Alfreton Town boss John McDermott admitted his side were beaten by the better team as they slipped to 14th in the Vanarama National League North after a 2-0 home defeat to Chorley.
“They have done their job really well,” he said. “They were good. l’ll have to give them credit — they were good in midfield and at the back.
“They passed the ball well, into feet and into bodies, and looked after it.
“Tey were strong and willing and bullying — something we lacked.
“We lacked that cutting edge up top — if l’m honest we were powder-puff . We’d have been here until eight o’clock tonight [before scoring].
The Reds started on a positive note, but were stunned by an audacious goal from virtually the half-way line by Nick Houghton in the 11th minute — and never seemed to recover their composure.
Houghton spotted keeper Chris Elliott off his line and executed his opportunity with spectacular precision.
Chorley squandered a great chance to double their lead in the 38th minute after debutant defender Steve Williams was lured into baulking Marcus Carver.
Elliott dived low to his right to save Josh Wilson’s penalty kick and the keep side in the game.
Less than a minute after half-time Chris Sharp found the net from a Ceiron Keane cross, but his goal was ruled out by a questionable offside decision.
However, after the visitors carved out several clear chances they finally added the killer second goal five minutes from time.
It was Houghton again who struck with a low drive after cutting in from the right.
At the other end there was a vital touch by visiting keeper Matt Urwin moments before the second goal, paddling away a deep Adam Smith cross as Williams waited at the back post, but generally there was little sparkle from the Reds.
McDermott added: “If you’re not going to be good at both ends of the park, forget the middle bit. You’re going to lose matches and we got beaten by a good team today.
“They could have more than two. It flattered us a bit and you’ve got to give them credit.
“If they were very, very good and we were very, very good then we’ve got a chance of getting something out of that game — l thought they were very, very good and we were okay.”
McDermott said Ryan Jennings was the only Reds player to show any spark for the home side.
ALFRETON: Elliott; Topliss, Shiels, Williams, Keane, Wood, Disley [Smith 65], Jennings, Daniels, Westcarr, Sharp [Robertson 65].
Other subs: Johnson, Etherington, Platt.
Referee: Ben Cooke.