by Jeff King
Durham County FA Challenge Cup Preliminary Round - Wednesday 14th October
Chester-le-Street United 2 v 0 Silksworth Colliery Welfare
It was Wearside League opposition for United as they looked to make progression in 'The County Cup.' Silksworth being the visitors to The Ford Quarry Football Hub as the competition got underway for 2022/23.
Chester's resources were stretched with injuries, suspensions and Academy games but the side they put out still looked strong although there were full first team debuts for 16-year-old goalkeeper Kieran Harwood and forward Jude Anderson. There was also a full debut for ex-Burnley youngster Jack Oliver.
The value of a bigger squad and the decision to run a Reserve side in the Wearside League also enabled Head Coach John Gamble to name two from their squad on the bench in Jamie Gibson and Aaron Davidson.
It was a quiet opening to the game with both sides feeling their way into the game. An earlier free kick from Taylor Campbell, United's skipper with Josh Crews out through suspension, went well wide and a Silksworth corner forced by Nathan Bennett cleared by the United defence.
The first decent opening came the way of Chester. A lovely measured long ball from Keallan Huddleston found James Morley on the right. Despite being fouled he turned the ball on to Jay Gibson who in turn found Anderson. He though was a shooting chance by a good challenge from Adam Frame.
Silksworth best moment of the game to date came with a well worked move. Bennett and Frame were involved setting up Ewan Colling well on the right who got in a good cross that Harwood came to claim well.
On 20 minutes Ryan Muldoon was fouled by Rhys Deehan. From Campbell's free kick Silksworth cleared and sprang a great counterattack. Brandon Anderson speeding away to find Bennett who did well to free Jordan Dagg.
As Dagg tried to cut inside and make space for a shot at goal, Dylan Wilkinson came across for United and made a superb clearing challenge.
Another measured ball from the back this time from Thomas Cole found Jay Gibson who did well to hold up play and then slide the ball inside the box to Anderson. Once again, the young forward was denied a shot on goal by Dan Thompson's well-timed challenge.
The ball broke free to Huddleston who knocked it forward to Jay Gibson just outside of the box and the striker turned well before hitting an on target shot that Jak Wright held easily.
Silksworth really should have taken the lead on 27 minutes. A superb run down the left by Deehan saw him deliver a pinpoint cross into Bennett who had a free header 8 yards out. He connected well with his effort, but it flew wide of the target.
Oliver was putting in a shift in the middle of the park for Chester and showed great awareness to slip a lovely through ball into the path of Anderson. he appeared to be pulled back by Robert Page but showed great strength to carry on but his shot from an angle only hit the side netting.
Silksworth spurned another good opportunity just after the half-hour mark. From an attack the ball came out to skipper Chris Thompson whose first-time effort was blocked by Wilkinson.
Thompson though was quick to retrieve the ball and ghosted past two defenders on the by-line before cutting an inviting ball back into the path of Bennett. However, the forward could only crash his ten-yard effort into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.
Deehan was then booked halfway inside his own half for a bad tackle on Anderson. Campbell floated a dangerous free kick into the Silksworth box where Dagg got his head on it almost sending it past his own keeper, but Wright got down at his near post to make a smart save.
As often is the case for United, Campbell was pulling the strings and dictating play from midfield. Seeing a chance to drive forward he was fouled about 25-yards out by Thompson. Campbell tried his luck with the free kick but not only got the ball over the wall, but it was too high to cause Wright any trouble as well.
However, the free kick specialist was spot-on after 41 minutes to help his side take the lead. This time it was Morley foul in the inside right channel some 30 yards out.
Campbell floated a dangerous ball into the box and Huddleston timed his run perfectly to get above the visitor's defence and flick a great header into the far corner past Wright for the opening goal.
It was a lead that United took into the changing rooms at half-time punishing Silksworth for the two great chances the had missed. However, with only one goal in the game it was all to play for in the second half.
As the sides came out for the second 45-minute period Jamie Gibson was in the Chester line-up replacing James Bakou who had limped off at the half.
Silksworth had the opening effort of the second half when Huddleston's poor clearance fell to the feet of Thompson just outside the box, but he failed to find the power he wanted in his shot and Harwood made an easy save.
United were showing some really slick passing, possession football that looked really attractive, but it was not being converted into chances as the Colliery defence stood resolute and cleared their lines at every opportunity.
Muldoon who had been cautioned for a foul on 55 minutes had not let the incident affect him and produced a brilliant driving run in midfield giving him the chance to release Jamie Gibson wide on the left.
The wide man's delivery into the box was excellent and found Jay Gibson 10-yards from goal but the striker's side-foot effort lacked power and was easily saved by Wright. It had been a good chance that Jay Gibson should have done better with.
United's need for a second goal to give Silksworth a mountain to climb came on 59 minutes and it was a Campbell special. Jay Gibson was fouled in a central position 20-yards from goal as he tried to twist away from his defender.
Up stepped Campbell and his superb effort beat both the wall and the diving Wright to nestle in the bottom left-hand corner of the net and double the home side's advantage.
The tiring Oliver was replaced by Davidson meaning both of the Reserve team players had gotten valuable and important first-team minutes in a very competitive cup-tie.
Silksworth had a chance to half the deficit from a 25-yard free kick of their own. Campbell the perpetrator with a clear foul on Dagg. Thompson struck the kick really well, but it was straight at Harwood who held the fierce effort in neat style.
Muldoon then made way for Dan Lanning who had been disappointed not to make the starting XI but who had played a full ninety minutes for Park View Academy's side in the afternoon and therefore had been put on the bench.
The excellent Wilkinson then took the ball off Cameron Fenton as Silksworth came forward and drove a fine diagonal pass into Jay Gibson. He in turn did well to spin past a defender and deliver a neat cross into Anderson who's first-time snapshot was well saved by Wright.
United's next chance actually came from a Silksworth attack. Substitute Stan Ogunsuvi did well to fashion a shooting chance just outside the box. But his well-struck effort cannoned back off his own player, fellow substitute Joe Williams and fell kindly for United.
It was picked up by Anderson who played a neat 1-2 with Jamie Gibson and looked in on goal only for Page to do well to get across and make a great blocking tackle.
United were well in control of the game with Campbell excellent in midfield and the back three also playing well repelling anything that the opposition tried to throw at them and create.
When Silksworth did fashion a chance to get the ball in the box after good play by Bennet and Fenton freed Niall Crosby for a cross, they saw Harwood come from his line to claim the ball in fine style.
As time ticked down it was in the end a brave effort from Silksworth who made it difficult for United at times, but the youngsters of Chester had played well throughout and were fully deserving of their win and place in the next round of 'The County Cup.'
The draw for the Round of 32 has seen United rewarded with another home tie this time against fellow Ebac Northern League Division 2 side Billingham Synthonia on a date to be decided.
TEAM : 1. Kieran Harwood 2. Thomas Cole 3. Dylan Wilkinson 4. Taylor Campbell (c) 5. Keallan Huddleston 6. Ryan Muldoon 7. James Morley 8. Jack Oliver 9. Jay Gibson 10. Jude Anderson 11. James Bakou
SUBS : 12. Dan Lanning (for Muldoon - 70 mins) 13. Matty Pattison (GK) (not used) 14. Jacob Freemantle (not used) 15. Jamie Gibson (for Bakou - 46 mins) 16. Aaron Davidson (for Oliver - 62 mins)
SCORERS : Huddleston, Campbell