Chester-le-Street United completed their official preseason programme with a very impressive demolition of gutsy Wearside League Second Division Durham United. In truth it was a score line that perhaps the lower ranked side didn’t deserve for their committed efforts.
But, United after a strong start showed the full value of their dedicated preseason and fitness regime by running strong for the full ninety minutes and taking full advantage of a tiring opponent.
United without quite a few possible first-team selections called up a number of their Under-18 squad from Park View Academy of Sport to compliment the side. The youngsters did not let their more senior colleagues down as they combined to give a highly impressive performance.
The Management Team from Annfield Plain, United’s first Wearside League opponents this coming Saturday, who were watching on will know they have a tough encounter on their hands after witnessing this display.
From the off United pressed hard and made it very difficult for their opponents to even get out of their own half. The midfield trio of Florian, Tom McIntyre and the lively Jack McKinley closing down their opposite numbers with aggressive pressing allowing the wide men Ebenezer Adoo and Micky Spellman to constantly stretch the Durham defence.
Up front Cameron Brewis was full of running whilst Jay Gibson was always a willing outlet as the fulcrum of the attack. Even when Durham did come forward they found the solid back three of George Rielly, Alex Fill and the excellent Jaden Timmins an impregnable wall.
Keeper James Anderson was virtually a spectator for the first 45 minutes but a very vocal one as he could be clearly heard organising his defence and urging his teammates on. All in all, it was a lethal combination that brought its rewards on the quarter hour mark.
After Adoo had gone close with a header from Spellman’s in swinging right sided corner it was Spellman himself that got Chester-le-Street on the score sheet. His driving run through the inside left channel saw him break into the box and he was upended just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Spellman himself stepped up to take the penalty and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way as he coolly slotted into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. The goal sparked even more intensity from the home side and on 25 minutes they doubled their lead.
It came from a combination of good work from Adoo and McKinley to set up an attack inside the Durham box and when the ball broke loose Brewis was on hand to lash it home with his left foot from about 10 yards out.
To Durham’s credit they didn’t buckle or panic. They could have resorted to clearing their lines long to relieve pressure but they kept trying to play football under real pressure from the eager United side.
Just after the half hour mark the visitors did create a decent chance after a good break down the right gave them a shooting chance just inside the United box but Fill got across and make an excellent block.
When the half-time whistle sounded it was probably a relief to Durham who had done well to keep United down to two goals in a half largely dominated by their higher league opponents. The start of the second half however proved somewhat different.
Whatever the Durham management told their charges seemed to work as they were the better side once the game restarted although Adoo perhaps should have done better when he shot wide from an excellent position following a great ball from half-time substitute Dan Turner.
Durham did have some good possession but they rarely threatened the Chester goal. When they did with a nicely worked move that gave a shooting chance from 12 yards, Anderson was down quickly to make a smart save.
A couple of dangerous free kicks earned by Durham came to nothing and then they went close when a long-range effort cannoned back off the outside of the post with replacement keeper Artur Leblonde unsighted.
Chester’s back line superbly marshalled by skipper Timmins held firm though and eventually their superior fitness and ability to break forward with pace and energy took its toll on their opponents.
The third goal arrived on 66 minutes and sparked a goal-rush to convincingly seal the game. It came from McKinley who made a superb break from midfield to get on the end of a penetrative through ball, round the keeper and squeeze a fine finish home from a tight angle.
Four minutes later the hard-working Gibson got his reward for his excellent efforts leading the line. McIntyre’s clever turn and quick lay-off saw Gibson sprint free and in a one-on-one confrontation there was only going to be one winner as he slotted the ball home with ease.
The lively Abdullah Alawadi had come on to replace Gibson up front after the centre forward’s goal earned him a rest. Alawadi’s pace and movement saw him quickly threaten in the Durham defence and he was instrumental in the fifth United goal.
He raced forward trying to get onto another incisive Chester through ball but was beaten to it by the onrushing keeper. Unfortunately for the keeper his clearance fell to Brewis who did brilliantly to strike the ball from long-range into the vacated empty net.
The final Chester goal came on 76 minutes and it was a beauty. Spellman who had been excellent all night and a real thorn in Durham’s side got away down the left created room and flashed a great low cross into the box where the lively Alawadi met it first time from close range to guide it past the helpless keeper.
Chester-le-Street cruised through the final ten or so minutes to complete a very satisfying and rewarding night’s work that should send them into Saturday’s league opener at Annfield Plain with confidence high.
After the game we spoke with one of the architects of the win, attacking midfielder Micky Spellman who gave his perspective on the game and his own performance.
“It was a good workout and great to get the lads up and running to get ready for the league starting on Saturday. For me I just tried to lead by example. When you’ve got 16-year-olds coming into the side you’ve just got to show them the ropes and how to play it with them being new to it.”
“I think Saturday is a tough first game against Annfield Plain but tonight showed the lads are preparing well for as we have been all preseason and we’re ready to go. I’m very confident in this team. We just need to keep working hard, doing what we’re doing and it should be a good season ahead.”
“That’s what my aims are. Keep working hard, lead by example and see where it goes. I’ve had some great experiences so far with this Club getting a trial at Livingston and visiting Huddersfield. It was good to see what it’s like around a pro club with the high intensity and what goes on at those Clubs.”
“It opens your eyes to what is available and what you need to do. For me I’ll keep my head down and keep working hard and see how it goes.”
The Annfield Plain game this Saturday kicks-off at 14:30pm and everyone at The Club is looking forward to getting the ball rolling.