by Jeff King
Wearside League - Saturday 23rd October 2021
Durham Corinthians 0 v 4 Chester-le-Street United
For the second weekend running United came away with a 4 - 0 away win in the Wearside League. This time Durham Corinthians were the victims of an excellent all-round team performance from a very impressive Chester side.
Going into the game Corinthians had only lost twice in the league and sat just two places below United in the league table. It suggested a tough encounter for Chester's youngsters. But by the end of the 90 minutes it was a comfortable three points gained after a committed performance.
United made two changes from the side that has won 4 - 0 last time out at Coxhoe Athletic. With George Riley and Jak McKinley unavailable Taylor Robinson and Louis Watts came into the side. Watts for his first start in Chester colours. Jaden Timmis moving back in to the three-man defence.
There was also a welcome return to the bench for Miles Fox who hadn't been involved with the first-team squad since breaking an ankle last season in the Alan Hood Charity Cup semi-final.
The game started brightly with both sides looking lively in the early going. The first half chance fell the way of United. Jay Gibson showed great strength to get on to Elliott Day's clearance but was well blocked by Harry Spence before he could get a shot away.
Great play from Cameron Brewis and Watts set Micky Spellman away down the left and his dangerous cross was well cleared by Joe Wilkinson for the home side. Corinthians then had a great chance to take the lead on ten minutes.
Dan Weaver's lovely reverse pass split the Chester defence and put Steven Telford through on goal but the striker's finish was poor and Arthur Leblond in the United goal made a comfortable save.
On fourteen minutes Chester opened the scoring after enterprising play from Day. He took possession of Spellman's throw-in midway inside the Durham half and then drove into the box after playing a lovely one-two with the same player.
As he turned inside to create room he was upended by Kieron Richardson and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped penalty king Brewis to send Hodgson the wrong way with his left foot spot-kick and United were one-up.
The home side's response came from a long free-kick by Captain Max Stoker that found the head of Josh Harker who could only direct his header straight at Leblond. Another Corinthians free-kick minutes later saw Ryan Bolam float an effort narrowly over the bar with Leblond beaten by the flight.
Corinthians had done well and shown good spirit to stay well in the game although Chester were having the bulk of possession and in wide men Ebenezer Addo and Spellman had two players well capable of stretching the home defence.
Spellman once again showed his pace down the left crossing well to the back post for Gibson who spurned the chance from six-yards out not making the right connection with his header as the ball slid well wide.
Just before the half-hour mark Corinthians came very close to an equaliser. Richardson coming forward on the right from defence found Will Gibbon just outside the box. The midfielder hit a terrific shot that Leblond flung himself at.
The ball though evaded both his outstretched hand and the crossbar skimming inches over the top. Gibbon felt Leblond had got a touch to his effort but the referee ruled that it was a goal kick to United.
At the other end Brewis showed great vision when picking the ball up some 40 yards from goal. Spotting Hodgson way off his line he tried his luck from distance but the ball drifted well wide of the intended target.
The home side then missed a great chance to equalise which they would later regret. Weaver did well initially to set-up a chance for Gibbon. His fierce cross shot was well parried by Leblond but fell to Weaver inside the six-yard box but he couldn't keep his first-time effort down and it flew over the bar.
Day and Gibbon then tangled when competing for a Corinthians defence clearance. Gibbon broke clear despite Day's challenge and raced in on goal. His low shot was well hit towards the bottom left corner of the goal but Leblond in fine form dived across and turned the shot away in great style.
Chester almost doubled their lead as the game approached half-time. Gibson won a free-kick just outside the area on the left. Spellman took it and found Day coming in at pace at the back post. The defender struck his shot well but was thwarted by a brilliant blocking save from Hodgson.
Right on half-time there was an unsavoury incident that sparked a stand-off between the two dugouts. Ryan Muldoon was alleged to have aimed verbal abuse at the Assistant Referee and the Corinthians bench exploded in anger.
They forced the Assistant in to talking with the man in the middle who took Chester skipper Josh Crews and Muldoon aside for a long talking too. In the end there was no action taken on Muldoon despite the continuing loud protestations of the Corinthians bench.
Both sets of players left the field with words being exchanged and spectators getting involved in a heated discussion which spiced things up nicely for the second half to come.
The second forty-five minutes began with a neat move from Durham. Weaver's cross from the left was neatly headed into the path of Telford by Harker but Crews who marshalled his defence superbly all afternoon got in quickly to make a great clearance.
The second goal that Chester craved arrived on 53 minutes. Watts found Spellman on the left with an incisive ball from midfield. Spellman steadied himself before firing in a low cross towards the six-yard box. Muldoon timing his run superbly got in front of the home defence and Hodgson, flicking the ball home to make it 2 - 0.
It was now all Chester as they really started knocking the ball around with style prompted by the midfield duo of Muldoon and Watts. Spellman and Brewis were pulling the home defence around and Gibson was making some strong runs at the axis of the United attack.
Brewis turned well in the inside left channel floating a ball into the Durham box. Spellman flicked it on with his head to Gibson who nodded goal wards but Hodgson made a brilliant parry to keep the ball out.
Gibson then turned provider showing real strength to hold the ball up before slipping Brewis in on goal. Chester's top scorer dinked a brilliant chip over the stranded Hodgson but was so unlucky to see the crossbar deny him a brilliant goal.
The home side made changes to try and stem the flow of the United attack but it was to no avail as United stormed into a three-goal lead on 73 minutes. Brewis sent Addo speeding away on the right and his cross into the box was not dealt with by the home defence.
The ball fell to Brewis ten yards from goal and the Chester striker lashed home his fourteenth goal of a productive season so far with a low shot to the bottom left corner of the net.
United were really in the mood now and pouring forward at every opportunity. Muldoon having a great game in midfield drove forward before picking out Spellman inside the box. His first time effort was brilliantly parried by home keeper Hodgson on to the post and Richardson cleared the loose ball.
But, Chester were not to be denied and scored their fourth of the afternoon a mere three minutes after the third. It was Muldoon the taker from Spellman the maker. Great closing down by Gibson and Watts on Hodgson saw the keeper only partially clear.
The ball fell to Spellman who may have tried his luck himself with Hodgson out of position. But he spotted Muldoon running into the box and unselfishly fed the midfielder who side-footed home coolly into the empty net.
The fourth goal ended whatever resistance Durham mat have hoped to raise and sparked a flurry of substitutions for United. Robinson, Gibson, Addo and Watts were all replaced. Fox, Abdullah Alawahdi, Lewis Lembikisa and Alex Nicholson all coming on in their places.
As in the previous game at Coxhoe the substitutes took time to adjust to the pace and pattern of the game but they did not allow Durham back into the game as time was played out with Chester well worth their convincing win.
This was undoubtedly one of the best performances of the season from the young United side. Their opponents were tough and physical and carried a threat of their own which Chester snuffed out with solid defence, bright enterprising midfield play and calm clinical finishing up front.
If Chester can maintain this sort of form and level of performance they could well be challenging really hard for honours in the second half of the season.
TEAM : 1. Arthur Leblond 2. Jaden Timmis 3. Elliott Day 4. Louis Watts 5. Josh Crews (c) 6. Taylor Robinson 7. Ebenezer Addo 8. Ryan Muldoon 9. Jay Gibson 10. Cameron Brewis 11. Micky Spellman
SUBS : 12. Abdullah Alawahdi for Gibson 13. Aymeric Vidot not used 14. Miles Fox for Robinson 15. Lewis Lembikisa for Addo 16. Alex Nicholson for Watts
SCORERS : Brewis 2 (1 pen) Muldoon 2