by Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Tuesday 18th October 2022
Boldon C.A. 3 v 1 Chester-le-Street United
The last time these two clubs met they were both Wearside League sides and it was in The Alan Hood Charity Cup Final in May 2021. Same venue, same score line but that time the honours went to United.
This time the decision went the opposite way as United had another tough test against opposition that have had a full season's experience more than Chester. Perhaps though in the end it was just down to clinical finishing that made the diffference.
Boldon had the better chances but United had more possession and looked comfortable for long periods of the game. Once again though their ability to give goals away and not convert at the other end meant a pointless night on their travels.
September's Player of the Month, Keallan Huddleston, returned from injury to partner Dylan Wilkinson in defence. Wilkinson holding onto the captain's armband with Taylor Campbell unavailable. With Dan Robinson also available it released Ryan Muldoon to move into midfield.
Following Saturday's defeat at Boro Rangers the last thing United needed to do was to concede early. But that's exactly what they did and inside two minutes as well.
A long clearance from Boldon keeper Callum Dobson was misjudged by Thomas Cole and fell to Curtis Wright. Dylan Wilkinson was covering the play but Wright turned inside and from the side of the 18-yard box curled a beauty with his left-foot over Mauro Asikaogu into the top corner.
United though showed great character re-grouped and levelled the game on 16 minutes. Wilkinson played a great long ball over the top for Benji Shodeinde to take in his stride and speed into the Boldon area.
As he tried to round Dobson the keeper upended him trying to take the ball. The referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot, one of the few decisions he got right on the night, although he took no further action against Dobson.
Shodeinde got up, dusted himself off and send Dobson the wrong way with a perfect spot-kick to register his eighth goal of the season and make it 1 - 1.
United were only level for three minutes. Luke Collins left channel ball got Levi Collins in behind the Chester defence. He played a one-two with Alfa Djalo to get into a dangerous position.
Huddleston came across and initially blocked Levi Collins but the ball rebounded kindly for him and unkindly for United and Collins lashed it home from 10 yards giving Asikaogu no chance.
Boldon were on top for the remainder of a half dominated by overzealous and frustrating refereeing decisions that were baffling both teams and their benches. It made for a stop-start game which definitely disrupted both sides rhythms.
United were playing some neat, controlled football without much penetration whilst Boldon always looked capable of causing problems at the other end.
One really nice home move saw Levi Collins and Daniel Wright combine well to set up Finlay Neary just inside the box, but Asikaogu was equal to a well driven effort producing a fine diving save. From the corner Steven Graham had a free header at the back post that he put over the top when he should have done better.
More bookings and disruptions followed, and the last chance of a fractured half came when Graham's long free kick was back headed inches over the Chester bar.
United looked controlled as the second half opened but again without really causing problems for Boldon. Indeed, once again it was the home side that came closest. Levi Collin's in swinging corner almost catching Asikaogu out as he did well to punch the kick away under his cross bar.
Sam Johnson almost pulled United level midway through the second half. Shodeinde set him up about 25-yards from goal. Johnson controlled it well and then sent a superb effort towards the top corner that Dobson did brilliantly to tip over the top.
Shodeinde then sped away from the Boldon defence, but Dobson came off his line to block well. The ball fell to Johnson who couldn't get the ball out of his feet in time to capitalise.
Substitutions, slight raised tempers and niggling incidents were the main order of the half as once again the referee dominated proceedings. When football did break out Levi Collins flashed a stinging effort at the Chester goal that Asikaogu did well to hold.
On 84 minutes, it was Collins, the Boldon top scorer who settled the game. United did well initially to clear a dangerous situation but Anderson gave the ball away cheaply to Wright. He found Djalo inside the box who knocked it wide to Collins.
He tried a cross which came back to him off Wilkinson and this time Collins stepped past two United defenders and smashed a low shot across Asikaogu and into the bottom corner.
As far as the scoring was concerned it was game over and sealed a deserved win for the home side who overall had always looked dangerous on the attack and finished clinically when given the chances to convert.
There was still time for Neary to be shown a straight red card for the home side late on for a two-footed tackle which although dangerous looked a genuine effort to play the ball. Not though in the inconsistent and over fussy view of a referee who was the talk of the Clubhouse after the game.
There was no doubting that Boldon deserved the win and in effect the officiating did not affect the result or the destiny of the points, but it was still disappointing that it dominated the conversation at the final whistle.
TEAM : 1. Mauro Asikaogu 2. Daniel Robinson 3. Thomas Cole 4. John Anderson 5. Keallan Huddleston 6. Dylan Wilkinson (c) 7. Sam Johnson 8. Jack Oliver 9. Benji Shodeinde 10. Ryan Muldoon 11. Elliot McClen
SUBS : 12. Evan Gray (for Shodeinde 74 mins) 14. Matt O'Brien (for Oliver 77 mins) 15. Jack Ledger (for Muldoon 75 mins) 16. Harry Laydon (for Anderson 77 mins) 17. Joe Walls (for McClen 61 mins)
SCORER : Shodeinde (pen)