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Away Day Delights Continue As Busy United Win Again

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 16th March 2024

Prudhoe Youth Club Seniors 0 v 2 Chester-le-Street United

A fourth game in seven days for busy United and that wasn't counting the fact that several of the team also played in midweek for Park View Academy. Resources were very much stretched to the limit as John Gamble made three changes.

Captain Dylan Wilkinson was the major omission having succumbed to a broken hand sustained less than 48 hours earlier against Jarrow. Influential midfielder Ryan O'Connor had aggravated an injury as well and missed out.

Ashton Houlahan having represented England Schoolboys on the Friday night was dropped down to the bench where he was joined by long-term injury victim Brandon Young back after several weeks out.

There were also call-ups from the Chester-le-Street United PV Wearside League side for Ben Glendinning and Dylan Robson to help supplement the bench as United looked to continue the fine away run they were on.

Jude Anderson, Michael Mallaburn and Dan Robinson all stepping into the starting XI and the latter two almost fashioned a superb start for United inside the first two minutes.

Mallaburn had an opening for a shot from an angle just outside the box but saw his effort charged down. The ball ricocheting to Robinson in a central position 20-yards from goal.

Robinson struck his shot beautifully only to see Matty Cassap in the Prudhoe goal dive full length to turn the effort away in brilliant style. An excellent save from the home side stopper.

Prudhoe replied with a deep throw-in by David Below that flicked off Ollie Barnett into the path of Craig Fairley just inside the box but he hit his shot straight at James Hughes who held on comfortably.

In the early going there was plenty of endeavour and commitment from both sides although the quality of end product was not matching both side's efforts.

Prudhoe did produce a good move when they worked the ball neatly from left to right. Darren Graham on the overlap played a 1-2 with Brad Mawston before getting to the by-line and cutting a dangerous ball back that Barnett did well to clear.

On 21 minutes Robinson fouled Ben Dibb-Fuller 25 yards out. The Prudhoe attacking midfielder got up to drive the free kick low towards the bottom left-hand corner where Hughes got across to save but fumbled the save.

He however reacted brilliantly and quickest to the loose ball hauling it back in just before the predatory Fairley pounced.

The from a long Mallaburn throw-in Micky Nelson who had gone forward for the set play did get above the home defence but unfortunately put his header well wide.

Mallinson then played a lovely ball to the left giving Mallaburn room to cross. His delivery into the box was excellent but Cassap did really well to claim the ball in front of Kobe Bewicke who was applying the pressure.

Graham and Mawston's combination play on the right looked like Prudhoe's best chance of creating something and when they combined again for Graham to cross, Hughes was very commanding when he came and claimed well.

A good attack from United involving Harvey Rudd twice almost brought them the opening goal. Rudd played a ball up to Anderson who returned it to Rudd making strides on the right before crossing into the middle.

Brad Rodgers headed clear and the ball fell to Robinson on the edge of the box and he lashed a half-volley instantly at goal which saw Cassap once again show his prowess with another superb diving save to keep it out.

Lee Blackburn then fouled Mallaburn in a central position 25-yards from goal. 'New' free-kick expert Nelson stepping up to take the kick but blasting it not far wide with Cassap watching it go past.

The last action of the half was Prudhoe's when Rudd tripped Mawston right on the edge of the United box. Ben Dibb-Fuller stepping up and hitting the free kick not only over the wall but just too high to trouble Hughes.

Goalless at the half and a pretty even game, United were forced into a change as the second half resumed with Young coming on for his long-awaited return from injury.

It was Prudhoe who showed first in the second 45. An excellent ball by Ben Dibb-Fuller putting Mawston into the box with a good chance. He hit his shot well but Hughes produced an excellent diving parry.

The ball falling to Freddie Marr on the edge of the box but his effort was well blocked by Barnett and then cleared deep and long by Nelson. The game was beginning to open up now as both sides pressed.

A 50/50 clash between Barnett and Graham was ruled in favour of the Prudhow skipper. Ben Dibb-Fuller clipping in a lovely delivery to pick out substitute Matty Law but he flashed his header wide from only 8-yards out.

Then Prudhoe showed a good counter attack when Mallaburn's fierce right-wing volleyed cross was claimed by Cassap who set his team away with a quick accurate throw out that saw the home side sweep down the field.

The ball eventually coming to Law whose cross became a shot and Hughes had to be alert to make a smart save showing good handling as he claimed the goal bound effort.

Once again it was Graham showing up well in attack for Prudhoe and he was really unlucky when picking the ball up inside the Chester box he twisted and turned before firing a left-foot shot from 14 yards inches over the bar.

Back came United with Jack Ledger finding Mallaburn well on the left. He in turn played a ball into the centre that was picked up by the advancing Reyhan Grimaud who unleashed a 25-yard effort that was only narrowly wide.

It felt like a goal was coming and it duly arrived on 70 minutes with United taking the lead with an excellent finish from Bewicke. Mallaburn's initial cross was headed out of the Prudhoe box but Grimaud won it well and nodded it back in.

In a very tight space and surrounded by defenders, Bewicke's first touch was excellent and set himself up for a 10-yard volley that he guided past Cassap's diving right-hand and into the corner of the net for his third goal in 3 games.

The goal certainly buoyed Chester who were now looking dangerous and forced two successive corners delivered by Mallaburn. They were in-swingers. The first finding Anderson at the back post but his close range header was blocked.

From the resulting corner this time Mallaburn's delivery had Cassap scrambling backwards but he and his defence were thankful to see the ball just drift over the bar and nestle on the top of the net and not in it.

But, it was third time lucky for United and Mallaburn on 80 minutes when another corner brought them a second goal. This time it was an out swinger delivered perfectly to the back post.

Nelson arriving late rose imperiously to meet the ball with a bullet header that was a goal from the moment it left his head and gave United the vital cushion they need for the last ten minutes or so.

United used that cushion superbly managing the game through the closing minutes without letting Prudhoe create another worthwhile opportunity. The work rate on and off the ball and closing down exemplary as the took a vital 3 points.

A really excellent result for United and once again on the road. They may not yet be mathematically safe but this result will go along way to ensuring Ebac Northern League Division 2 football for another season.

TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Harvey Rudd 3. Jack Ledger 4. Dan Robinson 5. Ollie Barnett 6. Micky Nelson (c) 7. Michael Mallaburn 8. Reyhan Grimaud 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Jude Anderson 11. Jacob Mallinson

SUBS : 12. Brandon Young (for Mallinson 46 mins) 14. Dylan Robson - DNP 15. Ben Glendinning - DNP 16. Ashton Houlahan - DNP

SCORERS : Bewicke 70 mins, Nelson 80 mins.

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