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Late Drama Denies United Three Vital Points

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Tuesday 12th March 2024

Boldon C. A. 2 v 2 Chester-le-Street United

An away game for United but played on very familiar territory. With Boldon having issues with their ground and pitch it had been agreed to move the fixture to The Ford Quarry Football Hub where United played so many home games last season.

It is a surface that suits Chester's playing style and that their players are comfortable on and so it proved once again. However, the end result did not perhaps reflect what United could have taken.

Late, late drama seeing them concede an equaliser that snatched away what would have been a superb victory and three vital points in their battle at the bottom of the table.

After the 2 - 0 home defeat the previous Saturday, John Gamble made three changes to his starting XI wary that United also had to play Jarrow 48 hours after this game at the same venue.

Liam Paul coming into defence, Jack Ledger restored to the XI but playing left-side midfield and Jude Anderson was picked to play alongside Kobe Bewicke up front in a more attacking line-up.

It certainly paid dividends as from the off Chester were the brighter side and pushing forward at every opportunity. Jacob Mallinson and Jack Ledger in particular combining well on the left. It was no surprise when United went in front.

The goal came after pressure and on 7 minutes. Ryan O'Connor's deep cross to the back post finding Ollie Barnett up with the attack. He did well to head the ball into the six-yard box.

Bewicke did even better to get in front of Graeme McCall and side-foot his close range volley past the helpless George Briggs to give United a great start. Unfortunately it only lasted three minutes when Boldon grabbed an equaliser.

The leveller was a disaster for the unfortunate Paul in the heart of the Chester defence. O'Connor played a simple ball back to the Chester defender who inexplicably lost his footing and presented the ball to Robbie Gateshill.

Gateshill advanced into the box before squaring the ball to Charlie Raby you was able to round the onrushing James Hughes and then stab the ball into the empty net from inside the six-yard box.

United came straight back and Harvey Rudd played a great ball down the right to put Jacob Mallinson away. He put in a very dangerous cross that had Briggs scrambling but sadly for Chester there was no-one there to supply a final touch.

Paul then calmly found Micky Nelson in space and he played a superb diagonal ball to the overlapping Barnett who delivered a good cross that Aaron Williams headed behind for a Chester corner.

Mallinson took the kick and delivered it well. The ball falling to Anderson who looked to have a great chance but took a bad chance and the opportunity was lost as Boldon cleared.

Mallinson then took a free kick on the right that was headed clear. The ball falling to Nelson who hit a great effort from 25-yards out but it was straight at Briggs who held it well.

Then an excellent Chester move almost restored their lead. The ball was played forward by Dylan Wilkinson to Anderson who held it up well and then found Bewicke. He laid the ball back to O'Connor who was just outside the box.

The United midfielder unleashed a fierce on target drive but saw Briggs make an excellent diving tip around the post for a United corner that came to nothing.

More neat football from United who were relishing the surface saw the ball worked to Mallinson who struck a good effort but again it was straight at Briggs who was well placed to gather it in.

Briggs was certainly earning his corn and came to his side's rescue once again after United created another good opening. This time Wilkinson played a great ball down the line to Anderson who timed his run brilliantly.

Taking the ball in his stride he cut into the box and unleashed a goal bound 12-yard angled drive that Briggs did exceptionally well to get down to and parry to safety.

United continued to press and Boldon were defending well under United's promptings. They were lucky to escape though from another Chester free kick. Nelson floated the delivery into the box to find Barnett.

The defender was completely unmarked and again headed the ball into a very dangerous area towards Paul but he just couldn't stretch far enough to get what surely would have been a decisive touch.

Not much had been seen of Boldon in the United half but they did create one chance that they wasted. Adam Miller making ground down the right before turning the ball inside to Raby.

He was about 20-yards out but had no-one in front of him but he elected to shoot and dragged his cross shot well wide of the target. The half ended with United pressing one more time.

Nelson playing a good ball wide left to O'Connor who delivered a dangerous cross into the heart of the Boldon box looking for Bewicke but Briggs came off his line to claim the ball well and keep the score line level at half time.

United opened the second half the way they'd closed the first, very much on the front foot. Great work by O'Connor in midfield finding Ledger in space on the left. His excellent touch into the box found Anderson free.

Once again Briggs came to the rescue for Boldon as United's striker squandered the chance shooting straight into the body of the smothering Briggs who held on well.

The Chester had a big penalty shout that was waved away by the referee. Ledger taking a neat pass from Wilkinson and bursting into the box before seemingly being impeded as he shaped to shoot. Ledger went down but no penalty resulted.

Next it was Nelson setting up Anderson or nearly setting up Anderson in the end. The centre back's intelligent ball over the top finding Anderson in acres of space but he failed to bring the ball under control and the chance was lost.

Chester's neat close range passing was causing Boldon problems without having an end product. A short sharp passing move giving Ledger a chance to shoot from 22-yards out but his left-foot effort was well over the top.

United's pressure was really beginning to stretch Boldon now. Some good passing again saw Anderson get into space on the left-hand side of the box. He flashed his delivery across the six-yard box where Bewicke just couldn't get on the end of it.

After weathering a bit of a storm Boldon began to get a foothold in the game and responded with two decent chances of their own that they failed to take. The first when Corey Johns found Raby inside the box who controlled the ball well.

Raby then spun and hit a good goal bound shot that Paul did well to block averting any danger to Chester's goal. Then it was Johns again crossing well from the left. Miller threw himself at the ball and managed to glance a header past Hughes but it came back into play off the post.

United countered in great swift fashion with Anderson finding Mallinson who crossed low into the box for the late arriving O'Connor who just failed to get their first with Williams making a great goal saving interception.

But United did deservedly retake the lead on 63 minutes with an excellent finish from O'Connor. It was a goal superbly and intelligently created by Rudd who won a great tackle just inside his own half on the right touchline.

As he burst forward both Bewicke and Anderson wandered offside so Rudd cut inside and held the ball up well before finding O'Connor who in turn cut in from the right placing a great 22-yard left foot shot over the arms of the diving Briggs.

Rudd was certainly well involved in Chester's next decent moment when once again after gaining possession following a great tackle he played a ball to Bewicke who made space for a shot from the edge of the box that Briggs saved easily.

Boldon though weren't out of the game and missed a golden chance to level the scores when Raby dropped a great cross to the back post to find Johns unmarked, but from only 4 yards out he somehow headed wide with the goal gaping.

Reyhan Grimaud and Michael Mallaburn had come on for United and between them they created a great opening for Ledger that he just failed to take. Grimaud winning a tackle and giving the ball to Mallaburn who found Ledger with a brilliant reverse ball.

Ledger stormed into the box before smashing a superb left-foot angled drive from 12-yards that crashed against the angle of the goal frame and luckily for Boldon bounced away to safety.

United looked like they had played their way to an excellent win when the drama occurred three minutes into injury time. Johns who had an excellent second half for the visitors finding Raby in the box.

His shot on the turn striking Nelson on the arm as he tried to block and the referee pointing immediately to the penalty spot. To compound United's misery the official then sent-off Nelson for preventing a goal scoring opportunity.

That despite Hughes being seemingly well placed to save the shot. United were paid double jeopardy when Gateshill stepped up and sent Hughes the wrong way with a well-placed left-foot effort.

It was cruel on United who had been the better side but credit has to go to Boldon for hanging on and then taking the opportunity handed to them to grab a point deep into injury time.

TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Harvey Rudd 3. Ollie Barnett 4. Liam Paul 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Micky Nelson 7. Jacob Mallinson 8. Ryan O'Connor 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Jude Anderson 11. Jack Ledger

SUBS : 12. Dan Robinson - DNP 14. Reyhan Grimaud (for O'Connor 69 mins) 15. Charlie Loveday (for Bewicke 69 mins) 16. Ashton Houlahan (for Anderson 78 mins) 17. Michael Mallaburn (for Paul 74 mins)

SCORERS : Bewick 7 mins, O'Connor 63 mins.

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