by Jeff King
Durham County Trophy – Preliminary Round
Silksworth Colliery Welfare 3 v 3 Chester-Le-Street United
Chester-Le-Street Win 4 – 2 On Penalties
n the aftermath of a game described as “a perfect cup-tie for the neutral,” it was United that prevailed in a dramatic penalty shoot-out with goalkeeper Arthur Leblond the hero making two saves to help send his side through.
Perhaps he shouldn’t have been needed. United had led 3 – 1 going into injury time but the game’s not over until the referee’s final whistle. The home side somehow mustered the character and dogged determination to score not just once but twice to force the penalty contest.
It was dramatic stuff indeed on a day when summer finally seemed to end and the game was played in a windy, rainy atmosphere on a big pitch which held up well under the conditions. The home side had chosen to kick down the slight slope with the wind as the game got underway.
It seemed like a sensible decision as they were on the front-foot from the off and forced United backwards. An early free-kick from Brad Wilson causing concern in the United box being eventually cleared by Jaden Timmis.
Chester did force the first corner of the game inside five minutes after Ebenezer Adoo did well to collect Josh Crews long cross-field ball and force Nathan Readman to concede the kick. Jak McKinley’s delivery was poor though drifting straight out of play.
The home side then went close on successive corners. The first was a short corner to Jordan Dagg who’s excellent cross found Reece Blakey and he headed it on target but it was deflected for another corner. Chester only half cleared that one and Wilson drove an effort over from just outside box.
On 14 minutes it was almost 1 – 0 to Silksworth. Nice set-up play gave Wilson the chance to hit a great 18-yard effort that looked destined for the back of the net until a great diving effort from United keeper Arthur Leblond who’s outstretched hand turned the effort around the post.
Silksworth continued to press and Chris Thompson got into a good shooting position but Crews got across to block and the ball looped harmlessly into the arms of Leblond. The home side had certainly started the brighter and it was 24 minutes before Chester threatened.
Good link-up play on the left saw Cameron Brewis combine well with Lewis Lembikisa to hit a low left wing cross that home keeper Jamie Chappell did well to dive and cut out in front of Ricardo Pereira.
Silksworth then swung forward and good build-up found Dagg unmarked in the box. The home player turned looking to strike at goal but was denied by a good challenge by George Riley. Chester then began to impose themselves on the game and midfielder Jak McKinley in particular came to the fore.
On the half-hour Brewis was fouled centrally 20 yards from goal. McKinley stepped up and curled a great effort around the wall that drew a brilliant diving parry to keep his side level from Chappell.
Then it was Adoo who created a chance for McKinley and again he was denied by an excellent low diving save who did extremely well to turn the drive away to safety. McKinley then got on the end of a flowing United move.
Great holdup play from Pereira saw him find Brewis who split the defence with an incisive pass to McKinley who was free inside the box. But just as the United schemer took aim the ball bobbled and he lifted it over from an excellent position.
Timmis playing in central midfield for United was next to try his luck and unleashed a rocket of a shot from fully 30-yards but Chappell was well positioned to take the ball cleanly as it fizzed into his midriff.
It was no surprise after a very forceful period of pressure that Chester did go ahead on 37 minutes. It was also no surprise that McKinley was the scorer. Timmis found Pereira who played a great reverse pass into the path of McKinley who slid it home past a despairing Chappell.
Three minutes later it was 2 – 0. A magnificent through ball from Ryan Muldoon send Adoo away clear on goal and as Chappell advanced to meet him the wide man coolly slotted the ball into the far corner for his first senior goal for United.
It was almost three just before half-time when Pereira turned superbly past his marker inside the box but was denied by a great block from Chappell. It was the last action of the half that had seen Silksworth start well but not taken their chances whilst Chester finished well and did take theirs.
Chester had the first good chance of the resumption when Riley played the ball wide to Lembikisa who flew down the left leaving Readman in his wake. He put a lovely cross in picking out Brewis inside the box but the striker didn’t control the ball well enough and fired over.
Wilson then responded for the home side by finding Josh Winthrop who hit a smart cross shot past Leblond but also just wide of the far post. Chester again on 56 minutes almost went further ahead when Lembikisa’s curling effort after being found well by Timmis came back off the post.
Chester then had a goal correctly disallowed for offside. Crews driving forward on the left was fouled. Brewis swung in the free-kick to find Muldoon who saw his shot deflected to Crews who drove it home but he was in an offside position.
Brewis was prompting and probing for United dropping deep off the front line and causing problems. He once again found space and put Lembikisa through on goal but the finish was weak and straight at Chappell.
On 77 minutes after battling and staying within sight of United, Silksworth hit back. Leblond took a cross from Dagg well but appeared to be impeded as he came down. No foul was given and play was not halted until the referee decided Leblond had wandered outside his area and gave a free-kick for handball.
Liam Mulvain took full advantage by stepping up and smashing the ball past the ill-formed well and into the bottom corner with Leblond unable to get across to stop it. It was game on for the next ten minutes or so as the home side pressed hard looking for an equaliser.
United countered by trying to catch Silksworth on the break and thought they’d made the game safe with three minutes left on the clock.
A ball was played up to the lively Brewis who once again help it up well before slipping substitute Abdullah Alawahdi through on goal and the Kuwaiti Under-19 international finished coolly off the far post from 12 yards to restore Chester’s two-goal advantage.
You would have been forgiven for thinking that was game over especially as it went into injury time with the same score line. But that was not taking into account the determination and fortitude of a Silksworth side that just wouldn’t lie down or go away and kept pressing.
They got the ball into the Chester box one more time and when United failed to clear their lines Mulvain was on hand to lash the ball home from close range to give his side one last chance of saving the game and they duly took it with virtually the last kick of the game.
Chester conceded a free-kick on the right level with the 18-yard-line and the ball was put into the danger area. Once again United failed to clear their lines well enough from a set play and the ball fell to home substitute Mason Burynan who flicked it home with the outside of his left foot.
A dramatic comeback indeed and with barely time for United to kick-off the game went straight to a penalty shoot-out. Silksworth went first and skipper Josh Perry saw his kick well saved by Leblond diving to his right. Timmis stepped up for United put his laces through it and it was 0 – 1.
Mulvain was next and the two-goal 90 minute hero made no mistake from the spot. Next for Chester was Muldoon who produced the “Jorginho” run up before planting his shot past Chappell. 1 – 2 which became 2 – 2 when Dagg beat Leblond comfortably.
It was still though advantage Chester as Chappell couldn’t prevent Brewis from making it 2 – 3. Next on the spot was last-gasp equalising hero Burnyan but this time he couldn’t draw the team’s level.
His effort low to Leblond’s left-hand saw the United keeper produce a brilliant one-handed save to put his side right in the box seat.
The victory was sealed by new signing and Chester substitute Jack Mortimer who coolly converted his spot-kick to take United through 4 – 2 on penalties in a dramatic finale to a well-fought Cup-Tie.
Chester might feel they’ve dodged a bullet after Silksworth dramatic comeback whilst the hosts were probably kicking themselves after hauling themselves back in the game and taking momentum into the shoot-out but for the fourth time this season there was little between the two sides.
Chester are next in action this coming Saturday when they visit Annfield Plain for the second time this season this time in the first round of the Alan Hood Charity Cup, a competition where United are the current holders.