by Jeff King
Wearside League - Saturday 19th March 2022
Farringdon Detached 0 v 2 Chester-le-Street United
A very, very solid afternoon's work saw Chester continue to top the Wearside League after a fine away win at Farringdon. Even more impressive was the manner in which they dealt with adversity before the game to take a deserved victory.
Already shorn of top goal scorer Cameron Brewis, influential midfielder Louis Watts and pastures-new bound Michael Spellman, United were hit by two further blows prior to the game.
United were surprised to have Ebenezer Addo decide to transfer to Step 3 Isthmian League side Cheshunt FC the day before the game and then ever-present Jaden Timmis lost that tag picking up an injury midweek. With George Riley and Abdullah Alawahadi also out injured it meant a re-shuffling of the pack.
Up from the Park View Academy youth squads came 17-year-old defender Dylan Wilkinson and two 16-year-olds, attacking wide left midfielder Ethan Gray and forward Daniel Lanning. For Lanning it was a senior debut whilst Wilkinson and Gray were making their first full starts for the Club.
There was even a return to the bench for Jak McKinley. A player that Chester had not seen since he decided last year, after making a great start to the campaign, to make himself unavailable although United decided to hold on to his registration.
Whether the enforced changes meant United were slow to come to terms with their formation or whether it was Farringdon just the quicker out of the blocks the home side clearly made the better start.
Early possession saw them create a great opportunity for Jordan Alexander inside the Chester box but he pulled his shot well wide from a great position. Alexander then took a free kick just inside the Chester half.
His well placed delivery to the back post saw Farringdon's top scorer and captain Connor Gales detach himself from the United defence but he could only direct his header wide of the target when he perhaps should have done better.
Wilkinson was already showing up well in the Chester defence. Strong in the tackle and the air his distribution of the ball was also effective as he settled into role well. On the left Gray got into the game when he took an excellent long ball from Taylor Robinson in to his path.
His fine run saw him put a dangerous cross into the home box. Lanning looked to get on the end of the cross but just went slightly early and was flagged offside by the assistant.
Chester were beginning to find there feet and their passes were becoming more incisive. Neat build-up play saw Ryan Muldoon sweep the ball wide to Gray. He played a good ball inside to find Jay Gibson.
Gibson moved it on to James Bakou on the right and his cross was met by Lanning with a stooping header that was just wide of the far post. It was the first meaningful effort from United who then had Muldoon booked for late tackle on a Farringdon midfielder.
Skipper Josh Crews initiated the next Chester attack with a ball up to Lanning on half-way who's superb first-time flick sent Gibson free. Gibson switched play to right and found Bakou who's cross was deflected for a corner. The corner from Robinson was well cleared by a powerful header from Matty Stephenson.
Just before the half-hour mark Chester were indebted to a brilliant covering tackle from Gray who came across from his position on the left flank to deny Rob Thompson an almost certain free route to goal.
Unfortunately Gray's bravery ended his game as he had to be carried from the field in distress after lengthy treatment. Lewis Lembikisa coming on in his place. From the corner taken by Alexander, Crews headed away under pressure to helpout Mauro Asikaogu in the Chester goal.
The injury seemed to stifle both sides although Chester were playing some neat football in the middle of the park they couldn't make much inroad to the Detached defence. United's defence also were well in control when Farringdon came forward.
The last opportunity of the half came from good interplay between Gales and Thompson for the home side but Elliot Day was alert to the danger and snuffed out the chance with a good defensive intervention.
Stalemate at the half and probably the right score line. The game had been competitive on both sides with both defences playing well and little opportunity for either side to force an opening.
As the second half got underway it was United that started to force the pace. A brilliant ball over the top from Wilkinson put Gibson away and in space. The striker spotted Aidan Mutch advancing off his line and lifted the ball over the keeper's outstretched arms.
Unfortunately for Gibson and his team the ball bounced agonisingly wide of the far post with the goal gaping. It was though a sign of things to come. United's central midfield three of Muldoon, Josh Ward and the excellent Robinson were now in control of the game.
It lead to the deadlock being broken on 51 minutes and what a goal it was for the league leaders. Robinson picked up a loose ball and jinked inside his marker. Looking up he saw a chance to shoot open up and he hit a fantastic shot from twenty five yards that flew into the top corner giving Mutch no chance.
It was an outstanding effort and reflected the dominance United were now showing. They poured forward and earned a corner on the Farringdon left. Robinson delivered a dangerous ball right under the cross bar.
Mutch did manage to catch the ball but then seemingly stepped back into the net and realising his position dropped the ball which was then scrambled into the back of the net. The referee blew and Chester celebrated a second goal before realising that a free-kick had been given to the home side much to the surprise of both sides.
Robinson then setup the next opening by finding Lanning who combined well with Gibson only for Stephenson to step in and concede a corner. Once again Robinson's delivery was dangerous with the ball flicking off the cross bar and bouncing away to safety.
Although United were in control, at 1 - 0 Detached were still in the contest although due to the defensive work of Crews, Day and Wilkinson they had been unable to trouble Asikaogo in the United goal.
Day then advanced purposefully from the back to find Gibson who laid the ball back into the path of Robinson and his fine curling effort only just went the wrong side of the cross bar.
Lanning then showed his ability by wriggling away from a couple of defenders and then hit the target with a nice low drive that Mutch got down well to make a routine save.
Chester needed though to put the game to bed and did so with five minutes remaining on the clock. Lanning played a neat pass inside to Muldoon who showed good skill and composure to get to the by-line before pulling the ball back into the six-yard area.
The hard-working and ever-willing Gibson read Muldoon's intentions perfectly to get on the end of the pull-back and stroke the ball home for his tenth goal of the season. It was a lovely goal and one that sealed the points for United without any further alarms nor additional chances.
So, United march on. Despite all their absentees they still showed good control of the game and deserved their win in the end. The debutants and youngsters who came in all did well further enhancing the Park View Academy and it's conveyor belt of talent.
TEAM : 1. Mauro Asikaogu 2. Dylan Wilkinson 3. Elliot Day 4. Taylor Robinson 5. Josh Crews (c) 6. Josh Ward 7. James Bakou 8. Ryan Muldoon 9. Jay Gibson 10. Dan Lanning 11. Ethan Gray
SUBS : 12. Alex Nicholson 13. Arthur Leblond 14. Lewis Lembikisa 15. Jak McKinay 16. Alex Fil
SCORERS : Robinson, Gibson