by Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Friday 17th November 2023
Easington Colliery 5 v 0 Chester-le-Street United
A desperately disappointing night on the Durham coast ended in an awful second heaviest defeat of the season and a 13th defeat of the campaign. It's now September 23rd since United last won a game and September 26th since they last scored in the League.
This was their fourth league defeat in a row. A run that sees United having now gone six games with only 1 point picked up. It all leaves Chester well ensconced in the bottom three with plenty of work to do if they want to climb out of the danger zone.
Some of that work may include changes in personnel with United looking to strengthen the squad if possible before they run out in The Northern League again. One thing's for sure, whatever happens they need to halt the slide soon.
Yet for 45 minutes no-one probably would have seen this result and score line coming. United more than held their own in the first half on a tricky sticky difficult surface and possible even shaded the first half.
Crucially they lost both forward players through injury before the second half began and that perhaps turned the game in Colliery's favour as they certainly found more space to put pressure on in the second 45 minutes.
They used that space and pressure to devastating effect as United completely capitulated on a night all connected with The Club would prefer to forget despite some promise early on.
United actually had the first opportunity of the game when home keeper Antony Lowerson rolled the ball out to centre back Brad Forster. Forster completely missed his clearing effort and the ball fell to Kobe Bewicke but his effort lacked the power to trouble Lowerson.
Chester then gave the ball away in midfield cheaply allowing Matthew Weirs to setup Easington skipper Dylan Elliott for a shooting chance just outside the area. Elliott hit his shot well but it was always rising and flew over the bar.
Charlie Loveday then showed enterprise for United bursting forward from midfield carrying the ball well up to the edge of the box but again his effort lacked the venom to trouble Lowerson in the Colliery goal.
Despite the pitch it was an entertaining even game switching from side to side. Easington having the next opening after some good play. Elliot nicked a ball off Ryan O'Connor in midfield and played a nice pass wide right to Callum Stanton.
His right wing cross was well delivered and James Fairley got across the United defence to flick a neat header goal wards but Keiran Harwood was well paced to save the effort.
An excellent break from his own back line by Harvey Rudd almost set up a goal scoring chance for Jude Anderson. Rudd driving forward before sliding a pass through in Anderson's direction only for Andrew Nelson to come across and make a vital interception.
United's Loveday and Reyhan Grimaud then combined well on the right for Grimaud to fire a dangerous ball across the face of the home defence. No-one was there to get a vital touch but Jack Ledger gathered the loose ball on the other side.
His cross caused a scramble in the centre of the Easington box with the ball falling to Bewicke who's first time effort was deflected over the bar by Forster. United failing to create any danger with Harry Laydon's corner.
On 37 minutes United lost the services of Anderson and he was replaced by Michael Mallaburn. Mallaburn's first contribution was to win a free kick as he was fouled by Josh Barnett about five yards outside the penalty area.
Laydon given the green light by the referee spotted Lowerson not centrally placed and tried a cheeky quick curler from the distance but didn't connect properly and the ball flew well wide.
Neat play from O'Connor found Mallburn in space on the left hand side. he played a nice square ball into the path of United skipper Dylan Wilkinson but his 25-yarder was well over the top.
Just before half-time a good passing combination involving O'Connor, Laydon and Mallaburn saw Mallaburn finding the advancing Ledger who hit his shot well but it deflected to safety off Reece Kenney who got in a brave block.
So, all square at the half and goalless with United more than in the game at this stage and with everything to play for in the second half.
As United took the field for the final 45 minutes they'd been forced into another change with Bewicke being replaced by Dan Walton. United had little chance to bed the substitute in before falling behind to a soft goal on 47 minutes.
Colliery had brought Jay Roper on at half-time and he was fouled on the left hand side of the pitch by Grimaud as he tried to go clear. Fairley delivered the ball deep into the United area and it deflected off a United defender.
The ball fell fortunately to Barnett about 8-yards out and although his left foot effort wasn't brilliantly struck it had enough pace and direction to beat the static Harwood and put the home side in front.
Buoyed by the goal the whole emphasis of the game seemed to change. Chris Trewick setting up Elliott who's incisive strike save Harwood down to block. Grimaud was first to the loose ball just in front of Roper and conceded a corner.
It led to Easington going two-up within five minutes of the restart. United didn't switch on as Colliery took a quick short corner. Fairley playing it to the unmarked Kenney who had time and space to return the ball back.
Fairley was not closed down and stood up a cross to the back post where Nelson showed a greater commitment and desire inside the six-yard box to get his header on target. Again not the cleanest connection but somehow it found it's way into the bottom of the United net.
Two goals in front and the effect was significant as Colliery poured forward at every opportunity and United were on the back foot and under extreme pressure. The dangerous Fairley driving a crisp 20-yarder just wide of the post with Harwood beaten.
United were being sloppy in possession as well and when Laydon gave a ball away in a dangerous area to Kenney he carried it right to the edge of the Chester box before again driving it narrowly wide of the target.
United's reposte saw Walton find Wilkinson in the inside right channel but his well-struck 20-yard effort flew just wide of Lowerson's near post. Then great play by Loveday put Grimaud in on the right side of the box.
The Chester defender did well as he advanced and slid the ball past the diving Lowerson only to see Barnett anticipate brilliantly covering behind to slide the ball to safety from virtually his own goal line.
But it was only a temporary blip for a home side now looking world's apart from a United side that fell further behind with another goal created by Fairley that United once again didn't defend well on 70 minutes.
This time Fairley rounded Grimaud on the left and sped away. With no covering defender coming across to halt his progress he got almost to the by-line before picking out unmarked substitute Dennis Tapping who had the simple task of heading home from close range.
United were now in disarray and fell further behind four minutes later. Roper had looked really lively since coming on and was causing all sorts of problems for the United defence and Grimaud in particular.
Creating another great opening he crossed from the left dangerously into the Chester box. The ball appeared to be handled by Emanuel Igiehon and a big penalty shout went up.
However, Weirs didn't wait for the decision and as the ball dropped was onto it i a flash and finished positively from 8-yards out with the United defence once again standing still.
On 79 minutes Easington went 5 - 0 up ending the scoring in a devastatingly second half onslaught. This time depending on your point of view it was either a great solo goal from Roper or another one United could have avoided.
Roper skipping around Rudd on the left wing and cutting in towards goal. With Grimaud falling to get across to cut off the danger the speedy wide man closing in on Harwood before firing the ball virtually through the Keeper's arms.
The last ten minutes flashed by with barely a murmur of retaliation from United. Indeed inside injury-time Roper almost netted his second and his side's sixth with a lovely effort from about 16 yards that smacked back off the post with Harwood well beaten.
For United it was another night when honest endeavour and application was completely outdone by poor almost invisible defending, a lack of physical desire and little or no streetwise savvy.
Easington simply showed more desire, fight, togetherness and a willingness to support and encourage each other. Once they got in front there was no doubting where the deserved three points were heading.
TEAM : 1. Kieran Harwood 2. Reyhan Grimaud 3. Jack Ledger 4. Harvey Rudd 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Emanuel Igiehon 7. Charlie Loveday 8. Harry Laydon 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Ryan O'Connor 11. Jude Anderson
SUBS : 12. Michael Mallaburn (for Anderson 37 mins) 14. Dan Walton (for Bewicke 46 mins) 15. Kymani Severin (for O'Connor 67 mins) 16. Harry Marr (for Laydon 82 mins) 17. Joe Sykes (for Grimaud 82 mins)