by Jeff King
Durham Challenge Cup - Tuesday 22nd November 2022
Spennymoor Town 8 v 0 Chester-le-Street United
One of those nights to forget rather than remember with any fondness for United as they crashed out of the Durham FA Challenge Cup in spectacular style. The game, slightly controversially, was arranged at very short notice following the postponement seven days earlier.
The powers that be were insistent that United played the game at barely 24 hours' notice giving the young inexperienced Chester side little time for preparation. If the game had been played on the original date, then United would probably have faced a different looking Moors outfit.
That was because the original game was due to be played before Moors FA Trophy tie against Runcorn Linnets. Spennymoor manager Jason Ainsley had intended playing a younger less experienced side on the original date with the Trophy game in the offering.
However, having dispatched Runcorn Linnets 3 – 2 on the Saturday, Ainsley made the decision to mix youth with experience sending out a strong looking line-up to face United on the night.
It proved to be the correct decision as The Moors players responded to their manager’s selection by ruthlessly putting United to the sword. The National League North side, two divisions above United showed their superiority and know-how in fine style to go through to the quarter finals of the competition.
Moors started well and on 5 minutes, Niall Short showed great pace and strength to win possession inside the United box, but his shot was parried away by Keiron Harwood in the United goal.
United’s first foray forward in a night when they would have little joy in attack came on 11 minutes. Dan Robinson’s deflected effort won them a corner. Taylor Campbell curled the kick into the danger area but Town keeper Harry Flatters came off his line with authority and collected comfortably.
The opening goal came on 13 minutes from a swift Moors counter-attack. Riley Mouat set Elliot Foster away down the left and his low cross was turned home by Niall Short from close range. Nine minutes later it was 2 – 0.
Joe Wheatley slipped a lovely ball through the United defence for Reece Kendall to run on to and he slotted a clinical finish past the helpless Harwood. There was no respite at all for Chester as Moors kept coming forward in waves.
On 26 minutes, Kendall doubled his tally for the night and made it 3-0 as he got on the end of Short's low cross from the left to finish neatly. Three minutes late Spennymoor were out of sight.
The fourth coming when Michael Ledger, older brother of United’s Jack, found Owen Bray who squared the ball in the box for Foster to sweep home first time. The home team were not finished yet and with 11 minutes to go to half-time made it a nap hand with their fifth.
Short picking the ball up on the edge of the box turned brilliantly, moved the ball on to his right foot and drilled in his second goal of the night. It ended the scoring for the first half as Chester held on to half-time without further damage.
United did show some character as they opened the second half with some decent possession but couldn’t find a cutting edge to their play to trouble a home side in such dominating mood.
Eventually Moors superiority came back to the fore and on 56 minutes they made it 6 – 0 and it was a hat-trick goal for Short as he curled home a lovely finish from the edge of the box. Two minutes later Chester had their only effort on target in the game.
Jay Gibson combined with Sam Johnson on the edge of the Spennymoor penalty area and Johnson’s low effort was well struck but was well held by Moors keeper Harry Flatters who got down well at his near post.
The goal of the game which give Spennymoor their seventh came on 69 minutes. From a Chester throw Moors won the ball and it was picked up by young Riley Mouat who made ground unchallenged to rifle an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 25-yards.
There was even time for that eight goal which came with ten minutes to go. This time it was Foster who found space on the left of the area and smashed his shot past Harwood to complete the 8 – 0 rout.
So, thanks must go to Spennymoor Town for agreeing to switch the game which was originally a home game for Chester. As big a game as it was, it was nice to play at a ground which shows what United are aspiring too.
Was it a good experience though in the end to be beaten so heavily? First Team Head Coach John Gamble had this to say following the game.
“It was a tough night. Defensively I felt we were very poor and gave goals away with our defenders struggling to win the first ball, but I can’t fault the lads for their work rate and effort. We need to keep positive and believe in what we are doing.”
“People will say it’s a good experience to go up against a top quality North East non-league side who play two divisions above us and to sample their ground. But losing 8 – 0 isn’t a good experience but the clever players will take it in and learn.”
The last word goes on a very difficult night to a representative from Spennymoor who had this to say.
“Fair play to your lads tonight. Kept trying to play the right way, stuck to your clear philosophy of playing out from the back regardless of the score line. Got some talented lads in that squad. All the best for the rest of the season.”
Nice words and reflections but in the aftermath of the defeat it was hard to take any consolation.
TEAM : 1. Keiron Harwood 2. James Morley 3.Keallan Huddleston 4. Taylor Campbell (c) 5. Dylan Wilkinson 6. Brandon Young 7. Dan Robinson 8. Ethan Gray 9. Jay Gibson 10. Sam Johnson 11. Alex Fil
SUBS : 12. Matty O’Brien (for Johnson – 61 mins) 14. Elliot McClen (for Robinson 67 mins) 15. Benji Shodeinde (for Gray 61mins) 16. John Anderson (for Young 61 mins) 17. James Bakou (for Morley 16 mins)