by Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 11th November 2023
Chester-le-Street United 0 v 1 Redcar Town
A dark dreary dank dismal day greeted the two sides that ran out at The Riverside for this clash of two teams dwelling in the bottom reaches of the Second Division table. A game vitally important for both sides who were desperately looking for a win.
In the end after 90 minutes of football that never really threatened to lift the gloom it was Redcar that too the spoils to leave United in a desperate position in the relegation zone.
United have now lost eight games in total at home. Their last win on home turf came way back on the 23rd September and they now haven't scored a league goal since September 26th. Worrying statistics for a side looking to arrest the slide.
Chester had brought in a new centre forward to try and bolster their firepower in the week. Signing Kobe Bewicke from Prudhoe YC Seniors after United's win in midweek at Prudhoe in The Ernest Armstrong Cup.
Bewicke went straight into the United XI for this game and to be fair to him was perhaps one of Chester's better players on a day when no-one really shone or stood out. He battled hard and kept going for 90 minutes despite little service from teammates.
On a heavy pitch not conducive to passing flowing football United's midfield and wide men struggled to break down a tough resolute Redcar defence that were always in control of the game on a surface far more suited to their approach.
Indeed it was the visitors that opened the brighter. Connor Prest almost creating the first opening with a great cross field ball that found James Webb who almost got in on goal with Harvey Rudd making a great block to concede a corner.
Anthony Cardle took it and although United cleared the first ball it fell to Jack Chapman who smashed a 22-yard effort at goal that Jack Ledger did well to block. Then a cross cum shot from Prest almost caught James Hughes out.
United's keeper though showed great feet and excellent reflexes to back peddle and tip the ball away at full stretch. United meanwhile just couldn't get the ball moving when they tried to attack and constantly gave the ball away easily.
The only goal of the game came on 20 minutes and certainly gave Redcar something to hold on to for the rest of the game. Daniel Bean's right wing cross saw Webb beat Reyhan Grimaud in the air.
Although his knockdown wasn't clean it did fall kindly for Chris Dickinson who crashed it home from 10-yards low to the helpless Hughes' right side. It was Dickinson that almost double his own and his side's tally seven minutes later.
It came from nothing when he hit a speculative and spectacular right foot volley from fully 25-yards that looked a goal all the way until the flying athletic Hughes somehow dived full length to tip the ball over the bar.
It took United a full 31 minutes to register their first dangerous moment and when they did it almost produced a dramatic equaliser. Ledger's diagonal ball from the left finding Grimaud in space on the right.
The attacking full back did well to get around the Redcar defence to the by line before pulling the ball back dangerously into the six-yard box. Bewicke was first to the loose ball but Redcar captain Luke Drummond was on hand to make a brilliant brave block and deny Bewicke a debut goal.
This sparked United into action and they finally looked dangerous going forward. Ryan O'Connor driving forward from midfield before once again finding the supporting Grimaud on the right.
His first time cross was a good one but fractionally too high for the unmarked Bewicke at the back post and the ball drifted to safety. Then Dylan Wilkinson won a ball in midfield and played Ben Lawton through on goal.
Lawton was at an angle but did well to control the ball and get a shot on target but Jamie Lee was their for the visitors and deflected the ball inches over the bar with keeper Dominic Yeates struggling to get across.
Redcar then were denied by the impressive Hughes once again when they created a chance from an excellent counter attack. Harry Laydon had delivered a Chester free kick into the Town area that Gary Readman volleyed clear.
Somehow the ball fell perfectly to Dickinson who held it up well before sending Webb through on goal. His left foot shot from just outside the area saw Hughes dive low to his left to make another great save.
United did end the half on the front foot and came close on a couple of occasions to bringing the game level. A short corner routine between Laydon and Lawton saw the latter's effort blocked.
The ball fell to O'Connor 25-yards from goal and he flashed a low drive through a crowd of players that was just inches wide of the right hand post with Yeates well beaten.
Jude Anderson then produced a good run on the left before pulling a ball across the box for Grimaud who's shot was blocked by Readman for a corner. Laydon delivered and Emanuel Igiehon rose well 8-yards out but his header went over the top.
In the second half United opened the brighter but Redcar looked comfortable in defence. Bewicke showed his worth to United with clever hold up play before finding Rudd on the right advancing from defence.
Rudd delivered a really good long ball deep into the Redcar box but Yeates showed a commanding presence coming from his line to grab the ball well in front of Anderson.
Town then had a really good chance to increase their lead from one of the few good moves of the game. McCardle finding Prest on the right with a nice pass. The wide man delivered a great cross from his position.
Dickinson was unmarked in the middle about 10-yards out but could only direct his header from such a great position over the bar. Redcar then showed their prowess in defence to deny United once again in a dangerous passage of play.
A Rudd free kick from halfway was delivered into the Town box and caused an almighty scramble with O'Connor and Lawton having shots blocked as the Redcar defence scrambled to preserve their lead.
United were finding it increasingly frustrating to deal with Redcar's tactics and ability to slow the game down but almost sneaked an equaliser on 75 minutes when Bewicke did well to setup Anderson but his low left foot shot was well saved at his near post by Yeates.
Two shots at either end once again showed both keepers ability with Hughes first of all doing well to block Dickinson's close range left foot effort after the striker had turned Ledger inside out. Then Yeates at the other end got down to hold Bewicke's low drive from 20 yards.
On 78 minutes though Redcar should really have scored and seen the game off. Dickinson brilliantly slipped substitute Oliver Bielby in on goal. Bielby slid his shot past Hughes' dive only to see United substitute Michael Mallaburn get back to make an amazing goal line clearance.
United had one final chance deep into injury time when two of their late substitutes combined. Kymani Severin setting up Dan Walton for an effort on goal but once again a Redcar defender was in line, Drummond, to block.
The final whistle heralded another disappointing display, defeat and day for United who just can't seem to find a way to make their home venue a place to find comfort. The result meant that Redcar went four points and another place above them in the table. A table that is looking difficult for United at this stage.
TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Reyhan Grimaud 3. Jack Ledger 4. Harvey Rudd 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Emanuel Igiehon 7. Ben Lawton 8. Harry Laydon 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Ryan O'Connor 11. Jude Anderson
SUBS : 12. Harry Marr (for Anderson 88 mins) 14. Dan Walton (for Ledger 84 mins) 15. Charlie Loveday (for Grimaud 65 mins) 16. Michael Mallaburn (for Lawton 65 mins) 17. Kymani Severin (for O'Connor 78 mins)