Vitinha’s early thunderbolt ensured Wolverhampton Wanderers became the first team to confirm their place in the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup – but they were made to sweat thanks to a brave display from non-league Chorley.
Having already knocked out EFL sides Wigan, Peterborough and Derby in this year’s competition, National League North outfit Chorley showed no fear at facing Premier League opposition.
- 2020-21 Emirates FA Cup
- Fourth Round
- 7.45pm, Friday 22 January
- Victory Park, Chorley
Perhaps buoyed by their opponents’ suspect recent form – having failed to win any of their last six Premier League games – or the fact they beat Wolves 3-0 when the sides last met, in the FA Cup first round back in 1986, the Magpies produced a soaring display at Victory Park.
They would have fully deserved an equaliser, and came closest to snatching one when Andy Halls’ header was acrobatically tipped over the bar with 30 minutes remaining, but Vitinha’s world-class piledriver from 35 yards ultimately proved just enough for the visitors.
In an archetypal David-versus-Goliath Emirates FA Cup tie, Chorley’s part-time side included captain Scott Leather booking the day off from his job as a lift engineer to focus on the match and manager Jamie Vermiglio momentarily taking a break from his duties as a primary school headteacher.
Meanwhile, Wolves starting line-up was replete with seasoned internationals such as England players Conor Coady and John Ruddy, Belgian star Leander Dendoncker and Portugal’s Euro 2016-winning 129-cap midfield maestro João Moutinho.
And that class told on 12 minutes when Vitinha picked the ball up just inside the Chorley half, glided forward and unleashed a dipping, swerving bullet of a shot from 35 yards that flew beyond helpless goalkeeper Matthew Unwin.
By that point, Chorley’s Elliot Newby had already chested down in the box and forced Ruddy into a save, while Willem Tomlinson had a couple of first-half sighters that went narrowly wide.
Wolves were unsurprisingly dominating possession but other than Patrick Cutrone smashing narrowly over the bar on the stroke of half time, they created very little and nearly conceded on the hour mark.
Tomlinson whipped a perfect corner into the box and defender Halls rose highest to power a header at goal, forcing Ruddy to react quickly and athletically tip the ball over the bar.
Connor Hall also had a couple of sights of goal in the second half but the Magpies couldn’t quite fashion another chance as good as Halls’ header and ultimately went down 1-0, despite restricting their Premier League opponents to that single Vitinha shot on target.
Hall promised that Chorley would still be singing Adele songs in the dressing room after the game – as they did in a video that went viral following the third-round victory over Derby – but it’s Wolves who will host either Southampton or Arsenal in the fifth round.