by Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 14th October 2023
Chester-le-Street United 0 v 1 Yarm & Eaglescliffe FC
Another day, another home league game, another defeat. It's becoming a trend that United need to change. Once again they were in the game for the full 90 minutes but couldn't find a way to open up a resolute physical solid Yarm defence.
The win took Yarm into sixth place in the League and they thoroughly deserved their three points. They didn't afford United any leeway or much space throughout the game and in their rookie NL season continue to grind out significant results.
The same could not be said of United who are really struggling near the foot of the table and need to keep working and believing they have enough to pull away from their lowly position.
To do so they need that magic formula that all side's need. A way to find someone or someway to create the chances to net the goals that are needed to win games at this level.
In truth they are very solid for virtually all the time at the back. They compete and show signs of ability in midfield but in the final third it's a different story. This game really highlighting this as they didn't have a single strike in anger on target in the game.
United gave a debut to 16-year-old Kymani Severin a wide right attacking midfielder and continued with the experiment of Captain Dylan Wilkinson as a holding midfielder.
But they were still missing first team regulars like Brandon Young, Charlie Loveday and top scorer Ethan Gray as the match got underway and United almost produced a sensational star thanks to the skills of young Severin.
Inside the first 20 seconds of the game Ryan O'Connor found Severin wide on the right with a lovely pass. The youngster showed great trickery and pace to leave Arthur Connelly for dead.
Looking up he fired an excellent dangerous ball across the face of the Yarm goal but no-one in a Gold shirt for United gambled or showed attacking instincts and the ball flew to safety when all it needed was the simple touch it invited.
Yarm's first attack saw a ball from the back almost catch the United defence out but Emanuel Igihon showed good pace and awareness to stop Haani Rahman's run at the expense of a corner that United cleared well.
Harvey Rudd then produced a neat ball down the Yarm left that Dan Robinson ran onto brilliantly before finding Harry Laydon he crossed to the far post where Reyhan Grimaud was waiting but Ross Harrison got in well to clear the danger.
The visitor's approach play was direct but already effective. A long throw-in from Jack Dalton being flicked on by their giant Captain Cameron Wild and finding Alex Dougall. He turned inside his marker but didn't get any power into his shot and James Hughes saved easily.
Then from a free-kick Wild won another header this time nodding it down into the path of Joseph Dalton who miskicked at a vital time. The ball though falling to Rahman who saw his close range effort brilliantly blocked by Wilkinson.
United wasted a glorious chance on a counter attack that should have seen them test the Yarm defence. Laydon winning a ball just inside his own half before finding Grimaud and suddenly United were two-on-one and with loads of space.
Unfortunately Laydon with so much time mistimed his run and strayed offside as Grimaud slipped the ball through for what would have been a clear run on goal with no-one near him.
Back came Yarm and Rahman held the ball up well in midfield before releasing Dougall on the right. His dangerous cross was inches too high high for the stretching Josh Larkin at the far post who had lost his marker.
Another Donnelly long throw caused issues in the United box. Hughes calling for the ball but not getting to it as he clattered into Dalton who's flick header was cleared off the line by Jack Ledger.
Yarm wanted a penalty but the referee deemed it an accidental collision and awarded a corner instead with Dalton off the pitch alongside United's goal after receiving lengthy treatment.
Rahman's in-swinging corner was headed clear by Rudd by volleyed back in to the area by Donnelly. The ball fell to Dalton who had come back on the pitch following Rudd's clearance and despite him looking yards offside he controlled and rolled it past Hughes from inside the six-yard box to give the visitor's the lead.
The goal looked harsh on United particularly as the Assistant had followed the ball out of the box and wasn't in-line with the play but the officials consulted and decided that the goal should stand and after 21 minutes it was 1 - 0to Yarm.
That should have been 2 - 0 almost straight afterwards with United conceding possession and a great cross from the left finding Rahman inside the six-yard box completely unmarked but from 4 yards out he somehow volleyed wide.
When United did venture forward the Yarm defence was very, very solid indeed. Severin winning a corner off Donnelly that Laydon delivered but Wild cleared. Wilkinson picked up the loose ball but as he tried to work an opening for a shot he was crowded out by great Yarm defending.
O'Connor then brought Severin into the game again and the wide man's incisive through ball looked to have given Grimaud a chance but Will Lawrence was quickly off his line to claim the ball in front of United's #9.
Laydon then gave Ledger a chance on the left with a ball that opened up the visiting defence for the full back. Ledger though scuffed his 20-yard effort which bobbled through to Lawrence who collected it easily.
The last opening of a largely chance-free half fell United's way. Robinson's right wing cross was precise and Grimaud was in space but somehow failed to get a decisive header on goal from a great position.
A controversial goal but one that stood was all that separated both sides as the half-time whistle went. Neither side had really created a great deal with defences on top and both attacks well stifled.
Yarm started the second half very much in the ascendency and from another Donnelly long throw which United didn't deal with initially Rahman had an 8-yard shot that United's defence did do well to recover for and block.
The visitor's then forced three consecutive corners in a very short space of time with Rahman the taker. The last of the three finding Dougall pulling away at the far post but on the stretch he could only head wide of the target.
United at this stage were defending well but were not looking like creating anything at the other end as poor passing on a difficult surface was letting them down when they did try to break.
They were almost caught out as well when Stephen Jackson took a quick free-kick just inside the United half and sent Donnelly away down the left. He galloped into the United box before sliding his effort past Hughes in the United goal.
Igiehon though was well placed behind his keeper to keep the score at 1 - 0 with an excellent covering block and clearance as the ball looked destined for the net.
One of United's best moves saw them produce some lovely football across the middle of the park involving Laydon, O'Connor and Grimaud who played the final ball to Robinson on the right wing.
As United's players attacked the space in the box they could only watch and wonder as Robinson's cross was too heavy and long and drifted well over the Yarm bar summing up that lack of a cutting edge.
United made two substitutions with Michael Mallaburn coming on for Severin and Harry Marr for Grimaud as they switched to a back three and looked to push more players forward.
It almost worked with 15 minutes to play. Rudd finding Mallaburn with a good pass on the right and then Mallaburn doing superbly to time the pass to coincide with Jude Anderson's run that beat the offside trap.
Anderson burst away from Wild and was clear in on goal but as he entered the box with only Lawrence in front of him he pulled his shot so far wide of the target that it actually went out for a throw-in on the opposite side of the pitch.
United made two further changes with Ben Glendinning and Joe Walls coming on for O'Connor and Ledger as time ticked down. Yarm weren't really causing United any further issues but equally were looking very comfortable in holding Chester.
Time ticked by without any real further chances being created by either side although deep into injury time United almost opened up the Yarm defence for a final chance. Walls was fouled on the left giving Glendinning a chance for a free-kick.
He delivered well and saw Wilkinson just beaten to the ball by a brave diving interception by Lawrence who crashed into Wilkinson whilst making the save. A good piece of goal-keeping from a player that hadn't really been troubled all game.
The final whistle came as a relief for the visitor's who took all three points in a close encounter which lacked a lot of quality and incident on a pitch that made free-flowing football hard to produce.
Yarm though won't and didn't care as they looked solid throughout and looked as if they were comfortable in dealing with anything united could throw at them. United were not convincing at all and need to look once again to find answers.
TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Dan Robinson 3. Jack Ledger 4. Harvey Rudd 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Emanuel Igiehon 7. Jude Anderson 8. Harry Laydon 9. Reyhan Grimaud 10. Ryan O'Connor 11. Kymani Severin
SUBS : 12. Harry Marr (for Grimaud 73 mins) 14. Michael Mallaburn (for Severin 68 mins) 15. Ben Glendinning (for O'Connor 78 mins) 16. Joe Walls (for Ledger 81 mins) 17. Joseph Sykes - DNP