by Jeff King
Wearside League First Division - Saturday 12th February 2022
Chester-le-Street United 7 v 0 Shotton Colliery
They say 'revenge is a dish best served cold." That may be true as it was certainly not warm on the side-lines at The Riverside 3G on Saturday. But on the pitch the youngsters of United were red-hot as they scorched Shotton Colliery to take recompense with interest for an early season 2 - 0 defeat away from home.
That they did it without three very influential players in Micky Spellman, Ryan Muldoon and Louis Watts says a great deal for the strength of this Chester squad. Acting First-Team Head Coach John Gamble had said that some of the fringe players had been champing at the bit to show what they could offer.
This display and result certainly showed that in abundance as it landed Gamble and his coaching staff with the sort of selection headache and dilemma that makes them smile more than frown.
Lewis Lembikisa, George Reilly and Abdullah Alawahdi all came into the starting eleven with Arthur Leblond also returning in goal. The wind was howling into Chester's faces as the game kicked off and started in dramatic style.
Jaden Timmis who had been switched from central defence to central midfield for the day fired as superb ball down the left touchline line inside the first ten seconds of the game to send the speedy wide man away. His cross caused problems and Shotton conceded a corner.
Cameron Brewis took the kick and sent over a dangerous ball that skipper Josh Crews just failed to get a head too. Timmis was quick to the loose ball and whipped in a cross from the opposite side. Crews was not quite able to get up high enough and could only direct his header wide.
But the stage, tempo and intent had been set and shown as United settled quickly and pressed their opposition well when not in possession and when they were knocked the ball about with great style and purpose.
Alawahdi was next to try his luck after doing well to win the ball in midfield he created room for a shot but his effort from outside the box flew straight at Ben Reynolds in the Shotton goal who saved comfortably.
United then had two decent chances in a matter of seconds but were thwarted by their own player on both occasions. From another corner which was cleared Ebenezer Addo did well on the right to find Brewis inside the box. His quick turn and goal bound shot was blocked inadvertently by Crews.
The ricochet fell to Alawahdi who struck it well with his left-foot but again the unfortunate Crews was in the line of fire and blocked the effort. Jay Gibson then held the ball up well and fed Addo on the right.
The wide man stepped outside his marker and fired in a fierce low shot that beat Reynolds but crashed unluckily into the side netting. It had been all Chester in the opening fifteen minutes but they couldn't find a way through.
Shotton's first real foray forward came on seventeen minutes when Craig Foster made space to hit a shot at the Chester goal that Leblond got down too easily save.
Elliott Day then made inroads into the Shotton defence before finding Lembikisa with a neat pass. He turned inside and hit a good shot that took a slight deflection off Kyle Tatters and flew just wide of the far post. Colliery were able to clear the corner easily.
Day was almost the creator again when this time he found Alawahdi inside the box and the forward did well to hold off the initial defender but once again a saving block came in for Shotton from Josh Stradling at the expense of another Chester corner which came to nothing.
For all their possession and attacking intent, United almost feel victim to a sucker punch. A long ball out of defence saw Liam Appleby get clear of the Chester defence with only Leblond to beat.
The keeper advanced to narrow the angle and Appleby tried to lob the ball over his head and into the net. He succeeded with the first part but failed with the second as the ball went well wide and the great chance went begging.
It was to prove a costly miss for the visitors as Chester swept into the lead on twenty seven minutes and not for the first time this season it was that man Brewis who provided the finish to sent his side on the way.
George Riley played the ball up the right-hand side and found Alawahdi who showed good strength and skill to turn away from the Shotton defence and lay the ball into Brewis's path.
Brewis looked up saw the gap open up and drove the ball past Reynolds from 20+ yards giving the Colliery keeper no chance whatsoever as the net rippled as the ball smacked into it.
There was hardly time to draw breath for either team as within two minutes it was 2 - 0. A great move down the left saw Lembikisa send Alawahdi into the area and the Kuwaiti Under-21 pulled the ball back to the onrushing Brewis who once again finished clinically.
Chester had moved up a gear and went looking for more. Addo twisted and turned his defender inside out before sliding the ball to the predatory Brewis who hit another great left-footed effort that Reynolds did brilliantly to turn around the post.
Reynolds did well again moments later when Lembikisa and Day combined well again to put Alawahdi through on goal but he was denied by Shotton's keeper who closed the angle down and blocked the effort in good style.
It was only a temporary plug to the flow of the Chester attack and on thirty-four minutes it was 3 - 0. The ball fell between Josh Ward and a defender and the block 50/50 tackle saw the ball loop to Gibson in acres of space inside the box and he coolly dispatched it past the beleaguered Reynolds.
Shotton were reeling now and had little answer as five minutes after the third came the fourth. Brewis was involved again putting Foster under intense pressure and the Shotton midfielder turned the ball straight into the path of Gibson who once again was clinical with his finish.
In the space of twelve minutes Chester had completely made the game their own and the destiny of the points and win were not in doubt thereafter. Indeed the youngsters poured forward at every opportunity and with the game going into injury time in the first half they went nap.
This time Addo was fouled just outside of the box adjacent to the 18 yard line. Reynolds set up his wall but it failed to stop Brewis who in true 'Kieran Trippier' style found the space to plant the ball into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick and a devastating first forty-five minutes for Chester.
One of the most impressive aspects of the breath taking first-half performance was that it was executed directly into the strong wind. It made the anticipation of the second-half when United would have the wind all the keener.
United though were forced into a change both in formation and personnel when Brewis declared himself to be feeling unwell and Taylor Robinson came on in his place. If Brewis' forty-five minute display was given whilst under the weather it made you wonder what he might have achieved if he'd felt 100%!
Shotton had obviously had a good discussion in their dressing room as despite the score line they opened the second half in the ascendancy. A good break on the left saw Appleby play a dangerous cross into the Chester box but Foster completely missed his kick and the chance was gone.
Robinson's first involvement almost brought United a sixth goal of the afternoon. Lembikisa was fouled wide on the left. Robinson took the free-kick and floated a great ball into the heart of the Shotton defence where Day got up to power a header goal wards only to see it come back unluckily off the cross bar.
Ward then played a lovely ball through to Gibson inside the box and the striker turned smartly but saw his snapshot well blocked by Tatters. Chester were getting great joy out on the flanks and Addo setup the next opportunity.
He outsprinted the Colliery defence on the right before pulling the ball back into the path of Alawahdi who unfortunately could only poke his effort wide of the mark.
Robinson again showed his creativity moments later playing Alawahdi through on goal but this time the Chester forward was thwarted by a good block from Sean Ryder.
From the resultant corner taken by Alawahdi, Robinson got to the ball first and flicked it goal wards only to see his effort cleared off the line. Chester on the hour mark made three further substitutions with Jack Mortimer coming on for Gibson, Alex Nicholson for Addo and James Bakou for Ward.
It freshened things up for Chester who within a minute of the change scored a lovely sixth goal. The outstanding Timmis who had completely bossed the midfield area came forward with the ball and from the edge of the box rifled a precise low left-foot effort past the outstretched right hand of Reynolds.
Substitute Nicholson then went very close to adding to the United tally. Picking up a ball deep in the centre of the pitch he drove directly at the Shotton defence and seemed as if he was in on goal only for Tatters to once again block the effort at the expense of a corner which was taken by Mortimer.
His delivery caused problems and panic in the middle of the area and as the ball spun up the bar saved the visitors once again as Alawahdi's neat header came back of the cross bar and was scrambled to safety.
Alawahdi was unfortunate again not long after when he cut in from the inside right position and curled a lovely left-foot effort towards the bottom corner only to see Reynolds get across and parry the ball away. Mortimer picked up the loose ball and fizzed a ball across the Shotton goal where no United player could get a touch.
Alawahdi had been denied a goal that his overall performance had probably deserved but he did have a say in Chester's final flourish that brought a seventh goal with time ebbing away.
It was a lovely move that he initiated on the left before finding Nicholson who turned the ball neatly into the path of fellow substitute Bakou who curled a lovely finish past Reynolds to complete the afternoon's work for United.
It had been another highly satisfying ninety minutes for the league leaders who showed once again they do not let-up when they have an opposition on the ropes. Their slick passing, great pressing and clinical finishing consolidated their position at the top of the Wearside League.
TEAM : 1. Arthur Leblond 2. George Riley 3. Elliott Day 4. Jaden Timmis 5. Josh Crews (C) 6. Josh Ward 7. Ebenezer Addo 8. Cameron Brewis 9. Jay Gibson 10. Abdullah Alawahdi 11. Lewis Lembikisa
Subs : Taylor Robinson for Brewis; Jack Mortimer for Gibson, Alex Nicholson for Addo and James Bakou for Ward
SCORERS : Brewis 3, Gibson 2, Timmis, Bakou