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Lack Lustre United Lose Twelfth Home Game This Season

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 9th March 2024

Chester-le-Street United 0 v 2 Thornaby

There will not be many teams that end up taking more points on the road than they do at home but if this result and performance are anything to go by then United may be one of those.

A very lack-lustre performance where they were outmuscled from the start and didn't get to grips with a tough physical opponent on a difficult pitch consigned Chester to a 12th league defeat of the season at their own home ground.

It was a really disappointing day for the United management team, the players and supporters particularly after some excellent performances and results away from The Riverside.

These two teams had drawn 0 - 0 earlier in the season in Thornaby and hopes were high in the United camp that their recent improvement and upturn in levels of performance and results might have given them hope.

Hope that was dashed by a very clinical and well-disciplined performance from the visitors' who took a deserved three points.

United did start brightly in the game and perhaps could have gone ahead early on. Harvey Rudd being fouled out wide on the right. Ashton Houlahan took the kick and floated a great ball into the box.

Reyhan Grimaud was in the centre of the box about 8-yards out with a free header but he didn't time his connection well and headed wide from a great position. Charlie Loveday was also looking lively for Chester as the game progressed.

Twice he one corners for his side that they failed to capitalise on and then he won a free-kick centrally about 30-yards out. Up stepped Micky Nelson but his effort lacked it's usual accuracy and flew well over the bar.

Thornaby started to get a grip on the game and from a promising attack won a corner as Rudd cleared the United lines. Dale Milburn took it and put a dangerous in-swinger under James Hughes' bar with the keeper doing well to punch it clear.

The second ball in was cleared but only to Milburn who was tripped some 25-yards from goal by Ryan O'Connor. Milburn electing to shoot from the free kick but it whistled wide of the United goal.

Thornaby then missed a glorious chance to take the lead. Anthony Verity playing a good ball up to Ryan Wright on the edge of the box. The ex-Park View Academy player held it up well and then laid it square to the onrushing Charlie Hindson.

His first touch was great and took him into a great shooting position but his second touch was poor as he blazed the great opportunity well over the top of the bar.

Thornaby were picking the pace up but initially not capitalising on their possession. A poor clearing header from Ollie Barnett fell invitingly to the feet of Hindson who played a neat 1- 2 with Wright but then shot well over from 16 yards.

Loveday was next to give the ball away to Dom Joynes who found Wright in space on the edge of the box and he turned and fired a great effort past Hughes that just went wide of the right-hand post. Thornaby now really turning the heat up.

United though looked as if they were going to go in level at the break but the visitor's had other ideas and struck 4 minutes into injury time with a bit of a fortunate goal.

United failed to deal with a throw-in deep inside their half. The ball was laid back to Connor Gant who delivered it into the United six-yard box. Joynes getting in front of Dylan Wilkinson.

The ball bounced awkwardly flicking off both Joynes and Wilkinson and looping over the outstretched arms of Hughes. The final touch may have been off the helpless Wilkinson but the goal was credited to Joynes.

A goal as late as that completely changes the half-time team talks and in United's case it meant they would look to start stronger and push forward looking for an equaliser.

However, Thornaby's momentum and confidence was definitely on the up and they were the side to start stronger almost doubling their lead immediately on the restart.

A long free-kick forward from Luke Richards catching the United defence square and seeing David Webb in behind them. He though could only direct his first-time volley straight at Hughes who held it well.

Thornaby did though double their lead on 54 minutes and again it was a goal that United will have been disappointed to concede. Verity's throw from the left being played back to him by Webb. United failed to closedown the full back who had time to cross.

His ball in found substitute Phil Caley get in between the United defenders who did not deal with the cross and Caley had enough space and time to bundle the ball past Hughes from close range. The keeper getting hands to it but unable to keep it out.

United were crestfallen and Thornaby were dominating despite Chester making substitutions Thornaby almost made it three. Joynes left-wing cross picking out Richards just inside the box but he was denied a goal by Hughes' fine block.

Chester continued to make substitutions but couldn't find any spark or inspiration and failed to create a decent chance in the second half as Thornaby controlled the game well and saw it out to take an all to comfortable win from a United point of view.

TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Harvey Rudd 3. Ollie Barnett 4. Reyhan Grimaud 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Micky Nelson 7. Charlie Loveday 8. Ryan O'Connor 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Jacob Mallinson 11. Ashton Houlahan

SUBS : 12. Jack Ledger (for Barnett 68 mins) 14. Liam Paul (for Grimaud 58 mins) 15. Michael Mallaburn (for Houlahan 55 mins) 16. Jude Anderson (for Bewicke 70 mins) 17. Jamie Farrell (for Mallinson 68 mins)

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