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Ultras Delight As United Set Ford Hub Alight

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Friday 19th April 2024 Washington 1 v 8 Chester-le-Street United

A third game in just five days and this time at The Ford Quarry Football Hub which has become the home for Washington F.C. following the continuing problems with their own pitch.

The Hub is familiar territory for United. Most of their home games were played there last season and in the three games United had so far played there this season they had a two wins one draw record.

After tonight's game make that three wins and a draw as the comprehensively trashed a beleaguered Washington side that now look destined to finish second bottom of the table.

For United the win does not move them any further up the Division but it does make the gap between themselves in 4th bottom and the bottom three considerably greater.

Despite only having a game 48 hours previously Manager John Gamble only made two changes to his starting XI that had played against Newcastle University. Jude Anderson coming in up front with Jack Wilson dropping to the bench and Ollie Barnett returning in place of Liam Paul after missing Wednesday's clash.

Despite Washington's lowly position in the table both this season and last they hadn't lost to United in the three previous league encounters. That was all about to change. Gamble had demanded a fast start from his side and that's exactly what he got.

They attacked from the first whistle and had Washington scrambling to keep them out right from the start as they zipped the ball about on the 3G surface and matched that with the movement on and off the ball.

Inside the first two minutes Jack Ledger's incisive long ball into the inside left channel gave Jude Anderson a clear run at goal. From 14-yards he hit a fine angled drive that David Mighten in the Washington goal parry well to keep out.

Washington did respond when the dangerous Bailey Rhodes let fly from 20 yards but the shot was straight at James Hughes who saved easily. It was a counter attack from the 'home' side that became a rarity.

Riley Everett who had impressed against Newcastle University from right back looked ready again as he galloped on the overlap onto Ryan O'Connor's good pass out wide.

The cross was excellent and saw Jacob Mallinson arrive late drifting in from the left who cushioned a side-foot volley from barely 6-yards out that beat Mighten but cannoned back into play off the bar. It was a glorious chance missed.

Everett was the provider of the next Chester chance again finding Mallinson in the box who this time got a header on target in the centre of the box but Mighten was well placed to save easily.

United were awarded a free kick when Charlie Loveday was upended By Beau Beresford. O'Connor delivered from about 40 yards out only to see Kyle Dixon head clear where Loveday picked the loose ball up.

He played a clever ball to the left finding his Captain Dylan Wilkinson who had stayed up with the attack on the left. Wilkinson's cross being deflected wide for a corner off Sam Irwin.

O'Connor played it short to Loveday who returned it and O'Connor went past his marker and delivered a great ball to the back post where the late arriving Wilkinson headed it just wide on the stretch.

United were exerting great pressure on the Washington back four and O'Connor almost put Mallinson in on goal with Lewis Johnson saving the day with a timely interception. The resulting corner taken by O'Connor was easily cleared.

Chester's exuberance and enthusiasm to throw players forward almost cost them dearly as they got caught pushing men forward when a clearance from the Washington defence sent Joseph Abrahart speeding towards the United goal.

Hughes came to narrow the angle and forced Abrahart into firing a low shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post. It sparked the best period of the game thus far from Washington.

Bewicke was penalised for handball when a ball was played up to him near the centre circle. Benjamin Gibbon played the free kick short to Abrahart who decided to shoot from fully 30 yards but it was straight at Hughes who saved comfortably.

Then United lost the ball in a bad position which led to a swift counter attack from Washington that ended in Abrahart again trying his luck from the edge of the area. The ball deflecting wide off Barnett for a corner.

The corner was swung in by Gibbin only for Wilkinson to head it out for another. The second delivery was closer to the goal line but Hughes in commanding form came off the line to claim the ball well.

If that little spell in an all action first 20 minutes had encouraged Washington they were rocked back when United took lead at that juncture. Loveday the creator with a lovely through ball for Bewicke to run on to beating the offside trap.

The flag stayed down and Bewicke showed terrific composure to advance into the box draw Mighten from his line before sliding his effort from about 12-yards unerringly into the bottom corner.

The floodgates had opened. Loveday showed terrific footwork to fashion an opening and find Dylan Robson. He in turn moved the ball onto Anderson on the left who whipped in a low cross that Bewicke narrowly failed to get a telling touch on at the far post.

It was a temporary reprieve only for Washington as on 23 minutes United doubled their lead. The newly formed Chester Ultras making a huge noise in the stands were delighted to see their favourite Loveday being the marksman.

Robson with the ball wide to the overlapping Ledger. His low cross was almost bundled home by Bewicke but Mighten clawed it away from right on the line. The ball though fell kindly for United to Loveday who drilled it home from close range.

A quiet ten-minute period was interrupted when Washington almost pulled a goal back. Sam Porthouse showing good control in the box before laying the ball into the path of Nathan Kidd 12-yards from goal.

He struck a sweet rising shot that looked destined for the top corner until a superb flying reactive diving Hughes brilliantly turned the ball over the bar to make a world class save.

The importance of the save was magnified when United struck a third goal on 37 minutes. United attacked down the left and wo a throw-in. Quick thinking by Bewicke saw him take it and release Anderson past the Washington defence.

Anderson burst into the box and without hesitating smashed a rising left foot angled shot from around 14-yards high past the helpless Mighten and into the roof of the net. A classic striker's finish.

Washington looked shell-shocked and almost conceded a fourth in United's next attack set-up and almost finished by Ledger. Firstly he intercepted a stray pass deep in his own half and set off into the opposition half playing the ball up to Bewicke.

The striker held the ball up beautifully and then laid it through for Ledger to continue his run which ended just inside the box with a low shot that beat Mighten but unfortunately for Ledger and United it beat the far post also.

But United didn't have to wait long for that fourth goal which came on 41 minutes. Loveday picking the ball up some 25-yards out from goal and showing neat footwork to give himself a shooting opportunity that he smashed at goal.

The ball beat Mighten all ends up but bounced back into the box off the underside of the cross bar. Anderson though was alert and quickest to the loose ball and had been well onside when the initial shot was taken.

Showing great composure he steadied himself and crashed the loose ball home past the stranded Mighten who had no time or chance to recover.

4 - 0 then became 5 - 0 on the stroke of half-time as United went nap. Mallinson released Ledger on the overlap and he did superbly well to reach the ball before it went over the by-line and crossed it deep into the area.

Dixon tried to clear the cross but his header only fell to Bewicke who was able to find the net with a cool clinical finish to complete a superb half for the the 'visitors' who had been ruthless in their execution and approach.

That said Washington should have got one back before the half-time whistle wen Porthouse was clean through on goal with only Hughes to beat. Perhaps the presence of Hughes unsettled him though as he smashed his shot miles wide.

Unsurprisingly as the teams lined up for the second half United were unchanged but Washington weren't as they brought on all five substitutes at the break even though it emptied their bench!

It didn't seem to matter initially as Robson found Bewicke in the inside right channel and he held off Dixon before rifling his right foot effort from the edge of the box past Mighten but only unluckily into the side netting.

Then Ledger played a short free kick to Mallinson on the left and he tried a long-range effort that was on target but saw Mighten get down at his near post to save comfortably.

Three of the Washington substitutes combined well in a rapid counter attack that almost brought them a goal. Ethan Oswald putting the speedy Ozibes Sa Da Silva away on the right wing.

His cross into the middle was met perfectly on the half-volley by the fast arriving Flavio Silva but once again Hughes reacted brilliantly in the United goal to make a superb block that had The Ultras singing his name.

Robson then picked up a booking for upending another substitute Dan O'Reilly just outside the United box. Rhodes stepping up to take the free kick that beat the wall but not Hughes in the United goal who saved easily.

United had been quite and made a couple of substitutions to freshen things up with Michael Mallaburn coming on for Mallinson and Jack Wilson replacing two-goal Anderson. The changes brought the spark needed as Chester made it 6 - 0.

It came on 73 minutes for once on a Chester counter attack. Washington had been pushing forward but Barnett cleared his lines well finding Bewicke who held the ball up well getting into the box and then laying the ball back to Loveday.

The United attacking midfielder wasted no time at all and struck his right-foot effort from 14-yards across Mighten and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. It was the spark United needed to kick on once again.

The seventh goal came barely two minutes later and it was a hat-trick for United's now to scorer Bewick who netted his ninth goal for United in cool style after being found unmarked in the box by substitute Wilson.

It was Bewicke's last action as he trotted off before the restart to be replaced by Nathan Conroy. And it was Conroy who took advantage of Mighten's inability to clear a back pass that made it 8 - 0 on 86 minutes.

The under siege Washington goalkeeper had looked suspect on the back pass all night as United had pressed him. This time his hesitation cost him as Conroy dispossessed him and placed the ball into the gaping Washington net.

Somehow, and credit to them, Washington did manage to dredge up a couple of final efforts and actually found a very fortunate consolation goal at the death to the surprise of many.

Firstly Wilkinson went for a header just inside his own half but was beaten to the ball by Oswald who did seem to impede him. Nothing was given and O'Reilly found himself clean through on goal but he dragged the good chance wide of the far post.

The consolation though did come with virtually the last kick of the game and it was a disappointing end for Hughes in particular who had once again been in fine form for his side when called upon.

A cross from the right by O'Reilly saw Sa Da Silva get in a header that Hughes stopped but fumbled. He still looked to have time to pick up the ball but delayed and was surprised by Rhodes who sneaked in and tapped the loose ball home.

A slight blemish on an otherwise superb night for United and one that showed once again that they can more than live at this level. It was also nice to see so many in attendance from Chester-le-Street supporting the team.

Kobe Bewick got Man of the Match but those Ultras in the spectator stands who sang from minute one to ninety were great entertainment as well and perhaps deserved an award of their own as the players celebrated in front of them.

TEAM : 1. James Hughes 2. Riley Everett 3. Jack Ledger 4. Dylan Robson 5. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 6. Ollie Barnett 7. Charlie Loveday 8. Ryan O'Connor 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Jude Anderson 11. Jacob Mallinson

SUBS : 12. Michael Mallaburn (for Mallinson 60 mins) 14. Liam Paul - DNP 15. Ashton Houlahan - DNP 16. Nathan Conroy (for Bewicke 76 mins) 17. Jack Wilson (for Anderson 74 mins)

SCORERS :Bewicke 20, 45, 75 mins - Anderson 37, 41 mins - Loveday 23, 73 mins - Conroy 86 mins.

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