Ebac Northern League Division Two - Saturday 30th July 2022
Chester-le-Street Town 0 v 3 Chester-le-Street United
by Jeff King
It's fair to say there was a sharp intake of breath across The Ebac Northern League Division Two clubs when the 2022/23 fixtures were announced. The opening weekend of the season pitted Town v United in an huge derby clash.
A much anticipated game saw United field a side for their first-ever game in the Ebac Northern League Division two encounter that did not contain a player over the age of 19. One wonders if it was the youngest ever starting line-up in the illustrious and historic League's history.
Three 19 year-olds, Five 18 year-olds and three 17 year-olds including Goal Keeper Matty Pattison ran out to open United's Northern League history. Yet despite those ages Pattison was one of only four making first-team debuts in an official fixture.
Perhaps the inexperience of youth or the thought of what might have been to come contributed to a slow start by United as they almost fell behind inside the first two minutes.
Cameron Nichol's reverse ball saw a neat header from Josh Akal put Owen Henderson away on the right. The wide man advanced into the United box before firing a cross shot that was going wide and George Pinder sliding in at the back post couldn't get enough contact to turn it home.
United's first reposte was Captain Taylor Campbell with a free-kick won by Benji Shodeinde who was pushed in the back by Danny Hepplewhite. Campbell floated it into the box towards the danger zone but Alfie Gordon came off his line well to claim the ball.
Town on the attack early forced a corner that Ryan Muldoon did well to clear the ball going up to Shodeinde who hit a lovely diagonal ball to the right for Alex Fil. The wing-back tried to find Shodeinde at the back post but his well intentioned cross went behind for a goal kick.
Town were looking sharp early doors and almost opened the scoring on eight minutes. This time Nichol crossed to the back post where Pinder got up well to direct an 8-yard header at goal that Pattison was in the right place to gather easily.
Pattison cleared his lines a few minutes later with a long goal kick that Jay Gibson flicked on for Shodeinde to race after but Gordon came off his line quickly and cleared the danger.
United were now starting to get into their stride playing good passing football as they looked to open the Town defence. They pushed and probed and were starting to assert themselves winning a corner on the right. Campbell's delivery was cleared at the expense of a throw-in.
Thomas Cole threw it into the box looking for Shodeinde but Charlie Armin came across well to dispossess the lively United striker before he could carve out a shooting chance.
Town were getting some joy down the flanks and when Nichol found Pinder on the left the centre forward fizzed a dangerous ball across the box that was too long for Akal and Henderson and was cleared by Dylan Wilkinson.
Town were trying to get the ball quickly at every opportunity whilst United were more circumspect playing some neat football and pressing really well. This led to the breakthrough on 36 minutes.
Gibson closed Gordon down well in the Town area. The keeper did get there first but his clearance only fell to Lee McMahon who tried to chest it into the path of Armin to clear but the defender could only slice the ball straight at Gibson.
He did well initially to control the bouncing ball and then slipping past Armin as he advanced towards the six-yard box at angle which gave him a great chance. Gibson took it in style angling it past Gordon and into the bottom corner of the netting.
A lovely confirmed and controlled effort that was well displayed. Three minutes later it was 2 - 0 Gibson was fouled on the left about 40 yards from goal. Set-piece expert Campbell floated a great inviting ball into the box .
Keallan Huddleston (pictured) read the flight perfectly running past two defenders into space before planting his 8-yard header into an empty net as the stranded Gordon stood in no-mans-land and doubled United's advantage.
United were well on top now and very comfortable in possession of the ball as they stretched the Town defence and midfield at every opportunity. The maturity of their football and attitude going way beyond their tender years.
They almost went into the changing room with a three-goal advantage with what would have been an early goal of the season contender had it gone in. Ethan Gray's throw-in was flicked on by Gibson to Shodeinde.
He rolled his defender before playing the ball invitingly into the path of the onrushing Ryan O'Connor who met it first time from 20 yards. His thunderous right foot shot flew past the diving Gordon but cannoned back into play of the inside of the post.
It meant United had to settle for a well-deserved two - nil advantage as the referee blew for half-time and the teams trooped off to the changing rooms.
You felt Town had to start quickly in the second half and try not to allow United to get back into their possession passing game if they were to get back into the game. The home side did replace goalkeeper Gordon with Chris Rookes as the second 45 minutes got underway.
Town did create the better of the chances in the early going but to no avail. First an Armin free-kick swung in from the left was met by Hepplewhite who headed wide from a good position.
Then good play by Armin saw him find Nichol who passed down the right to find Henderson. he got to the by-line before pulling the ball back into the path of Pinder who saw his effort well-blocked by Huddleston.
United though were not quiet for long and made it three - nil on 56 minutes. Campbell played a little ball into the pocket to find Ryan Muldoon. The hard-working midfielder then produced a brilliant run that took him past two defenders as he burst into the box.
Just as he was about to pull the trigger Armin slid in and knocked the ball away from him and his keeper. Unfortunately for the defender the ball rolled free into the path of Shodeinde who rolled it home from 8-yards out.
A goal richly deserved for Shodeinde who had run his socks off and continued to do so for the rest of the game in a display of front running that always had his opponents on their heels.
United made their first substitution shortly after the goal with Sam Johnson coming on from Gray who'd done really well to get 60 minutes under his belt after a five month lay-off.
The next chance again fell to Shodeinde. This time an Alex Fil throw-in was allowed to bounce inside the Town box and Gibson on the by-line headed it back towards Shodeinde. He managed to get his header on target but Rookes saved easily.
With 20 minutes to go there was a passage of play from United that had the whole ground applauding in appreciation. Campbell instigated it by winning the ball and then orchestrating a brilliant 14-pass move that almost carved the Town defence apart.
Receiving from O'Connor, the ball flashed from Campbell through Cole, Fil, O'Connor again back to Fil into Cole back to Campbell onto Huddleston who found Gibson.
He played a great one-two with Cole before reversing a ball to Shodeinde who looked as if he was in on goal only for Armin to get across and clear the ball with a last-ditch interception. It was breath taking football that drew lots of deserved applause.
Campbell though blotted his copybook earning the only yellow card of a well contested fair game by pulling back Akal as he tried to go clear. The Captain taking one for the team.
Town moved forward with the quickly taken free-kick by Akal only for Henderson to have been adjudged to have fallen foul of Johnson's tackle. McMahon whipped in the free-kick from wide on the right.
Hepplewhite got in a point-blank header inside the six-yard box that Pattison did brilliantly to block with his outstretched leg with Huddleston clearing his lines. United looking determined to keep a clean sheet.
The corner was cleared only to McMahon who crossed dangerously towards Pinder but Pattison came flying through traffic to punch clear. McMahon then almost turned from hero to villain.
After breaking up a United attack he skipped nicely away from two markers then inexplicitly turned the ball back to his goalkeeper but under hit the pass by a distance. Shodeinde was on it in a flash.
It looked a great chance as he cut in on an angle but he saw Rookes spread himself really well to turn the goal bound effort aside. Huddleston met Campbell's resultant corner but couldn't keep his header down and it flew over the top.
At the other end Pattison was clearly determined to keep his clean sheet. PInder turned well inside the box and fired a speculative effort high into the air which Pattison claimed well under pressure.
United ended the game on the front foot where they'd been since very early in the first half. Campbell winning the ball well before sliding in Fil on the right. Fil powered towards goal and then cut an almost perfect ball back that just evaded the onrushing Shodeinde.
The referee's whistle blew for no-side a couple of minutes later leaving United with three goals, three points and a clean sheet. It had been a remarkable display of possession, calm, excellent passing and maturity beyond their years for the United youngsters.
Town could have no complaints. They battled hard and tried to push United back when they could but the United defence stood firm played the ball out to their tidy, efficient and hard-working midfield who always had a runner in the shape of Gibson and Shodeinde to hold the ball up.
No-one can get nor should get carried away after one performance but it was a performance from the young guns that blew the older established Town away. It was also a wonderful way for this highly promising side to announce their arrival into The Ebac Northern League Division 2.
TEAM : 1. Matty Pattison 2. Thomas Cole 3. Dylan Wilkinson 4. Taylor Campbell (c) 5. Keallan Huddleston 6. Ryan Muldoon 7. Alex Fil 8. Ryan O'Connor 9. Jay Gibson 10. Benji Shodeinde 11. Ethan Gray.
SUBS : 12. Sam Johnson (for Gray 58 mins) 14. Elliott McClen (for Muldoon 77mins) 15. Liam Colledge (unused) 16. Jacob Fremantle (for O'Connor 85 mins) 17. Michael Mallaburn (for Fil 87 mins)
SCORERS : Gibson, Huddleston, Shodeinde
ATTENDANCE : 286
Next Up : Ryton & Crawcrook Albion - Wednesday 3rd August @ 7:45pm