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United Through After Tough Encounter

by Jeff King


Chester-Le-Street United 2 v 1 Silksworth Colliery Welfare

Sometimes it takes a game where you’re not at your best or the conditions don’t suit to learn more about your team and take experience and knowledge to store away. Yesterday’s first-round Monkwearmouth Charity Cup tie was certainly one of those occasions.

A tough well-organised Silksworth side came to The Riverside as Cup Holders and were in determined mood not to relinquish their hold on the silverware. However, this United side are in fine form and looking to take as much glory as their talents allow.

It was a typically hard-fought cup-tie that swayed both ways at times and one that First Team Manager Didier Agathe and Director of Sport John Gamble will have taken lots away from as their charges knocked out the holders and advanced to the next round.

Playing on the large Riverside main turf pitch was perhaps not to the youngsters of Chester’s liking in the early going. The ball didn’t flow as true as it would on a 3G/4G pitch and meant they didn’t get into their usual free-flowing style.

But in the journey for improvement the youngsters have to show the ability to adapt and learn to play under different conditions and in that respect the result and performance was a worthwhile and ultimately fulfilling experience.

It was Silksworth who forced the pace early on earning two successive corners that United and skipper Josh Crews in particular did well to defend and clear their lines. Then from a free kick conceded by Micky Spellman, Arthur Leblond in the Chester goal did well to take a ball under pressure.

Silksworth had a great chance to go in front inside the first ten minutes. Elliott Tench’s left wing cross to the back post found Ashton Burlance who headed the ball into the middle but there was no-one there to take advantage for CW.

Chester’s first real opportunity saw them exploit their pace on the break. Jay Gibson did well to spin away from his defender and he sent Spellman speeding away down the left. The low cross was a dangerous one but there was no-one up with the attack to get on the end of it.

A short corner routine well worked by United saw Spellman swing a ball to the back post which central defender Elliott Day got on the end of but he failed to make a good connection with his close-range header and Jak Wright saved easily.

Leblond then kept his side in the game with a splendid save. Michael Pattinson cut into the box following good work down the left. His rising shot was acrobatically turned away by Leblond at full stretch. The rebound fell to Burlance but he blazed wide from a good position.

Gibson created the next chance when his great ball to Ricardo Pereira saw the wide man take the ball superbly in his stride before trying his luck from 20 yards but he couldn’t keep the effort down.

Silksworth possibly should have gone ahead on twenty minutes from another free kick. Pattinson’s ball in caused real confusion in the United defence and Nathan Readman sneaked round the back but he put his free header wide.

Chester hit back and lovely play on the right by Abdullah Alawadhi created room for a cross that Alex Nicholson did well to control but as he looked to finish Wright came off his line to smother the shot.

United were now starting to get a foothold in the game and a lightning break from defence almost saw them take the lead on 25 minutes. The ball flashed between Spellman, Pereira and Alawadhi who put the late arriving Jak McKinley in on goal.

Just as McKinley looked to be in the clear Tench made a great recovering challenge to deny the opportunity. But it was a temporary reprieve for Silksworth as United too the lead three minutes later with a well worked goal.

Jaden Timmis moved smoothly out of defence and found Pereira with a lovely switch of play. The speed wide-man who had looked likely for the home side sped past his defender and put in a brilliant cross into the box where Gibson met it first-time on the half-volley from ten yards.

Wright did get a hand to the effort but it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the next and United perhaps slightly against the run of play took the lead. Silksworth were rocked but came back well with Josh Winthrop finding Chris Thompson just inside the box but the midfielder’s effort flew wide.

The goal had instilled confidence into United and they started to play some more familiar expansive football. On 38 minutes the move of the match thus far saw Nicholson switch play from left to right to feed the dangerous Pereira once again.

McKinley came with a late run looping behind Pereira who fed him nicely but McKinley’s nice low strike was well held by the diving Wright. United should have doubled their lead almost immediately after.

Brilliant play by Spellman in the middle saw him pick out Alawadhi with a superb through ball. The forward looked a certain scorer as he advanced on the Silksworth goal but the ball was on his weaker left foot and he sliced his great opportunity well wide.

Silksworth almost took advantage of that miss as they searched for an equaliser. Winthrop got away but his shot was well blocked by Timmis the rebound falling to Day whose poor clearance gave Burlance a good chance. This time it was James Bakou in the right place at the right time to block the effort.

Day then conceded a free kick on the United left. Pattinson whipped in a very dangerous ball that Leblond did really well to firstly palm away under pressure and then recover very quickly to dive on the loose ball.

The half ended with goal scorer Gibson hitting a sweet daisy cutter from about 20 yards out that Wright got down well to comfortably hold onto sending the teams into the dressing rooms with the home side the single goal in front.

Whatever was said in the United dressing room at half-time certainly paid dividends as they doubled their lead within a minute of the restart. McKinley made a diagonal cross-field run finding Spellman on the left wing.

Spellman fired in a fierce low cross that fizzed across the six-yard are evading Wright’s outstretched arms and found Alawadhi steaming in unmarked at the far post to side foot into the empty net.

Not long after the goal United made their first change sending on Lewis Lembikisa for Nicholson. Unfortunately, his first involvement saw him give the ball away to Liam Mulvain in a dangerous area. The centre forward swivelled and fired in a low effort that Leblond did well to get down to and save at his near post.

Silksworth were trying to be positive but United were standing firm and an example of good defending once again came from the silky Timmis. Tench made a superb driving run down the left and swung in a superb cross that found Mulvain in a good position but Timmis was in the right place at the right time to deny the Silksworth forward.

Taylor Robinson then came on for Alawadhi as the United coaching staff looked for fresh legs to stabilise the game. It certainly helped as United really took control of the game and looked to increase their lead.

From the back Crews found Spellman in midfield and McKinley once again timed his run superbly to get on the end of the excellent through ball but his first touch just let him down at the vital moment and Wright came off his line well to clear the danger.

Another great move for United saw another opportunity spurned. Spellman again finding McKinley who in turn found Lembikisa and his low left-wing cross just evaded Gibson who would almost certainly have scored if he’d made any connection.

Bakou was then replaced by George Riley with Timmis moving forward to play in a central midfield position which he comfortably slotted into. Spellman continued to be a source for United to create chances.

Another driving run across the face of the Silksworth defence saw him slip Lembikisa through on goal but once again Wright was alert to get down and make a great save to deny United a third goal that would have surely killed the game.

It almost proved costly as from almost nowhere Silksworth got a lifeline back into the game with 15 minutes to go. It came from a penalty where a rare foray into the United box saw Mulvain go down under a challenge from Crews. It appeared the United skipper had won the ball.

However, the referee saw it differently and awarded the spot-kick with Winthrop stepping up to send Leblond the wrong way and half the deficit. It was certainly game on and a big finish was needed.

Chester though stuck to their playing philosophy and kept control of the ball well, Defended comfortably and continued to create chances. Pereira shot wide from a difficult angle when he possibly had colleagues better placed in the box.

Gibson then showed good holdup play and laid the ball back into the path of the onrushing Timmis who’s finely struck effort from just outside the box was on target but straight at Wright who held on well.

With five minutes to go Chester created another great opportunity. This time it was Robinson that picked out McKinley’s well-timed run. The energetic midfielder did manage to round Wright but the angle was tight.

He did well though to pull the ball back into the six-yard box where Gibson arrived at pace but under pressure he was only able to fire the ball narrowly over the top. In truth United were seeing out time really well and had one further chance before the final whistle.

McKinley again made a lung-bursting run deep into Silksworth territory and then found Robinson who transferred the ball onto Pereira whose right-wing cross looked destined for Gibson’s head until Wright came flying out to take the ball out of the air really well.

There was no time for any further chances at either end as the referee’s final whistle brought an end to a well-fought and tough Cup-Tie where United had really shown their metal and commitment as well as their footballing ability.

To knock the holders out in the first round was a great achievement and perhaps makes them one of the favourites if not the favourite to lift the Cup. But, for the players and coaching staff it’s all about gaining experience and knowledge as they look to progress as individuals and a team.

There were several really good performances throughout the side with Pereira always looking dangerous on the right, Spellman creating chances constantly, McKinley’s determined running from midfield and Crews’ influential and solid performance at the back.

But in picking out one player for the Man of the Match award it has to go to the almost immaculate Jaden Timmis who was superb at the back and then showed great versatility and quality when moving into central midfield.

The team doesn’t have an official midweek fixture but return to league action next week with a visit to West Auckland Tunns on Saturday 11th September with kick-off scheduled for 14:30pm.

TEAM : 1. Arthur Leblond, 2. Jaden Timmis, 3. Elliott Day, 4. James Bakou, 5. Josh Crews ©, 6. Jak McKinley, 7. Ricardo Pereira, 8. Alex Nicholson, 9. Abdullah Alawadhi, 10. Jay Gibson, 11. Micky Spellman.

SUBS : 12. Lewis Lembikisa for Nicholson, 14. George Riley for Bakou, 16. Taylor Robinson for Alawadhi.

SUBS NOT USED : 13. Aymeric Vidot, 15. Jason Pordee.

SCORERS : Gibson, Alawadhi

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