by Jeff King
FA Youth Challenge Cup First Round Proper - Wednesday 1st November 2023 Chester-le-Street United 2 v 0 Guiseley AFC
Chester-le-Street United made history on Wednesday night reaching the Second Round Proper of the FA Youth Challenge Cup. Their fantastic run in this season's competition continued as a hard fought disciplined performance saw them through.
Due to the inclement weather and the unplayable nature of The Riverside pitch the game had to switched at relatively short notice to the Ford Quarry Football Hub. Chester-le-Street United would like thank The Ford Hub, Guiseley AFC and The FA for helping us to facilitate this change.
United made three changes to the side that had knocked out Pontefract Collieries on penalties in the last round. James Hughes having to replacing Kieran Harwood in goal due to an administration error beyond the Club's control.
16-year-old Keane Mitchell got the nod over Jonathan Beattie at right back to make his first start at this level and Charlie Loveday who has been out injured for a while replaced the injured Dan Robinson.
Ben Lawton a Park View Academy attendee and now officially a Chester player following his transfer from Sunderland West End continued as well as player made his first start in that capacity continuing his role in the competition.
The game got off to a sensational start and a superb one for United as they took the lad inside three minutes with their first meaningful attack. Charlie Bunton was fouled wide on the left some 4o yards from goal and Michael Mallaburn took the free-kick.
He floated it to the back post where Guiseley keeper Callum Bradley called for the ball went up but fumbled it behind him. It dropped to Emanuel Igiehon who did really well to knock it back inside the six-yard box where Jude Anderson was on hand to smash it high into the next from close range.
Guiseley were rocked but hit back well to test United on a few occasions. Their first chance falling when United skipper Jack Ledger made an early mistake, his only one of the night, when he gave possession away to Oliver Storr.
Storr clipped a cross to the back post where Jack Mason was completely unmarked but he couldn't get up high enough to get a header in on goal. Then Mitchell played a square ball across the pitch which was intercepted by Kyle Burrows.
He found Danyaal Khan on the edge of United's box and the visiting centre forward showed great footwork to get the ball into a shooting position but fired inches wide of the United goal.
Storr then had an excellent effort from fully 25-yards that just flew wide of Hughes' left hand upright as Guiseley searched for an equaliser. United replied with a good combination between Bunton and Loveday.
Loveday showed really neat footwork after being found well be Bunton and drove a shot low to Bradbury's left that he did well to get down to save at the foot of the post in neat style.
Then a long throw-in from Mitchell on the right saw Anderson get a flicked header on target from about 8-yards out but it was an easy save for the well positioned Bradbury.
A long diagonal ball from Guiseley's defence almost caught United napping as Kimarnt Miller collected and burst clear. His angle was tight but his shot was still well hit and on target but Hughes got his angles right to make a fine save.
Miller had another go minutes later when Harry Marr tripped Max Dickinson 22 yards from goal. The left back stepping up and driving the free kick past the wall but again Hughes was well placed to get down to save.
Khan then did really well showing great control and awareness on the right before hitting a dangerous low ball across the United box only to see Hughes collect well before any Guiseley attacker could take advantage.
Although Guiseley perhaps had the upper hand for the majority of the half United could have killed off the tie almost on the half-time whistle. Ledger's long ball finding Loveday who showed great control before darting into the box.
Loveday was one-on-one with Bradbury but the Guiseley keeper stood firm, narrowed the angle quickly and made an excellent block to deny United a second goal.
The half ended with one final flourish from the visitors. Marley Spence bursting forward from right back before smashing a 20-yard effort wide of the mark which Hughes had covered.
At half-time Anderson's early strike was the difference between the two sides and whilst Guiseley had looked dangerous and perhaps shaded the half, Loveday's last chance could have virtually clinched the game for United.
Mason had been a good outlet for Guiseley on the left and he almost levelled the tie two minutes into the second half. Found well be a searching ball from Miller he did well to control and then cut inside before firing in a great effort that Hughes did brilliantly to get down too and save at his left-hand post.
The next chance for Guiseley came from a short corner routine where Burrows played it short to Miller who drove into the United box but his fierce shot was well blocked by Marr who had ready the situation well.
United made a substitution just on the hour mark with Beattie coming on for Mitchell. The game was now becoming more even as United still holding that one-goal lead began to test Guiseley and once again were inches away from doubling their lead.
The chance came on 66 minutes. Ledger's throw-in reaching Anderson who flicked the ball into the path of Bunton. He took a touch then hit a great on target effort that produced a brilliant reflex save from Bradbury to keep the ball out.
Then a great low long ball from Harvey Rudd almost put Loveday in on goal. His run being blocked by Lewin Storton with the ball falling to Bunton who was unable to direct a shot on goal.
A lightening counter attack from Guiseley saw Mason almost play Storr through but Igiehon was quicker and got across to intercept and clear the danger. Storr then went very close with a 20-yard curler from the inside left channel that just drifted wide.
Bunton had been withdrawn for Kymani Severin for United who, as the game entered the final minutes, were looking more and more comfortable. The back four standing firm time and time again and the rest of the side controlling possession well.
The crucial moment in the tie arrived on 86 minutes as United swept into an unassailable two-goal lead with an excellent goal. There seemed little danger when Lawton came inside from the right and drifted across the pitch.
But Lawton had other ideas and from about 20-yards out smashed a brilliant low left foot shot that beat Bradbury's dive all ends up and sealed the deal for the home side.
Guiseley did have one further late, late chance to grab a consolation when the excellent Mason put substitute Jack Lorriman through on goal but once again Hughes stood firm and made an excellent block at close quarters to keep the visitors out.
At the final whistle the Guiseley players slumped to the ground in despair as United's players, coaches, officials and supporters celebrated a historic victory. It had been a hard-fought competitive game but ultimately a victorious one for Chester.
Lewis Pendleton, Chairman of Chester-le-Street and Director of Sport at Park View Academy summed up his feelings at the end of the game as The Club continued their run and advanced in the competition.
"Our players and coaches made history by qualifying for the Second Round Proper of the FA Youth Challenge Cup. A truly great achievement. We believe we may be one of the lowest tier ranked teams, if not the lowest, left in the competition." "We have great faith in our coaching and the environment we provide for players that were not offered scholarships. We look forward to the next round and hopefully another win."
"Huge credit goes to Michael Nelson and Connor McHugh who are leading the FA Youth Cup squad and of course to the players themselves for responding to that lead. These are exciting times for our Club."
Now, all at Chester-le-Street United wait with bated breath for the draw and who they might be drawn against with several big EFL Division 1 and 2 sides still in the competition.
TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Keane Mitchell 3. Jack Ledger (c) 4. Harry Marr 5. Harvey Rudd 6. Emanuel Igiehon 7. Ben Lawton 8. Michael Mallaburn 9. Jude Anderson 10. Charlie Loveday 11. Charlie Bunton SUBS : 12. Leo Fasuan - DNP 13. Rylie Irwn - DNP 14. Nathan Conroy - DNP 15. Joe Walls - DNP 16. Kymani Severin (for Bunton 78 mins) 17. Jonathan Beattie (for Mitchell 58 mins) 18. Daniel Walton - DNP
SCORERS : Anderson 3 mins, Lawton 86 mins.