By Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 – Saturday 23rd October 2022
Chester-le-Street United 5 v 0 Esh Winning
After two tough games and results on the road Chester returned ‘home’ to The Ford Football Hub looking to get back to winning ways as they took on an Esh Winning side going through a transition period.
Esh having recently changed their Management structure bringing in Bobby Coltman and looking to refresh their playing squad.
It meant a starting debut for ex-United striker Jack Mortimer a midweek signing from Shildon Reserves in the Wearside League and an appearance on the bench for Liam Colledge a member of Park View Academy who had been playing for United’s reserves.
For United there was a debut for 16-year-old Emanuel Igiehon who joined Brandon Young in the starting line-up after the pair of them had been down to Huddersfield Town during the week for a trial game in the Yorkshire outfit’s academy team.
Ethan Gray also returned to the starting XI on the left side of midfield and there was a welcome sight on the bench with Jay Gibson returning from a lengthy lay-off to the squad.
United almost went ahead with their first attack. Ryan Muldoon winning a corner off Esh Captain Jonathan Swift. Ethan Gray delivered an in-swinger to the back post where Keallan Huddleston stole in but he could only put his close range header into the side netting.
Brandon Young was tripped trying to break from midfield. The designated dead ball specialist for the day Ethan Gray this time picking out Captain Dylan Wilkinson whose header was powerful but straight at Jak Wells in the Esh goal who gathered well.
United looked in the mood and Huddleston’s fine ball into the right channel was flicked on by Sam Johnson to Benji Shodeinde. The striker delivered a dangerous low cross from the right that Swift did really well to clear.
Esh were trying to stem the tide by playing balls wide as both full backs pushed on looking to deliver the ball early into the box, but the United defence was well organised and holding firm.
Another measured ball into the channel freed Johnson and as he looked to control and create an opening, he was denied by an excellent saving tackle from Reece Marshall. A promising start by Chester needed a reward and they duly got that on 18 minutes.
It came from an Ethan Gray corner that he swung to the back post. Thomas Cole looked a certain scorer as he met it with a firm header. The ball though cannoned off the inside of the post and dropped into the six-yard box where in the ensuing scramble Jack Oliver managed to poke it home from close range for his first goal for United.
A nice move from United almost saw them double that lead ten minutes later. Wilkinson played a nice ball to Johnson who controlled well before finding Shodeinde. He swept the ball wide to Ethan Gray on the left.
His first time cross drifted over everyone and looked like it was going to drop into the net but it hit the post and fell towards Shodeinde at point blank range but he was beaten to the loose ball by Ken Shevels who hacked it clear.
United’s injury hoodoo struck again when goal scorer Oliver limped off to be replaced by Daniel Robinson. Robinson’s arrival did not slow down Chester who continued to dominate proceedings.
However, Esh did come into the game and a break from defence saw Mortimer bearing down on Mauro Asikaogu’s goal. Mortimer though didn’t pull the trigger when well-placed and his hesitation allowed Huddleston to nip in and clear.
Then neat play by Cobi Jones saw him set up a shooting chance for Marshall who caught his 22-yard shot cleanly, but it was straight at Asikaogu who held it comfortably.
Harry Carter then upended Muldoon wide on the left. Ethan Gray swung in another dangerous cross that Swift nodded out of the box. Robinson picking it up quickly and finding Ethan Gray again in a good position wide left.
This time the cross into the box fell to Shodeinde but he just failed to control the ball well enough when in a great position and the ball merely hit him and dropped kindly for Esh keeper Wells.
United ended the half on the attack and Wilkinson’s superb diagonal ball looked to have put Cole in on the right-hand side but Keegan Turns did well to get back and concede a corner. This time Esh cleared Ethan Gray’s delivery and the referee blew for half time.
As the teams came out for the second half United had made one change with Gibson coming on for Igiehon and he made an immediate impact on his arrival. United won a throw-in level with the penalty area and long throw specialist Cole launched it into the box.
Gibson was first to it and he looped a header beyond the grasp of Well and the ball dropped into the far bottom corner. Quite the way to introduce yourself back to the squad and putting United 2 – 0 up on 47 minutes.
Esh tried to respond and Carter’s long diagonal ball from the right found Mortimer who was played onside by Cole. The angle though was against the new Esh striker, and his cross shot was easily gathered by the diving Asikaogu.
On 52 minutes Chester effectively ended the game and confirmed the destiny of the three points. It was from another Cole long throw from the right. This time the ball falling at the feet of Johnson who sliced his effort up in the air and saw Shodeinde react first to head the ball past Wells from 8-yards.
Esh to their credit kept going and when Jones dispossessed Huddleston some 25-yards from goal, Huddleston responded by pulling him back conceding a free kick and receiving a booking. Lee McMahon took the kick but fired it well over the top.
United now looked dangerous every time they went forward. Robinson fed Johnson on the right who made space really well and fired over a dangerous cross that Wells did well to get too just in front of Gibson.
How United didn’t score in their next attack is anybody’s guess. Shodeinde slipped past Colledge superbly on the halfway line and was away on goal with Gibson in support and unmarked at the back post.
Shodeinde tried to find him with a flicked outside of the right boot pass. Swift though blocked the cross. The ball fell back to Shodeinde who made room and smashed an effort on goal that Wells did well to block. He then did even better to block again as the ball to Johnson at point-blank range.
On 74 minutes United did make it four and it came yet again from an Exocet missile of a long throw from Cole. This time his delivery released Shodeinde on the right and he made ground before playing it inside to Gibson who finished neatly from 10 yards.
Gibson almost had a hat-trick in the next minute. Johnson releasing Ethan Gray on the left and splitting the defence open. Ethan Gray delivered and Gibson’s header was on target, but Wells made a neat save.
Gibson though wasn’t to be denied and on 80 minutes did grab that first ever hat-trick for a Chester player in the Northern League as they also scored five for the first time in the competition.
Substitute Matt O’Brien played a magnificent ball down the right channel to Robinson who in full flow crossed into the box where Shodeinde flicked it on to Gibson at the back post who rammed it home with venom to complete the afternoon’s scoring.
The last ten minutes or so were played out comfortably by United who didn’t threaten to increase their lead but also didn’t look like allowing Esh any consolation either as the final whistle went to secure United’s biggest win at this level so far in their history.
This was, especially in the second half, an excellent team performance from United who richly deserved their victory and once again showed they belonged at this level. It was an emphatic win and made all the sweeter by the superb return to fitness of hat-trick hero Gibson.
United now have a real break coming up before they play again when high flying Birtley Town will be the visitors to the Ford Quarry Football Hub.
TEAM : 1.Mauro Asikaogu 2. Keallan Huddleston 3. Emanuel Igiehon 4. Brandon Young 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Jack Oliver 7. Thomas Cole 8. Sam Johnson 9. Benji Shodeinde 10. Ryan Muldoon 11. Ethan Gray
SUBS : 12. Elliot McClen (for Ethan Gray 76 mins) 14. Dan Robinson (for Oliver 29 mins) 15. Jay Gibson (for Igiehon 46 mins) 16. Evan Gray (for Muldoon 76 mins) 17. Matt O’Brien (for Young 71 mins)
SCORERS : Oliver, Gibson 3, Shodeinde