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Star In The Ascendency As United Fail At Home Again

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Wednesday 24th April 2024

Chester-le-Street United 0 v 2 Newcastle Blue Star

United's continuing home woes continued as they feel to a 14th League defeat at The Riverside on Wednesday night. Of the 39 points Chester have picked up this season only 14 have come at home. Something they need to address next campaign.

This latest defeat was in truth a tough, tough game against a Newcastle Blue Star side that are now destined to finish second in the table. Star are probably also favourites to win through the playoffs and join Blyth Town in Division One.

For United a season of struggle is drawing to an end and whilst there's no doubting that they would like a higher League placing it is still quite an achievement for such a young squad to retain Northern League status.

There were two changes to the United line-up that had demolished Washington 8 - 1 at The Ford Quarry Hub last Friday night. Liam Paul and Harvey Rudd returning to the side and the defence in place of Riley Everett and Dylan Robson.

Everett and Robson being unavailable as they joined their fellow Under-17's for United's showpiece game against Carlisle United at Brunton Park that was being played at the same time.

United had the first effort on goal inside two minutes when Captain Dylan Wilkinson showing his versatility by playing in midfield advanced and shot from 25-yards out but the ball was always rising as it went wide and high.

Star's response was a lovely move started down with Rio Joisce's taking Harry Barclay's ball down the right flank. He played it inside to Connor Oliver who transferred it wide left to Phil Bright.

His cross though from the wing into the middle saw James Hughes in the home goal come off his line well to claim the ball cleanly under pressure from Tom Potter.

Kobe Bewicke was then fouled by a very robust Oliver some 22-yards from goal. Bewicke electing to shoot from the resultant free kick but he put his effort well wide of the target.

Star countered again and this time in the sixth minute opened the scoring with a goal that United should perhaps have dealt with better. A long ball over the top by Shaun Ryder caught the defence square and Rudd's attempted clearing header fell to Regan Paterson.

Paterson controlled the ball well inside the box and advanced as he wasn't closed down to 10-yards from goal where he despatched a low firm left-foot drive that was right in the corner of the goal giving Hughes no chance.

Rudd tried to atone for his error when advancing down the right he found Charlie Loveday with a good wide pass. Loveday taking the ball to the by-line before crossing deep to the back post where Jacob Mallinson was waiting.

However, Mallinson was denied a chance to test Phil Mills in the Blue Star goal by Barclay who got to the cross first and headed the ball out for a corner. Ryan O'Connor played it short to Loveday who passed it across the box.

The ball finding Ollie Barnett 8-yards out but the centre back opted for attempted placement rather than power and Mills was able to save easily. Star were controlling the game comfortably and were largely untroubled.

They almost doubled their lead on 28 minutes. Oliver slipping the overlapping Barclay inside the United area. He pulled the ball back to Joisce who smashed it goal wards from 10-yards out only to be denied by a brilliant reaction Hughes save.

Joisce's resultant corner was deep and found Ryder at the back post unmarked but he couldn't direct his header on target and the chance was lost. Hughes then almost blotted his copybook with a bad error.

Outside his box and attempting to pass to Jack Ledger he gave the ball away to former Chester and Park View Academy striker Dan Lanning. With the goal unguarded Lanning put his 30-yard attempted effort horribly wide of the target.

Star though were on the attack and forced a corner on the right with Wilkinson beating Joisce to a loose ball. Potter took it and saw Hughes come flying through the air to punch the ball clear of his area in spectacular style.

Paterson returned the ball into the 18-yard box finding Lanning who tried a a first time effort on the half-turn that Paul did well to block and then clear. Lanning then also went close moments later with his thunderous 22-yard shot going wide.

Blue Star were certainly in the ascendency as the half ended when a good attack down the left initiated by Bright and Paterson almost saw Ryder get in behind and around the back of the United box but he put his cross straight out of play.

The half ended with the visitor's well on top, looking full value for their lead which they controlled well and also had chances to add to. United on the other hand after a promising start had faded.

As the second half got underway United replaced Rudd with Dan Robinson in a straight swap at right back. Nothing much happened for a while. Plenty of endeavour and commitment from both side's but little goalmouth action.

When Star created the next chance it came almost from nothing. Potter's hopeful long and high prod forward caught Robinson on the wrong side of Paterson who controlled it beautifully with a great first touch that took him clear.

He advanced on goal but was denied his second of the game by a superb blocking save from Hughes. The ball rebounded in the danger area and after a scramble Lanning saw his shot blocked well by Barnett.

United had not been able to make inroads on the Newcastle box but good play by O'Connor almost created an opening. From wide on the left he produced a lovely low cross that found Loveday 8-yards out but the Chester attacker could only stab it wide.

In a game of few chances it was Blue Star that took the next one with 5 minutes of the 90 remaining. United were pushing forward and were once again undone by a long ball over the top by Barclay.

The ball falling to Lanning just outside the box who advanced into the area where Barnett couldn't close him down. Lanning showed unerring coolness as he fired home from 12 yards past Hughes' dive for his 30th league goal of the season.

In their very next attack Blue Star almost snatched a third goal from distance. Oliver it was that smashed a superb 30-yard piledriver that beat Hughes all ends up but saw it crash back off the underside of the bar.

It was the last effort of note and fittingly it was a visiting effort as they had been the more enterprising team. They showed exactly why they are second in the table throughout with a controlled, disciplined 90-minute effort.

United will once again look to improve their poor home record with their next fixture which sees Billingham Synthonia travel to The Riverside for Chester's last home game of the season on Saturday afternoon.

TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Harvey Rudd 3. Jack Ledger 4. Liam Paul 5. Dylan Wilkinson 6. Ollie Barnett 7. Charlie Loveday 8. Ryan O'Connor 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Jude Anderson 11. Jacob Mallinson

SUBS : 12. Dan Robinson (for Rudd 46 mins) 14. Reyhan Grimaud - DNP 15. Joe Sykes (for Ledger 72 mins) 16. Ben Glendinning - DNP

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