve with football being so unpredicatble.

Like opposite number on Saturday John Dempster,Vermiglio is young and as a manager, relatively inexperienced, but he still hugely popular and well thought of.

Goalkeeper Matty Urwin, formerly of Fleetwood Town, has just recently come back into the side after being injured for the first couple of months of the season.

He is a big character and was integral to Chorley’s success last season, ending up the hero in the play-off penalty shoot-out win.

Former Brighton, Cambridge, Macclesfield and Wrexham front man Chris Holroyd is current top scorer with six, but striker Marcus Carver has been at Chorley for a number of years and is also player always likely to get a goal. He scored with a spectacular overhead kick last weekend against Barnet.

Along with Holroyd, summer signings also included former Burnley trainee Ntumba Massanka and well travelled non-league forward Nortei Nortey.

Ex-Port Vale forward Louis Dodds and re-signed defender Mark Ross. Last week, they signed Martin Smith, a free agent after release from Salford City.

Chorley have only picked up the one win, though have also managed 10 draws in their 19 National League games, the one victory being a 3-0 success over Stockport. They were hammered 5-1 at Notts County - the other Magpies.

Chorley booked their place in the FA Cup first round proper with a fourth qualifying round 2-0 home victory over Spennymoor Town of the National League North.

Mansfield will be without skipper Krystian Pearce again on Saturday with his groin strain and fellow defender Hayden White, also out injured. But top scorer Danny Rose has every chance of making the squad after his ankle injury healed quicker than expected.

“KP came back in on Monday and his groin was a little bit sore. He is probably at least a week away,” said boss John Dempster.

“Hayden is nearly pain-free. He’s having difficulty with the site where he broke his leg.

He has a rod in his leg now with screws and he’s had a bit of pain there.

“We have been working with him since his suspension trying to get him pain-free so he can come back and join the group without him dipping in and out which has been frustrating for both he and I this season.”

For Salford, defenders Scott Leather and Andrew Teague are unlikely to be fit while striker Chris Holroyd is struggling with a calf problem.