Storm Dennis couldn’t quite manage to take the headlines at the Kuflink Stadium – perhaps they should have called it David.
And it was Fleet goalkeeper David Gregory who took the plaudits, not only for a late penalty save but for an even later outstretched leg that helped deliver the three points his side so desperately needed.
The nail-biting finish was at odds with much of the rest of the game that suffered from the terrible weather conditions but Jack King’s 56th minute goal edged the Fleet ahead and they withstood everything the storm and Chorley threw at them.
Kevin Watson made four changes after last week’s FA Trophy exit, bringing back Adam Mekki, Josh Payne, Andre Blackman and John Goddard as Josh Umerah, Jamie Grimes, Jermaine McGlashan and Tomi Adeloye made way.
And straight from the kick-off it was clear it would be a weather-affected game, the ball rolling off the centre-spot as Chorley’s Alex Newby waited for the whistle.
Although the rain and wind never quite whipped up the frenzy that Storm Dennis was supposed to bring, it clearly made for troublesome circumstances. Chorley enjoyed the wind their way as Fleet opted to attack the Plough End in the first half, but neither side could really judge the flight of long balls as they swirled and held up in the air.
And with the surface bumpy and sticky, any balls along the floor trundled rather than skipped across the grass, making any pass something of a lottery.
As such, the players were unsurprisingly reluctant to take any risks and it affected the spectacle for the brave 712 spectators.
King was the first player to fall foul of the blustery wind, however, as he misjudged a ball forward to Marcus Carver but as the Chorley man homed in on goal, the skipper recovered the situation.
Fleet’s first venture forward came courtesy of Frankie Sutherland on five minutes and his shot was probably going wide but Matt Urwin still went full-length to push it wide.
Jake Cottrell pulled a shot wide through a crowd of players but those early chances aside, the rest of the first half faded away as a contest. There were occasional good passing moves, Sutherland and Ugwu finding Lawrie Wilson out wide and his cross went for a corner.
Mekki tried manfully to unlock things down the middle and behind him Payne attempted to mix up the play in midfield to find a tactic that would work, but it was hard going for the players.
Chorley showed intent in getting the ball from midfield to their front men but struggled to trouble Gregory whose only save of note was from a deep free-kick that bounced in front of him. At the other end, Urwin kept out Goddard’s effort after he was played in by Ugwu in Fleet’s only real incisive move of the half.
The promised 4pm storm conditions held off enough for the game to resume after the break and Fleet fans were out of their seats two minutes in when Sutherland’s corner caught the wind and bent back out to Mekki whose hooked shot flew wide.
At the other end, Carver zipped beyond the Fleet back line with a heavy suspicion of offside but as the ball came back in from Newby, the front man couldn’t trap the return and Fleet survived.
Carver should have put the visitors in front on 52 minutes when King’s back pass stuck in the grass and the Chorley man surged through, his shot well blocked by Gregory who was then relieved to see the follow-up deflected behind.
From that let-off came Fleet’s winner. On 56 minutes, Sutherland’s free-kick was floated into the Chorley box and King, having survived a dicey situation at one end, struck at the other to guide the ball into the net.
Stung by an unlikely goal given the dearth of chances to that point, Chorley shifted up a gear. Carver planted a shot wide of Gregory’s far post on 65 minutes and Ayo Obileye had to be on his game as he got a foot in on the same striker’s run and low cross with Alex Kiwomya lurking.
The big defender and Sutherland managed to hack away a Scott Duxbury corner and effort from Kiwomya that whipped into the six-yard box before Payne got a final kick on it as the visitors came within a whisker of an equaliser.
Both sides threw on their maximum allocation of subs as Fleet looked to have weathered both storms – but with less than two minutes remaining, Chorley were handed a lifeline.
A ball from midfield was guided behind Fleet’s back line and as Kiwomya looked to run wide of Gregory, the Fleet keeper came across him and the little contact – which appeared to be outside the box – was enough to fell the substitute and the referee pointed to the spot.
The groans from Fleet fans were familiar as Gregory faced up to Alex Newby – Chorley’s best player on the day. His penalty wasn’t bad but Gregory guessed it was going to his right and got a fine hand on it to loop the ball up and away from the target.
Ironically, Fleet might have extended their lead as the ball was played quickly upfield and McGlashan hared away with it but the counterattack broke down.
Still Chorley pressed as five minutes were added; Carver’s overhead kick was off-target but fortunately didn’t catch the wind before Matt Challoner’s snapshot from the edge of the box looked to be a surefire equaliser but Gregory’s quick reactions were again crucial, his outstretched leg enough to send it wide of the goal.
Chorley’s final effort didn’t need the intervention of the Fleet keeper but the nervous home supporters were glad to see that one whip wide as well before the final whistle was sounded.
EUFC: Gregory, Ekpiteta, King, Obileye (Grimes 86), Wilson, Blackman, Sutherland, Payne, Goddard (McGlashan 70), Mekki, Ugwu (Adeloye 80). Subs not used: Umerah, Holmes
CFC: Urwin, Challoner, Duxbury, Kay (E Newby 75), Meppen-Walter, Smith, Cottrell (Kiwomya 63), O’Keefe (Nortey 85), Ross, A Newby, Carver. Subs not used: Blakeman, Baines