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Historic Run Ends In Professional Surroundings

by Jeff King

FA Youth Challenge Cup - Second Round Proper

Burton Albion 2 v 0 Chester-le-Street United

The second round proper of the FA's most prestigious youth competition. One round away from the last 64 teams in the country and a potential date with Premiership giants Aston Villa.

What an achievement from this six-tier Non-League side that have done the town of Chester-le-Street and the County of Durham proud. Was it one round too far? Possibly as they went out but they went out with heads held high.

In truth United were very much second best in this latest encounter especially in the first half. But they showed great fight, effort and determination to stay with their EFL League Division 1 professional outfit after a shaky start.

To have come so far and be rewarded with an away day at an established professional outfit was a marvellous achievement and experience for United's youngsters. It was though ultimately tinted with disappointment in the end.

No-one can take anything away from United who have done themselves, Park View Academy and the region proud in going so far. The legacy is that once achieved they can dream again about doing it all again next season.

For some this may be the biggest game they'll ever play in. For others that it might not be then that would mean they've lived the 'project's' dream and moved on to bigger and higher echelons.

Perhaps it was the surroundings, perhaps it was the occasion perhaps even some dared to dream what a victory might mean. Whatever the circumstances all seemed to contribute to a start where United looked a little overawed and fragile.

That said they did create the game's opening chance and it was a good one that had they done better with may well have meant a totally different perspective and ending to the night's proceedings.

It was a great attack inside the opening two minutes. Charlie Loveday showing great feet and awareness to play Michael Mallaburn into the right hand side of the box. Mallaburn doing well to outpace his marker and get to the by-line.

His pull back was aimed for the waiting Jude Anderson but Brewer's skipper Will Tamen did well to get to the ball first and block the pass. The ball spinning up in the air to Charlie Bunton who got in a speculative and spectacular overhead volley that flew over the bar.

The start though didn't faze Burton who immediately showed their ability, fitness and quality by beginning to zip the ball around on a very decent playing surface. They began to press and Jonathan Beattie did well to halt Charlie Knowles' progress at the expense of a corner.

The short passing routine between Connor Pace and Ronny Wakelin was well-rehearsed and very slick giving Wakelin room for a cross which he delivered well. Dylan Scott being the target found but his free header from 8-yards went over.

Burton though shook United in their next attack on 8 minutes when they opened the scoring. It came from an incisive bit of play initially when Knowles attacked at speed down the left flank and then cut into the United box.

His pull back looked destined to be dispatched by Scott but he completely missed the ball when attempting a first time shot. The ball ran on and Pace smashed it goal wards from just inside the box the ball deflecting off Harvey Rudd for a corner.

Pace took the corner on the United right whipping a high ball across the Chester six-yard area. James Hughes didn't come to claim allowing the ball to fall at the back post. Cameron Gilbert timing his run well to lose Dan Robinson and bundle home the ball from barely two yards out.

A huge boost for the home side that had settled the quicker but a goal that perhaps United could have and should have avoided conceding. They were now firmly behind the eight-ball.

Albion thought they had another moments later. Harry Marr was a touch too sloppy in midfield and gave the ball away to Pace who homed in on goal before smashing a superb shot for the corner only to see the effort bettered by Hughes.

Flying to his right the United keeper did brilliantly to keep the ball out. The ball fell loose and Hughes scrambled towards it only to be beaten to it by Kiyan Baker-McKay who bundled it home.

The goal though was ruled out by the referee who deemed that Baker-McKay's challenge on Hughes in the scramble was illegal and United sighed a breath of relief.

Josh Taroni then opened up the play with a lovely reverse pass to Knowles once again getting forward on the left. This time the Number 3 decided to turn inside on to his right foot and fired low to Hughes right with the United keeper getting down well to save comfortably.

Knowles was looking dangerous every time he had possession and was mixing up his play well. His next sortie saw him deliver a lovely cross to the back post that United's skipper Jack Ledger did well under pressure from Cyprian Mtenga to head out for a corner.

Pace delivered again this time finding Tamen 10-yards out. The big centre back met it with a firm header that forced Hughes into tipping the ball over the bar in neat style.

With the unrelenting pace and pressure Burton were showing and United unable to push them back a second goal did seem inevitable and came on 29 minutes. But, once again, in the after match analysis United will know they should not have allowed the goal.

Albion's goalkeeper cleared his lines long and centrally leaving Scott 1-on-1 with Emanuel Igiehon. Igiehon should really have won the header and cleared the danger but he wasn't decisive enough and Scott collected.

Igiehon did manage to get between goal and man to stop Scott creating a shooting chance but the Centre Forward had his wits about him held the ball up well and waited until timing his lay-off beautifully into the path of the free running Wakelin.

Wakelin without breaking stride crashed on to the ball and sent it arrowing into the corner of the net with his right foot via the post. An excellent finish to double the home side's lead.

At this stage things looked ominous for Chester who had hardly registered a blow in anger other than Bunton's early effort. United did win a free kick inside the Burton half that Mallaburn took.

He floated the ball into the home box where Harvey Rudd got up well but headed outwards rather than inwards. The ball though fell to Marr just outside the box who hit a first-time effort that was well blocked by Taroni.

Mallaburn was trying to get his side going by coming deep and instigating play but it was nearly to his and Chester's undoing when he did so just inside his own box. He gave the ball away to Mtenga who found Baker-McKay in space..

The forward's effort was partially closed down by an Igiehon block that took enough pace off it to enable Hughes to make a clean save. Hughes though could do nothing about Burton's final foray of the half.

It was Knowles again on the left found well by Pace spreading the play wide. Cutting inside the left wing back whipped a superb curling effort from the edge of the box that beat Hughes but was inches wide of the target.

When the referee called a halt to the first half proceedings it was certainly United that were glad to hear the shrill whistle blow so they could get into the changing room to see if they could re-group.

From the kick-off in the second half there was no change initially in United's personnel but there was in their formation as they switched to a diamond in the middle of the park and pushed Bunton inside to play alongside Anderson.

It though was still Albion that pushed forward with more purpose as the half unfolded. A great ball into the corner by Taroni saw Mtenga win the race to the ball over Beattie.

Rudd though came across well to cut off the danger blocking Mtenga's attempted cross at the expense of a corner taken by Pace. This time Pace's delivery saw Tamen get free at the back post but at full stretch he could only direct his header wide.

United brought Kymani Severin on for Mallaburn and Leo Fasuan for Robinson who had only just returned from a long period of injury. It made little difference to the flow of the game although United were still just about in the game.

From a clever Wakelin inside pass Albion's Scott had a chance to drive a shot from just inside the area at goal but Hughes got down well to make a smart block. Then Taroni made a great break down the left cutting inside the box.

His cut back was a sharp one and looked dangerous but Hughes once again was alert and dived forward to snatch the ball away from the feet of Scott. United then made their final substitution with 13 minutes to go. Nathan Conroy coming on for Bunton.

It was Conroy that helped setup what was United's only noteworthy effort of the whole contest. Ledger took a throw-in from the left finding the feet of Conroy just outside the box. The big striker controlled it well and then laid it off to Severin.

The United midfielder dancing inside his marker to the edge of the box before hitting a strong left foot shot that Dudek did well to hold in the middle of his goal. Had that gone in it could have made the last ten minutes interesting.

It didn't and United didn't get another chance as Albion continued to control the ball and the game as time wound down. Burton created one final chance deep into injury time that would have created a harsh score line for United had it gone in.

It came from another Pace corner that went over everyone to the far post. It was retrieved by Tamen who found substitute Jack Newall. He delivered into the box and the ball was met on the half-volley by Taroni who saw Hughes make a brilliant point-blank save to keep it out.

And that was that! Defeat but not with heads bowed, rather with heads held high. A simple statement but United were beaten on the night by a better team that deserved their victory and place in the next round.

That said from a United point of view both goals could have been prevented and had they been so then how different things would have been. United perhaps would have been a bit more expansive although that may have cost them in the long run.

But the game is not about ifs and buts and everyone at Chester-le-Street United passes their congratulations on to Burton and wishes them well in the future. They were brilliant hosts and worth winners as well as opposition.

If the history making magnificent run had to end it was perhaps fitting that it ended in a defeat where Chester were second best but not outclassed and on a professional platform that some of their squad could ultimately strive to achieve.

TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Jonathan Beattie 3. Jack Ledger (c) 4. Harry Marr 5. Harvey Rudd 6. Emanuel Igiehon 7. Charlie Loveday 8. Dan Robinson 9.Jude Anderson 10. Michael Mallaburn 11. Charlie Bunton

SUBS : 12. Joe Walls - DNP 13. Kieran Harwood (GK) - DNP 14. Dan Walton - DNP 15. Nathan Conroy (for Bunton 77 mins) 16. Leo Fasuan (for Robinson 63 mins) 17. Kymani Severin (for Mallaburn 58 mins) 18. Keane Mitchell - DNP

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