CHORLEY — A stunning long-range goal by Vitinha proved the difference as Wolverhampton Wanderers endured an uncomfortable night to edge out sixth-tier Chorley 1-0 in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday.
Vitinha, on loan from Porto, unleashed a swerving shot from 30 metres past Chorley’s Matthew Unwin in the 12th minute—the only shot a toothless Wolves managed on target.
Apart from that moment of quality it was hard to believe that Wolves, 14th in the Premier League, began the game 111 places higher up the English soccer pyramid than their hosts.
National League part-timers Chorley gave Wolves a torrid time on a bobbly pitch, especially after the break when Connor Hall twice had great chances to equalise and Wolves keeper John Ruddy rescued his side with a brilliant save from Andy Halls.
In the end Wolves were relived to hear the final whistle as Chorley’s courageous attempt to cause a shock fell short.
“We are disappointed. That says a lot. I felt the stats were in favour of us, we were excellent, really disciplined and looked like we were going to score every time we got into the box,” Chorley manager Jamie Vermiglio, a headteacher, said.
“I thought we were tremendous. We should have scored.”
One of the greatest night’s in Chorley’s history was a 3-0 win over Wolves in second replay of a first-round tie in 1986.
But that was against a club that had fallen on hard times and was languishing in the old fourth division. This time Wolves arrived with the likes of England defender Conor Coady and European champion Joao Moutinho in their ranks.
Chorley, sadly playing without their fans at their snug Victory Park ground in England’s north west, almost got a dream start when Elliot Newby forced a sharp low save from Ruddy.
When Vitinha was allowed too much time to advance and let fly with an unstoppable shot for his first Wolves goal it should have knocked the stuffing out of the minnows.
But they responded in superb fashion, physically matching their illustrious opponents and playing some cultured football.
Willem Tomlinson volleyed wide as the ball dropped kindly to him shortly after the hosts had gone behind.
It was in the second half, however, that Chorley really threatened to upset the odds.
Shortly after the restart Hall was picked out by a cross from the left but his header was straight at Ruddy.
Hall, who scored in the previous round against Derby County, then screamed in frustration as he volleyed over from another superb cross by former Everton academy player Arlen Birch.
The closest Chorley came was when Halls steamed in to meet a far-post header but Ruddy acrobatically tipped over the bar.
Wolves struggled to get any sort of grip on the game and even sent on heavyweight trio Ruben Neves, Pedro Neto and Adama Traore, albeit to little effect as they scraped through.
After a confidence-shredding six-game winless streak in the Premier League, Wolves were just happy to survive.
“A win is a win but they were tough,” said Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar; Reuters
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