by Jeff King
Ebac Northern League Division Two - Tuesday 27th September 2022
Sunderland West End 2 v 4 Chester-le-Street United
Whilst on paper this was definitely an away game for Chester-le-Street United it was played at The Ford Quarry Football Hub which is not only the home of Sunderland West End but also the temporary home of Chester.
United having been forced into ground sharing due to the ongoing discussions/deliberations over flood lighting at The Riverside will now play the rest of their home games at this venue until perhaps a solution is found.
Chester came into the game looking to win two league games in a row for the first time in The Ebac Northern League Division Two and were boosted by the return to the starting XI of striker Benji Shodeinde and flying wingback Alex Fil.
After a lively opening it was West End that took the lead with only 3 minutes gone from a lovely low strike by Lewis Charlton from just inside the box. The goal spurred United to come back strong and after some good possession a Thomas Cole cross landed safely for the home defence.
United though had responded well to going a goal down and in the 11th, minute drew level. Josh Crews scoring for the second game in a row as he turned the ball home from close range following a scramble in the home box after a United corner.
Taylor Campbell had an opportunity to show his dead ball expertise when he put a great free kick into the box to find Shodeinde but the striker couldn’t direct his header on target from a good position.
United where then indebted to Ryan Muldoon who saved his side from failing behind again. West End seemed certain to score when their striker got in on goal, but Muldoon put in a great sliding challenge to cut it out.
The challenge unfortunately led to Muldoon going off injured and having to be replaced by Brandon Young.
United after that scare began to push for a second and had two half chances for United in quick succession. Fil having an effort blocked in the area before Crews’s pass looked destined to give Shodeinde a great opening but was cut out by the West End defence at the last second.
Jay Gibson then had a good effort well held by the home keeper Neal Bussey as an entertaining game continued to develop. On 28 minutes despite the United pressure, they were hit by West End retaking the lead from a set piece with Lewis Lynn the scorer.
United though were not behind for long as they equalised two minutes later. Gibson getting in on goal, rounding Bussey and slotting home coolly after being found by a great long pass from Huddleston.
Shodeinde then went close for United hitting an effort narrowly over the bar but on 38 minutes made no mistake with an excellent finish inside the box to make it 3 – 2 to United.
The last incidents of an action-packed half saw Young go into the book for a cynical foul before Gibson went so close to a 4th for Chester. The first 45 minutes had been an excellent game of football, and everyone was looking forward to the second period.
United started the brighter with Fil’s dangerous cross intercepted by good home defending before it reaches Shodeinde for what would’ve been a tap in. The same two were involved moments later with a huge chance squandered.
Fil broke clear with Shodeinde and was 1 on 1 with Bussey. His ball to Shodeinde though was straight at Bussey who held comfortably.
On 53 minutes United made a further change with Jack Oliver coming in for a tiring Shodeinde who was starting his first game in three weeks
Fil showed his incredible strength and pace with a brilliant run before feeding Gibson who couldn’t beat Bussey. An ensuing scramble saw a United effort cleared off the line and when play settled down the limping Gibson was replaced by Elliot McClen
On 59 minutes Sam Johnson created a two-goal gap for united with their fourth of the night. Campbell showing great footwork to dance through the defence before feeding Johnson who slammed the ball home.
Fil was causing havoc with his runs down the left and another brilliant burst took him into the West End defence and only a last-ditch clearance preventing him from tapping in a fifth for Chester. Shortly afterwards substitute Oliver hit a great long-distance effort just over the top.
Johnson was the next to make way with Evan Gray coming on in his place. United continued to press and Crews once again causing problems in the opposition box headeds over from an excellent Campbell set piece and a good opportunity to make it 5 went a-begging.
With twenty minutes to go there was a dangerous moment for West End who almost pulled a goal back. A loose ball bouncing into the United area to a West End player in a great position, but his shot was tame and straight at Harwood.
On 72 minutes another 16-year-old was given an opportunity for United with Harry Laydon coming on for his United debut replacing Fil who had done well to put in such a great shift following his return from Injury.
As the game went into the last 10 minutes the tempo was still highly paced from both sides. Chester not resting on their laurels and West End driving forward looking for a way back into the game.
United who had done well especially after falling behind so early had to withstand two decent attacks from West End before taking all three points. There was a big chance not taken when a low cross begging to be converted fizzed across the Chester box evading everyone.
Then as the minutes ticked down West End were awarded a free kick in a very promising position. Oliver Thompson stepped up hitting a fantastic effort that cracked off the bar and bounced over to land safely for United behind the goal.
When the referee’s whistle blew for no-side minutes later it signalled the end of a very entertaining game where West End pushed United all the way but couldn’t find enough to deny Chester a very important win and a great three points.
TEAM : 1. Kieran Harwood 2. Keallan Huddleston 3. Dylan Wilkinson 4. Taylor Campbell (c) 5. Josh Crews 6. Ryan Muldoon 7. Thomas Cole 8. Jay Gibson 9. Benji Shodeinde 10. Sam Johnson 11. Alex Fil
SUBS : 12. Jack Oliver (for Shodeinde - 53 mins) 14. Brandon Young (for Muldoon - 17 mins) 15. Evan Gray (for Johnson - 66 mins) 16. Elliot McClen (for Gibson - 56 mins) 17. Harry Laydon (for Fil - 72 mins)
SCORERS : Crews, Gibson, Shodeinde, Johnson