by Jeff King
Alan Hood Charity Cup - Quarter Final - Saturday 15th January 2022
Chester-le-Street United 3 v 0 Richmond Town
The Cup holders produced a solid, professional performance to go through to the semi-final stage of a competition that they won last season beating Northern League bound Boldon C.A. in the final to lift their first piece of silverware.
Richmond Town never gave up and battled hard throughout the 90 minutes but in the end they succumbed to United's superior all-round ability and pace as Chester's youngsters march on.
Skipper Josh Crews missed the game through injury which meant a change of formation and line-up for United. Gianny Bacto coming into the starting XI with Cameron Brewis dropping slightly deeper from attack and Ebenezer Addo moving into the back three with Elliott Day named as Captain.
It was a tight probing opening to the game with both sides vying for superiority. Chester had the better of the opening exchanges forcing two early corners both of which were cleared by the Richmond defence.
The first shot on target actually came from the visitors in the tenth minute. It was as a result of a free-kick well outside the box. Adam Cocks stepped up and curled his effort around the wall but it was straight at Arthur Leblond who saved easily.
United should have taken the lead moments later with a tremendous chance. Josh Ward played a neat ball inside to Bacto who's first time flick was picked up by Brewis who spread the play well to the left finding Micky Spellman.
The wide man took a touch, steadied himself and then delivered a dangerous ball across the face of the six-yard box to find Jay Gibson in front of goal. It looked a goal all the way as Gibson flicked it towards the net but somehow Harry Dowding in the Town goal got across and made a brilliant parry to keep the ball out.
Addo then showed his speed and dribbling prowess but unfortunately not his finishing touch when he surged out of defence with the ball made a brilliant run down the right channel but then hit his cross too strongly wide of it's targets.
It was a temporary reprieve for Richmond as Chester did take the lead on sixteen minutes. Adam Walker got into difficulty on Richmond's right hand side. A combination of Louis Watts and Spellman wrestled possession for United.
Spellman then conjured up a great cross to the back post where Ward came rushing in to get on the end of the cross and volley it superbly into the net from six-yards out with Dowding nowhere.
It was a great goal from the midfielder but unfortunately his last action of the game. Early in the game he'd been injured in a tough aerial challenge but looked like he'd run it off.
Unfortunately, despite his effort for the goal it proved to be an injury he could not shake off and he was lead away looking quite groggy and was replaced by Lewis Lembikisa.
Chester came close to doubling their lead just after the half-hour mark when Brewis picked up a ball midway in the Richmond goal. As the play opened up in front of him, he drove forward and hit an excellent left foot effort from just outside the box which beat Dowding but smacked back into play off the crossbar.
A lot of Chester's good play was coming from the usual suspects Spellman and Brewis who carved out another great chance that went begging. Brewis' superb long diagonal ball found Spellman on the left.
He controlled the ball beautifully before laying it back into the path of the onrushing Watts breaking into the box.. Unfortunately Watts was unable to get his timing right and sliced wide from a good position.
A second goal did though arrive for Chester as the game went into injury time in the first-half. Once again Brewis was involved creating a shooting opportunity that appeared to be handled by the Richmond defender. The referee though awarded only a corner.
Brewis took the kick on the Chester left and floated a great outswinger into the danger area where Day rose majestically to power a header past the Richmond defensive efforts and take Chester into the dressing-room at half-time two goals to the good.
Richmond had battled and defended well but hadn't been much of a threat at the other end and looked as if they had a mountain to climb to get back into the game especially as United started the second half on the front foot.
Bacto had the first chance but his 20-yard effort flew well over the top before Spellman made a great run in the next attack and from a similar position stung the hands of Dowding who made a great parry to keep the effort out.
Richmond did rally and finally got a decent look on goal. The industrious Eddie Lewington found Harry Needham inside and he did well to slip Ross McGuigan up from the back in on goal but the defender-come-attacker fired wide from a promising position.
It was a significant moment as United swept into a three-goal lead on 55 minutes with an exquisitely crafted and beautifully created goal. Brewis again being the man in the right place to drift centrally with the ball towards goal.
He played two superb 1-2's with Bacto to split the Richmond defence wide open and as Dowding advanced to narrow the angle Brewis showed great composure to slot the ball into the keeper's left-hand corner of the net.
At this stage it was all Chester who looked hungry for more. They did though make a series of changes with the game pretty much out of Richmond's reach. Taylor Robinson, Jack Mortimer, Abdullah Alawadhi and Alex Nicholson all coming on for Bacto, Watts, Gibson and Ryan Muldoon.
That man Brewis was causing all sorts of problems for Town and he led a three against one break that looked like a chance to increase the score line. With players either side he slipped in Lembikisa on the right but the first-half substitute blazed over from a great position.
The changes slightly disrupted the Cheshire rhythm and Richmond got forward a lot more forcing a corner off Day on the left. The ball was met in the middle by a solid header from Scott Guy but it was straight at Leblond who saved comfortably.
Robinson who was returning from injury for United showed his ability to pick a pass by setting Spellman free in the inside left channel. Spellman's effort was a good one and firmly on target but Dowding's parry in reply was even better.
Richmond came closest to a final goal in the game as time wound down with Leblond earning his clean sheet with two fine saves. McGuigan played a great ball over the top of the Chester defence to find Lewington in space.
The striker hit a great first-time effort which Leblond did really well to parry. The ball falling to Walker inside the box but his effort was beaten away by the athletic Leblond recovering his position well.
From the resultant corner Harry Needham got in a header that was goal bound but saw Nicholson in the right place at the right time to clear the danger. It was the last significant action of an entertaining game that saw Chester move into the semi-final.
They will be joined in that semi-final draw by Gateshead Leam Rangers and FC Hartlepool who also both advanced with the other quarter-final seeing Wolviston set to take on Darlington Town.
TEAM : 1. Arthur Leblond 2. Ebenezer Addo 3. Elliott Day (c) 4. Louis Watts 5.Jaden Timmis 6. Ryan Muldoon 7. Josh Ward 8. Cameron Brewis 9. Jay Gibson 10. Gianny Bacto 11. Michael Spellman
SUBS : 12. Alex Nicholson for Watts 14. Taylor Robinson for Bacto 15. Lewis Lembikisa for Josh Ward 16. Jack Mortimer for Gibson 17. Abdullah Alawahdi for Muldoon
SCORERS : Ward, Day, Brewis