A WONDERSTRIKE from Craig King and a brave early tactical switch helped Worksop Town to secure a valuable 1-1 draw at Chorley on Saturday.
Tigers went behind on 17 minutes after a shaky defensive display in the opening stages, but King’s goal of the season contender pulled them level.
And manager Simon Clark changed his side around as early as the 23rd minute, replacing captain Stuart Ludlam, already on a yellow, with Ash Burbeary and sending Owain Warlow to left-back, to ensure Worksop stemmed the Chorley attacks down the flank.
The reshuffle worked, as Warlow dealt with dangerman Kirk Millar and the visitors gained a much more solid footing in the game.
Dave Mellor had the first shot of the afternoon, the Chorley right-back blasting well high from a very long way out.
Ludlam was beaten for pace by the lively looking Kirk Millar on 14 minutes and resorted to hacking down the winger, earning a yellow card.
Although Worksop cleared the resultant free-kick, the second ball in caused a scramble that Steve Towers had to hack the ball away.
And another ball into the box saw Adam Roscoe beat Adie Hawes in the air to crash a header off the bar, Andy Russell putting the rebound home only to see a flag raised for offside.
The pressure from the hosts, and ropey defending from the visitors, unsurprisingly brought a goal on 17 minutes.
Russell shaped to shoot but instead dinked the ball to the back post and Andy Teague was unmarked as he knocked home the opener.
Two minutes later it could have got worse for Tigers but Towers was there again to stop the ball reaching an attacker at the far post.
Despite being second best in the early stages, Worskop levelled through a sublime piece of skill from King.
The winger reacted brilliantly on the edge of the box to send a first-time thunderbolt into the top left hand corner of the net, giving Chorley keeper Jack Cudworth no chance whatsoever.
Simon Clark’s reaction to his team equalising was to withdraw captain Ludlam, sending Burbeary into the fray, Warlow moving to left-back.
The skipper was visibly upset by the change and took out his frustration in the tunnel, but the move proved a correct one.
Proya Ahmadi had a chance to put the Magpies back in front but his header was just wide.
At the other end an inviting cross from Warlow found the head of Leon Mettam and he nodded over the bar while unmarked.
A carbon copy of Ludlam’s foul saw Dave Mellor booked for the home side on 32 minutes, halting Matt Young’s run down the wing.
Burbeary strode through the middle after some lovely football from Worksop and brought a decent save out of Cudworth with his left foot.
The greasy surface wasn’t helping either team, and a slip at the back gave Ahmadi a sniff of a chance until he skied a shot.
In time added on there was a golden chance for the visitors to take the lead, Mellor gifting King the ball in the box and the winger looking for a team-mate but only finding a defender six yards out.
Worksop made a much better start to the second period, the game very even for the first quarter of an hour with a couple of half chances at either end.
Only a bizarre decision by the referee to award Chorley a free-kick when Young made an inch perfect tackle provided a real talking point.
On the hour mark Ahmadi saw yellow for what the referee deemed a dive in the box, and then the striker had a fairly tame shot saved by Bastock.
Tigers’ best move since the break saw Young cross, Denton cushion the ball and Burbeary almost find the corner of the net, Cudworth saving well.
There was controversy on 66 minutes as Hawes went down holding his face, Tigers incensed with the challenge of Roscoe who then shoved Miller in the face.
A mass scrum ensued and the end result was yellow cards for Young, Denton and Burbeary, Russell also booked for the hosts.
Ironically, the player who sparked the melee wasn’t even spoken to by the referee.
A dangerous cross from John Cunliffe almost found Dale Whitham in the six yard box but a vital flick from Hawes kept the visitors in it.
Substitute Ciaran Kilheeney should have made it 2-1 when he took the ball, alone, in the Worksop area and Bastock made a fantastic one handed stop.
The three points very nearly travelled back with Worksop when replacement Lee Beeson fired in a free-kick and an unmarked Mettam stooped to head, the effort clearing the bar again.
In the 93rd minute Ryan Clarke showed his markers a clean pair of heels, bursting down the flank in an end-to-end run that unfortunately ended in a poor cross.
The result was a satisfactory one for Tigers who, although are more used to winning away from home, can’t be unhappy with a point at such a difficult place to go.