by Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 15th October 2022
Boro Rangers 4 v 0 Chester-le-Street United
The two teams plying their trades now in the NL Division 2 this season following their promotions met at Stokesley Sports Club the temporary home of Boro Rangers and both teams arrived on the back of good results.
United were unbeaten in five including three wins and a draw in the league which saw them comfortably in mid-table whilst Rangers had won six and drawn one of their last seven games, a run taking them to second in the league table.
United though were counting the cost of a heavy schedule with the academy games thrown into the mix and were without more than a full team of players from their squad. Not an excuse, a fact and by the end of 90 minutes it showed.
Rangers forced United back from the off and a mix-up between Thomas Cole and goalkeeper Mauro Asikaogu conceded a corner inside the first minute. The United defence recovering to clear the ball from the area.
Benji Shodeinde started well for United and looked as if he had the pace to cause the Boro defence problems. One early run saw him almost create a shooting chance, but Matty Lovatt came across well on the cover to clear.
United were then rocked by an early breakthrough as Rangers took the lead on 5 minutes. The home skipper Steven Keenan launched a long free kick into the Chester defence which was partially cleared.
Paul Blake hooked the ball back inside the area and Daniel Lofts was given all the time in the world completely unmarked to loop a header over Asikaogu and it dropped into the gaping net off the underside of the bar.
An early blow for Chester and Boro kicked on straight away and were well on top from the off. Ben Turner played Callum Hickman in on the left and he had acres of room to measure the cross but over-hit it from a great position.
Daniel Lofts then made a great run down the right crossing dangerously. Cole half cleared it, but it fell to Stuart Rose who laid it off to Turner whose shot was blocked by Dylan Wilkinson. The ball falling to Keenan who smashed a right-foot shot inches wide from just outside the box.
Rangers then forced two successive corners both taken by Blake, and both dealt with well by Asikaogu. The first punched away and the second take under pressure in front of several players.
United were having to ball the ball long to try and get any purchase in the game and almost got back into the game when Shodeinde picked up Cole's long clearance beating the offside trap.
Unfortunately, he couldn't control his lobbed volley from outside of the box which flew over Rangers' keeper Daniel Horner but cleared the cross bar as well.
Ryan Muldoon playing at right back advanced into the Rangers' half and hit a long cross towards the back post. It missed it's intended target, Shodeinde but only dropped a foot or so the wrong side of the post.
Jack Oliver then almost played Elliot McClen through on goal with a neat inside pass that saw Horner smartly off his line to cover and take the ball well before McClen had a chance to collect.
Shodeinde was ploughing a furrow that was causing the Ranger's defence issues and he was unceremoniously dumped by Lovatt he required length attention following the tackle. The referee taking no action as the United striker had wandered offside before the tackle.
Shodeinde did try to carry on, but it was obvious he was in some discomfort, and he was subsequently replaced by Harrison Tully with Sam Johnson having to carry the battle alone upfront.
Hickman then won a corner off Muldoon which Blake took and swung in dangerously right under the Chester bar but a combination of defenders and goalkeeper managed to scramble the ball clear.
Great interplay by Boro almost saw them double their lead as the half ticked on. Strong midfield play by Tom Bligh saw him find Rose on the edge of the box. The Centre Forward help up play before slipping Blake in on goal.
His shot was well struck from an angle, but Asikaogu had his near post covered well and got down to make a smart save. Lofts then played in Keenan on the right who advanced well before clipping a shot at goal that Asikaogu had to turn away.
Jack Ledger helped United try to counter finding space on the left before playing a good ball over the top towards Johnson but once again the Boro defence closed ranks well in cover and denied the United forward a strike at goal.
Boro skipper Keenan was certainly enjoying the space United were giving him and as he advanced from defence he was stopped well by Tully at the expense of a corner. Blake's kick was headed clear only to fall again to Keenan.
He whipped in a very dangerous cross that Asikaogu did well to claim in front of Rose. Rose should have done better moments later when well set-up by Lofts. But with only Asikaogu to beat he squandered an excellent chance dragging his 10-yard shot wide of the target.
Rangers were creating some great chances. The next one came when Hickman robbed Muldoon on the left playing it onto Turner who sent a great cross into the box. Rose flicked it on, and Lofts looked a certain scorer but hit the cross bar with his header from six yards.
The story of the game as it was unfolding was Chester time and again giving the ball away in dangerous places. The latest culprit being John Anderson who was dispossessed by Rose who found Lofts inside the box, but he lifted another good chance over the top from about 14 yards out.
The half ended not long later with United glad to hear the whistle go whilst Boro must have wondered how they were only one goal to the good.
United replaced Muldoon with Evan Gray at half time but the second opened as the first had ended with the only real surprise being that it took until the 53rd minute for the home side to double their lead. It was another goal that could have been avoided.
Hickman's low cross from the left went straight to Asikaogu but he fumbled the ball and it dropped to Lofts in front of goal. He unselfishly rolled it across the six-yard box to Rose who had the easiest of tasks to tap it home.
United were really up against it now and were battling to keep the rampant Rangers out. The resistance only lasted another ten minutes when Boro confirmed the destiny of the three points with their third.
Again, United could have dealt with the goal better. This time a deep cross to the back post by Keenan was misjudged by Gray. The ball fell to Rose who controlled it well before teeing up the onrushing Bligh who side-footed it easily past Asikaogu.
United tried to respond with Oliver's long ball almost releasing Anderson but Lovatt was again the more committed and conceded a corner. Anderson took it and found Wilkinson at the back post, but his header was well over.
United were then indebted to Asikaogu for a brilliant double save. Substitute Harry Williams played Rose clean through on goal, but Asikaogu did superbly to block the first effort. Cole should have cleared the rebound, but Lofts got in to take the ball off him before hitting a shot on the turn that the Chester keeper did brilliantly to block.
Chester were only attacking sporadically and when they did the home defence was on guard to clear. McClen played in Barndon Young after good progress down the left but once again it was Lovatt who was happy to concede a corner which hsi side cleared easily.
Lofts and Rose up top for Boro were causing United all sorts of problems and almost added a fourth for their side. Lofts playing a ball into Rose who held it up brilliantly before laying it back to Lofts who hit is first time from just inside the box and the ball went inches wide.
It was a temporary respite though as Rose did grab his second of the game on 78 minutes. Once again though it was a goal Chester will be disappointed with. Along ball out of defence from Rangers didn't appear to be of danger as Cole collected.
Asikaogu had come way out of his goal anticipating the ball but went wide to receive a pass from Cole instead. However, Cole turned in-field and promptly lost the ball to Rose who chipped it into the empty net from 25 yards out with Asikaogu stranded.
United did on two separate occasions almost grab what would have been a mere consolation goal. First Johnson battling gamely out of position managed to wriggle into the home box but then fired wide from a good position with only Horner to beat.
Gray robbed the ball off Phil Horsman and gave it to Johnson in the inside right channel. He looked up and rolled the ball across to Anderson, but his shot was weak and failed to trouble Horner.
It was to their credit that United's youngsters battled all the way to the final whistle, but Boro Rangers were always on top, looked the stronger and were well worth their win and the goals they scored.
For United it was a dramatic halt to a good run of form and results with Manager John Gamble having this to say as he took time to reflect on the game.
"I have to say it was a hard watch today, but the lads gave 100% which is the only thing we can ask for. We have done great over the last few games especially with losing players every game. But it's great to give players an opportunity at this level."
"Today wasn't about Boro Rangers being good. I thought like the rest of the League they were ok and deserved their win. We had too many players either not ready to play at that level or who didn't look good enough for that level."
"The positive I take is, if it ever happens, we might one game pick from what we consider our best team and then we can see where we are at. They will be ups and downs this season."
"But as I've said floodlights and forty points is our target and anything more will be a bonus."
TEAM : 1. Mauro Asikaogu 2. Ryan Muldoon 3. Jack Ledger 4. John Anderson 5. Thomas Cole 6. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 7. Sam Johnson 8. Jack Oliver 9.Benji Shodeinde 10. Brandon Young 11. Elliot McClen
SUBS : 12. Evan Gray (for Muldoon 46 mins) 14. Harrison Tully (for Shodeinde 31 mins) 15. Harry Laydon (for Ledger 63 minutes) 16. Alex Fil (not used)