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Nelson Strikes Late For Vital Three Points

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Wednesday 28th February 2024

Redcar Town 1 v 2 Chester-le-Street United

United made it back-to-back away wins within five days with another excellent performance against one of their rivals down at the bottom end of the division. They left it late to clinch all three points but it was a massive boost to their safety hopes.

Chester only made one change to the side that had won 3 - 0 at Billingham Town on the previous Saturday. Charlie Loveday who had scored late on at Billingham coming in to replace Ben Lawton who dropped to the bench.

Once again in these rain ravaged days both sides were greeted by a pitch that looked heavy and wet but as it turned out held up well during the 90 minutes with United starting well knocking the ball around in nice style.

They'd had the best of the forward possession and made it tell on 8 minutes as they took the lead in fine style. Jude Anderson sent Loveday away on the right and he made good ground to the by-line before cutting a dangerous ball back into the box.

It evaded a couple of Town defenders and came through to Jacob Mallinson who touched it neatly into Ryan O'Connor's path and the United midfielder crashed a low left-foot drive past the helpless Michael Algie in the Redcar goal.

Unfortunately United's lead only lasted two minutes when they handed Redcar an equaliser following a bad error by keeper James Hughes. Jack Ledger played a ball back to Dylan Wilkinson who in turn laid it back to Hughes to clear.

The keeper's first touch let him down though and he was forced to have to try and round Town's centre forward Carl Williams who was putting him under pressure. Williams taking advantage of Hughes' touch to poke the ball home from 6 yards.

Chester's response to the setback was excellent. Anderson setting Mallinson up who struck a great shot from the edge of the box that Algie did well to tip around the post. O'Connor taking the resulting corner.

His delivery was headed clear only to Ollie Barnett who was desperately unlucky to see his first time left foot volley from 20-yards smack the Redcar cross bar and bounce to safety.

Nice link-up play for Town by James Webb and Cameron Wilson opened up an area for the advancing Gary Redman to move into but trying his luck in the space he could only shoot over from 30-yards out.

O'Connor nearly got on the score sheet again when a good move saw Loveday play a great ball wide to Anderson. He controlled and picked out O'Connor on the edge of the box but this time his right-foot effort was inches over the bar.

Redcar then nearly went in front from a corner delivered by Wilson to the back post and Captain Jamie Lee got on the end of it to volley goal wards only to see his opposite number Wilkinson make an excellent brave block.

Mallinson then found Loveday in midfield and he freed O'Connor to cross from the right. Anderson was the intended target but Matthew Frater got in front although his sliced clearance only went inches wide of his own post.

United definitely had the upper hand at this point with Harvey Rudd playing a great ball down the right for Anderson who's cross may have been overhit but Ledger reached at the angle of the box but couldn't keep his shot down.

Town responded with an excellent run from the back by Frater who tried to slide Williams through on goal. The through ball was blocked by Barnett but bounced back to Frater who drove it in on the angle only to see Hughes make a great parried save.

It was the last action of an entertaining half where United had been the better side but Redcar were always in the game and both sides looked capable of producing a winner.

Chester came out in the second half on the attack taking the game to the home side. Reyhan Grimaud showing battling qualities in the middle of the park that saw him test Algie with a fine shot from just outside the box that the keeper saved well.

Then O'Connor taking a neat pass from Mallinson drove forward before unleashing a left-foot shot from just inside the box that went narrowly over the bar. United were applying good pressure now and knocking at the Redcar door.

Grimaud's 20-yarder taking a deflection off Jack Chapman and flying just wide. Ledger's in-swinging corner saw Algie do really well to punch the ball away under his own bar with Wilkinson and Micky Nelson applying pressure.

This time from the opposite side Mallinson swung in the delivery again right under the Town bar but it was scrambled clear by a resolute Redcar defence. Ashton Houlahan had come on for United replacing Rudd and was looking lively.

He created the next United chance working an excellent 1-2 with Loveday before delivering a great cross into the box that saw Grimaud get in behind the Town defence but put his header wide from a great position 8-yards out.

As the game entered the last ten minutes both sides were searching for a winner. Nelson played a great long diagonal ball over the top of the Redcar defence almost putting Loveday in on goal but Algie can out quickly to clear the danger.

Grimaud then lost the ball as United pushed high and had to chase back in superb style to win the ball back as Williams again looked dangerous. Grimaud then setting up a great counter attack.

He found O'Connor who swept a superb ball wide left to substitute Jack Wilson who had come on for Ledger. The striker cut inside and hit a lovely effort on target from the edge of the box but he was thwarted by a great diving save by Algie.

It looked as 89 minutes ticked by on the clock that it was going to be a point a-piece that both sides had to settle for until United struck late. O'Connor was fouled centrally some 25-yards from goal when trying to set-up another attack.

Redcar lined their wall up and Nelson stood over the ball checking the situation out. He then stepped up and curled a wicked effort into a space between the end of the wall and the far post.

It dipped just in front of the diving Algie and nestled into the bottom corner of the net. A brilliant effort from United's veteran defender that sparked jubilant celebrations on and off the pitch from the Chester contingent.

It was also the difference that United needed to take all three points and give themselves a massive boost in their battle at the bottom as they saw the remaining minutes out in comfortable fashion.

A great night and a great victory for a Chester side that are now beginning to string a few results together that could well see them comfortably safe in the run-in to the end of the season.

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. Jude Anderson 10. Jacob Mallinson 11. Jack Ledger.

SUBS : 12. Ben Lawton (for Mallinson 90 + 3 mins) 14. Ashton Houlahan (for Rudd 58 mins) 15. Michael Mallaburn (for Anderson 80 mins) 16. Jack Wilson (for Ledger 72 mins) 17. Sam Bajrami - DNP

SCORERS : O'Connor 8 mins, Nelson 89 mins.

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