By Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 25th November 2023
Chester-le-Street United 0 v 6 Ryton & Crawcrook Albion
It was yet another disappointingly dismal day for all at Chester-le-Street United against Ryton & Crawcrook who very much came, saw and conquered. This young United side were simply no match for their more experienced opposition.
Alarm bells are certainly ringing loud and not very proud in the Chester camp as once again they completely folded against a side that took full advantage of United's lack of form and confidence.
No League wins since September 23rd and still no league goal since the 26th of the same month despite bringing in attacking reinforcements. What's equally as worrying is until the last two games United have been competitive despite their barren run.
The last two games though have now seen them concede 11 goals and despite trying to address those defensive frailties it seems United's youngsters are just struggling to come to terms with a tough physical League where mistakes are constantly punished.
The team for this game debuted two new players for United. Both 16-year-olds that it was hoped due to the level they've been playing at may have made a difference. That they didn't was not necessarily their fault as the whole team struggled all game.
The debutants were Fin O'Gorman a Centre Forward from Middlesbrough AFC's Academy who came in on a Work Experience loan and Park View Academy student Ashton Houlahan who transferred in from Shildon AFC in Division 1.
On a difficult pitch not helped by poor maintenance outside of United's control it was Chester that had the first opportunity when Kobe Bewicke was fouled in the centre of the Ryton half.
Harry Laydon whipped a dangerous free kick into the box but there was no-one their in a gold shirt that could get a decisive touch. It was, as it turned out, a rare moment of attacking intent from United.
Ryton on the other hand looked dangerous, well-organised, strong and compact from the off and took only 5 minutes to go in front with their first incisive chance that they converted clinically.
Richard Hoggins crossing from the right with his left foot and finding Jack Errington breaking from midfield. Errington dived to meet the cross about 8-yards out but his header was not on target. Instead it went into the six-yard box.
The loose ball fell invitingly for unmarked Aaron Costello who had no hesitation in accepting his free space crashing the ball home past a helpless James Hughes. A severe early blow to Chester's already fragile confidence.
It could have got worse for United a lot earlier than it did. A ball into Hoggins saw him turn well and strike a great effort from just inside the box that was bettered by Hughes' flying save to his right.
The loose ball falling to Noah Adotey who looked well placed for the rebound but Harvey Rudd did well to get across and block the effort and then clear the danger. Ryton were already well on top.
A great ball by Errington from midfield opened up a great opportunity for Adotey to cross from the left. He almost picked out Costello but Emanuel Igiehon did well to intercept and clear.
Then it was Costello picking a loose ball up on the edge of the United box and rifling in a great right foot shot that flew inches wide. United's only real retort a Bewicke 20-yarder that was well over from an angle after Dan Robinson's neat inside pass.
From a Ryton corner taken by Fergus Lynch, Dylan Wilkinson got up well to head away under pressure. The ball falling to Connor Brown who's first time effort was blocked bravely by Jack Ledger.
A second Ryton goal had seemed and felt inevitable and duly arrived on the 30-minute mark. A ball forward from Glenn Caygill saw an unfortunate slip by Wilkinson on the surface giving Costello a run on goal.
Wilkinson did well to recover and tackle Costello but the loose ball ran kindly for Ryton to the unmarked Hoggins who crashed it home from about 14-yards out. Chester's players looked crestfallen as they watched Ryton celebrate.
They did though force two corners both of which were taken short. The first came when Houlahan had a good shot deflected wide. and Bewicke put Rudd away on the right, Errington blocking the cross.
Unfortunately Laydon and Loveday's attempt to create something went sadly wrong and was wasted. The second one between the pair was better resulting in Laydon fizzing in a great ball that Tom Dawson in the Ryton goal claimed well.
Chester's hopes of getting to the interval without any more damage were shattered virtually on the half-time whistle. This time a ball from Lynch found Scott Oldfield in acres of space on the left hand flank.
He weighed up his options before curling a superb ball to the back post that Hughes couldn't cut out and when Igiehon lost his marker, Hoggins, the Ryton #11 had the simple task of heading home into an empty net from close range.
It looked a very, very, very long way back now for United as they trooped off shell-shocked on the half-time whistle. Ryton had been clinically efficient and well worth their lead at the break.
If United had hoped for some respite and a way back into the game as the second half opened they were not in luck. Hoggins and Costello combining well early and Costello driving over the top from a good ;position.
United did almost pull a goal back on 55 minutes. Loveday did well to create space for himself in midfield before finding Bewicke who hit a terrific 22-yard effort that beat Dawson but smacked off the outside of the Ryton left-hand post.
Two minutes later it was, if hadn't been at half-time, game over as Ryton struck a fourth. Ryton's Lucas Hildreth had come on for Adotey and Reyhan Grimaud for Igiehon for United. Both were involved in the goal to a degree.
Hildreth picking the ball up on the left and turning inside outpacing Grimaud and then cutting across the United 18-yard line before unleashing a low right-foot shot that was right in the corner of the net beating Hughes' outstretched left hand.
Ryton were so comfortable with their performance that they made all five substitutions by the 67th minute as they continued to boss the game. United did have a half chance on 75 minutes.
Grimaud getting across the Ryton defence to reach Laydon's well directed free kick but his 12-yard header although on target lacked pace and power and was easily saved by Dawson.
On 78 minutes Ryton netted a fifth goal. Hildreth this time turning up on the right flank and again showing great speed as he raced away from Ledger into the United box and got to the by-line.
He then pulled the ball back into the danger area to find Costello in space and he blasted the ball past the helpless Hughes from about 8-yards out compounding Chester's woes.
Ryton weren't finished there either and on 82 minutes made it an even more embarrassing afternoon for United. That man Hildreth was involved again proving to be an inspired substitution.
Making space on the right he delivered a pinpoint cross that Costello got up well to beat the Chester defence to and power a great header past Hughes who once again had no chance with the effort.
It completed a great hat-trick for Costello who has now scored 13 league goals this season for his team and tormented United in both games they've played this campaign.
It had been the centre forward that has grabbed the only goal of the game in the early season league encounter and his three goals in this game helped his side to complete the double over Chester.
United did have one last chance to snatch a consolation goal when substitute Jude Anderson was fouled centrally just outside the box. Laydon got the free kick up and over the wall and on target but Dawson was well placed to make a neat save.
So, another home day, another home defeat for a Chester side who perhaps are wondering where their next win is coming from. At times they play some neat passing football but all to often they are outmuscled and out fought by a more competitive physical opponent.
This though was one of those days when they could have no complaints at all as their performance, particularly defensively was simply not good enough.
TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Dan Robinson 3. Jack Ledger 4. Harvey Rudd 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Emanuel Igiehon 7. Ashton Houlahan 8. Harry Laydon 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Fin O'Gorman 11. Charlie Loveday
SUBS : 12. Harry Marr (for Houlahan 72 mins) 14. Jude Anderson (for O'Gorman 80 mins) 15. Reyhan Grimaud (for Igiehon 56 mins) 16. Kymain Severin (for Robinson 76 mins) 17. Jack Wilson (for Loveday 80 mins)