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Slick University Shatter Vase Dreams

by Jeff King

The Isuzu FA Challenge Vase - 1st Qualifying Round - Saturday 27th August 2022

Chester-le-Street United 1 v 3 Newcastle University

There was a school of thought that going into this game that United were the favourites against opposition from the same division that had lost all of their opening league games thus far.

But that's why football is played on pitches and not on paper as Newcastle University through the form book out of the window and showed what cup football is all about.

It's fair to say that by the end of the game the more mature senior students from The University had taught the younger pupils of the Academy a lesson they'll do well to learn from.

United went into the game still without first-choice keeper Mauro Asikaogu. Add in missing players like Ryan Muldoon, Jay Gibson and Jack Oliver as well as the injured Thomas Cole and Keallan Huddleston and Chester needed to see if squad/fringe players could step up.

Result wise and performance wise it appeared not as many didn't take their chance to push for a place and rather worryingly even some of the first choice players did not rise to the occasion either.

There was a very early warning sign sent across United's bows inside the first minute. Newcastle's big powerful centre forward Tolu Osiyemi dispossessing Alex Fil who had dropped in to centre back before shooting from 20 yards only to see Matty Pattison make an easy save.

United's first attack saw Ryan O'Connor play a neat ball to Dan Lanning who cut to the by-line before being blocked by Stephen Pennington for a corner. Taylor Campbell swung the kick to the back post where Osiyemi made a good clearing header.

Osiyemi was certainly making a strong start to the game and that continued on 4 minutes when he opened the scoring for the visitor's. The ball was played up to Timmy Browne who controlled it well before laying it back to Joel Feirn.

His ball over the top and in behind the Chester defence caused confusion with keeper Pattison calling for the ball which his defenders left. Osiyemi reacted quicker though getting there before Pattison knocking the ball past him and then strolling into the empty box to place his shot into an unguarded net.

It was almost two, three minutes later. Once again Osiyemi the man involved. He somehow got free inside the United six-yard box and only had Pattison to beat but the young keeper did outstanding well to turn the effort away from point-blank range.

United were seeing a lot of the ball in midfield but their possession was not turning to an end product as time and time again the University defence dealt with any sniff of a threat in a comfortable manner.

The University were once again denied by Pattison's reflexes when Ryan Redford did really well in midfield to hold the ball up and then slide it into Osiyem's path. His 16-yard strike was ferocious but Pattison's finger tips turned the ball on tp the cross-bar where it cannoned off and was scrambled clear by Josh Crews.

It was a temporary reprieve only for United as on 26 minutes they fell further behind. Browne wriggling free in the box and although his shot struck the post the disorganised United defence failed to react and there was Osiyemi inside the six-yard box to put home the rebound.

United were struggling but grabbed a lifeline on the 30-minute mark. Crews brought the ball out of defence well to find Campbell in midfield. The schemer released Benji Shodeinde into the box where he was upended as he drove forward.

The referee immediately and correctly pointing to the spot. Surprisingly Shodeinde got up to claim the rights to the spot-kick in front of regular taker Lanning. He showed no nerves though stepping up and smashing it into the left-hand side of the goal with Kieren Proctor diving the wrong way.

Naturally the goal bred a bit of confidence and United suddenly looked that bit sharper. O'Connor found substitute Sam Johnson who had come on for the unfortunately injured Dylan Wilkinson.

He drove into the box and then tried to cut the ball back to Lanning but Benjamin Long was alert to the danger and got across well to snuff out any chance Lanning may have thought he was going to have.

Some neat build-up by United almost brought them a decent chance. Evan Gray found Johnson on the right with a sweeping ball. Johnson controlled it well and drove a low cross into the box where Lanning got to it first but he didn't connect fully and his effort went tamely wide.

Back came Newcastle and Feirn made a great drive from midfield before sliding the ball into the path of Browne. He took one touch and then fired a fierce cross-shot at goal only to be denied by Pattison who made a reflex save with his feet.

Ethan Gray finally found some space on the left wing and after a good run and 1-2 with John Anderson found Shodeinde who's cross to the back post was in the direction of Lanning but was cut out and cleared in good style by Andrew O'Neill.

On 41 minutes The University netted their third of the game. Pennington stepped out of defence too easily and was allowed to advance by a hesitant United defence. He spotted the run of Osiyemi and played the ball inside where the big striker finished with aplomb into the roof of the net with a first-time effort.

If United had thought their goal was a lifeline the third effort of Osiyemi's brilliant first-half hat-trick shattered that thought and gave the visitor's a convincing half-time lead.

At the break United brought on Elliott McClen for Anderson and looked a lot livelier than in the first 45-minutes. But, they still lacked a cutting edge and every time they went forward Newcastle defended comfortably.

Jacob Freemantle came on for United in place of Evan Gray allowing Fil to move forward but again although the move showed initial promise the University defence stood firm and dealt with any threat.

Newcastle were in complete control and managing the game really well. When they went forward they looked dangerous without any real penetration and in defence Pennington and Long were commanding and dominated anything Chester could muster.

Both Freemantle and Crews picked up cautions for United, Crews in a tussle with Osiyemi who was also booked as the two of them came together yet again.

In truth United were now looking highly unlikely to score or even create a chance. In fact neither side could muster a decent effort on goal although in Newcastle's case that hardly mattered as they had the lead.

The only real incident of the second half came in the dying embers of injury time and it was ignited by Newcastle's tackling that inflamed United's skipper Crews. Shodeinde came away with the ball from defence and sped away to be fouled not once but twice and both were poor tackles.

Had he not rode the first one from Browne it would have meant the second one from Josh Walton was not needed. But when Brown failed to halt Shodeinde, Walton finished off the job as the United striker threatened to break free.

This infuriated Crews who saw the red mist and steamed in sparking off a furious pushing battle that Long ran 50-yards to join in with and clashed with Crews. The referee calmed the situation down and showed yellow cards to Browne, Walton and Long for their involvement.

There was also a second yellow for Crews and he was dismissed from the field compounding his side's poor performance with a red card that was justified and administered correctly.

It was a disappointing way for United to end a game that they had been really looking forward too. Their first venture into the FA Vase had been one of the rewards that they'd desired after their promotion.

But in the end despite Newcastle having lost all their league games and perhaps being the slight underdogs they'd thoroughly out fought and battled United into submission and deservedly went through to the next round.

TEAM : 1. Matty Pattison 2. Alex Fil 3. Dylan Wilkinson 4. Taylor Campbell 5. Josh Crews (C) 6. John Anderson 7. Evan Gray 8. Ryan O'Connor 9. Benji Shodeinde 10. Dan Lanning 11. Ethan Gray

SUBS : 12 . Sam Johnson (for Wilkinson - 23 mins) 14. Jacob Freemantle (for Evan Gray - 57 mins), 15. Elliott McClen (for Anderson - 45 mins) 16. Harrison Tully (unused)

SCORER : Shodeinde 31 mins penalty

Next Up : Horden Community Welfare (Away) Tuesday 30th August.

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