Non-league Chorley were unable to emulate the heroes from 1986 by causing an FA Cup sensation against Wolves – but the National League North side came away with all the credit from their fourth-round tie at Victory Park.
But Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were less than impressive against their part-time opponents.
Chorley had the first shot of the match through Elliot Newby, and after Vitinha had struck his first Wolves goal with the visitors’ only shot on target, it was the hosts who had the best chances.
Crucially, they also pocketed around £120,000 in prize money, plus TV fees, to sustain them through what could be a difficult period after their league was suspended for two weeks amid funding concerns earlier in the day.
“If you are going to lose, I would prefer to lose to a goal like that than a scruffy goal,” said Chorley boss Jamie Vermiglio.
“I am proud of what we have done for our community, my kids at school will remember that their head teacher got this far in the FA Cup. Hopefully it can inspire some of them.
“We are approaching up to half a million [in earnings from the cup run], we have people who are isolating, and those players have given them a little bit of happiness.
“If it is 2-0 or 3-0 at half-time the game is done and people are turning their TVs off. That did not happen. I felt we were in the game. Every player was outstanding.”
Night to remember for Chorley
If this does end up being Chorley’s last game of the season, it is one they will remember for some time, not only for the action on the pitch but also for the huge volley of fireworks that went off behind the main stand minutes into the contest.
For visiting Wolves, it was a step into the unknown. Their starting line-up got changed in the away dressing room, while their substitutes – European Championship winner Rui Patricio and Spain international Adama Traore among them – readied themselves in a sponsors’ lounge.
Seemingly those starting the game on the bench got the better deal.
Wolves boss Nuno paid Chorley the compliment of picking a strong starting line-up, including £35.6m record signing Fabio Silva and England international Conor Coady.
And had this match been played in more imposing surroundings, it could have been mistaken for one of those Premier League games where one side sits back, challenges the opposition to break them down and then hits them on the counter.
Wolves’ return of 76% possession and one shot on target, set against Chorley’s five shots on target, suggests home manager Vermiglio got his tactics spot on.
Indeed, had Andy Halls, a personal trainer by day, not had his goal-bound header tipped over by John Ruddy after an hour, Chorley might have forced a different outcome.
“The scene was set for us to lose this game,” said Nuno. “John Ruddy did his job, everybody knows his quality. He helped us to win the game.”
It was nevertheless a typically English FA Cup tie, enlivened by Vermiglio yelling “nothing wrong with that” when two Wolves players went down under agricultural challenges, and then laughing in Traore’s face amid a brief skirmish.
It was fantastic knockabout stuff. Sadly, the enduring disappointment was that other than staff, media and stewards, no-one was there in person to witness it.
Portuguese prowess – the stats
- Wolves have reached the FA Cup fifth round in three of the last five seasons, as many as in the 21 seasons prior to this.
- Premier League teams have progressed from 45 of their 47 FA Cup ties against non-league teams (96%), with only Norwich vs Luton in 2013 and Burnley vs Lincoln in 2017 failing to progress.
- Separated by 120 years and 362 days, Chorley have lost both of their FA Cup games against top-flight opponents, losing against Notts County in January 1900 and Wolves.
- Vitinha became the 32nd different Wolves player to score a goal for Nuno Espirito Santo in all competitions and the 11th different Portuguese player to do so, with what was his third shot in his 12th appearance.
- Since the start of 2017-18, Wolves have had 11 different Portuguese scorers – more than twice as many as any other English league team in that time (Nottingham Forest, five).
Wolves are next in action against Chelsea in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, 27 January (18:00 GMT).
- 2BirchBooked at 86mins
- 6BainesSubstituted forMillerat 84′minutes
- 13ShentonSubstituted forHenleyat 84′minutes
- 12TomlinsonBooked at 36mins
- 27HallSubstituted forSmithat 87′minutes
- 9CardwellBooked at 89mins
- 16CoadyBooked at 63mins
- 28João MoutinhoSubstituted forNevesat 68′minutes
- 20VitinhaSubstituted forTraoréat 69′minutes
- 17Fábio Silva
- 23CutroneSubstituted forNetoat 68′minutes
- 11Rui Patrício
- 22Nélson Semedo
- Anthony Taylor
Match ends, Chorley 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.