by Jeff King
The Isuzu FA Challenge Youth Cup Preliminary Qualifying Round
Wednesday 31st August 2022
Chester-le-Street Town Youths 0 v 11 Chester-le-Street United Youths
This was a huge game in the short history of Chester-le-Street United and one that was very much part of the progression plan. An Isuzu FA Youth Challenge Cup match for our Academy youngsters to continue their development in a prestigious renowned National Competition.
That the game was also against nearest rivals Chester-le-Street Town in a derby clash added additional spice to the occasion at Chester Moor. The United youngsters didn’t disappoint showing real quality and committed effort in what was a fantastic performance.
In front of the watching First Team Head Coach John Gamble, Club Chairman Lewis Pendleton, several committee members and players from the first-team that weren’t eligible the youngsters who played did the Club proud and fully justified the united show of support.
88% possession, 38 shots on goal, 11 goals was a massive statement of where this ongoing project is headed and full justification of the work being done via the link-up with Park View Academy as United look to be progressive and move forward.
The United side and indeed squad contained only four players that have not been in the Ebac Northern League Division 2 first-team squad this season and one of those actually plays for another Northern League Div 2 side. It always looked as if it was going to be an uphill task for Town.
So, it proved. Within 43 seconds of the kick-off United went in front. A calamitous goal for Town to concede and one that encapsulated the difference in standards between the two sides. A ball forward looked easy for keeper Oliver Prendergast to deal with.
He, though, got into a tangle with his centre-half Ewan Cairns resulting in the ball rolling free and the alert Charlie Loveday nipped in, picked it up and fired it into an empty net from about 12 yards to open the scoring.
On five minutes Town almost had a chance to equalise. Sam Campbell’s long free-kick caught the United defence out and fell to Jake Piggford but on the stretch he could only put his left-foot volley well wide. At that stage it would have been hard to comprehend that would be Town’s only effort on goal in the game.
Two minutes after Town’s efforts United spurned an opportunity to double their lead. Ethan Gray played a short corner to Dan Lanning inside the box and as he moved towards goal he was tripped by Patrick McNeil.
Lanning stepped up for the resultant spot-kick but drove his effort against the right-hand post and it rebounded to safety.
It was all United now and they forced another corner. Lanning delivered and Thomas Cole thundered an 8-yard header at goal that produced a great reflex stop by Prendergast.
Then another saw Tully burst down the left saw him cut the ball back to Loveday who’s first time effort with the side of his foot flew inches wide.
A second goal seemed inevitable and duly arrived on 11 minutes with Lanning making amends for his penalty miss. Sam Johnson did well to win a tackle in midfield and when the ball broke loose it fell to Lanning 22-yards out and he lashed it low past Prendergast.
Lovely play on the left between Tully and Ethan Gray saw Tully get free to cross the ball low finding Lanning on the edge of the box and his great effort flew inches wide. The next chance came on the right when Evan Gray’s right-wing cross found Johnson but he could only direct his header from the centre of the box straight at Prendergast.
The third goal duly arrived on 23 minutes and it was Captain Lanning again with a crisp finish from just outside the box after he controlled Ethan Gray’s neat pass the ball flying past the hapless Prendergast.
On the half-hour it was 4 – 0 with Lanning completing a hat-trick with a successful penalty this time, sending Prendergast the wrong way after Ethan Gray had earned the spot-kick being upended by Charlie Meakin.
Two pieces of magical footwork created the next opportunity. Loveday did brilliantly to adjust his feet and find Tully breaking into the box. The wide man danced past two defenders but lost composure at the crucial time and smashed his effort well over the top from a great position.
United had two further good chances to increase their lead but couldn’t before the half-time break but didn’t take either. The first came when Liam College confidently strode from defence before releasing Ethan Gray on the left.
The cross came in and Johnson arriving late into the box got their first but his header went inches wide of the target. Then Lanning was denied a fourth when good work from Elliott McClen released him but his goal bound shot was deflected clear by Meakin.
At half-time the only surprise was that United had not got more than the four goals to confirm their superiority. That was all to change in the second 45 minutes.
They had already squandered two good chances from the restart. Lanning firing wide from a good position inside the box and Evan Gray firing a cross shot just wide of the far post when Tully deservedly made it 5 – 0 on 50 minutes.
It came from a corner that was cleared only to fall to Tully on the left. He cut inside and hit a right-foot shot that went straight through the diving Prendergast’s arms who perhaps should have done better although there was no denying Tully deserved his reward.
United had already made on substitution at half-time bringing on Jacob Freemantle for Thomas Cole and they made another on 54 minutes with Ryan Wright replacing Johnson. It didn’t disrupt United flowing football one iota as they poured forward again.
On 55 minutes they and Captain Lanning struck again. A long ball through the middle saw the striker in pursuit and when Prendergast came and made a complete hash of his clearance, Lanning had the simple task of walking the ball into the empty net to make it 6 – 0.
Lanning then made way to allow Jude Anderson to get a run-out.
He almost immediately got on the score sheet. A great overlapping run by Evan Gray saw him find Anderson at the back post and his excellently hit volley was only inches too high. The marauding Evan Gray though did make it 7 – 0 on 59 minutes with a superb goal.
Driving forward from right wingback he unleashed a 30-yard rocket that arrowed into the top left hand corner of the net giving Prendergast absolutely no chance. Indeed there was or is perhaps no goal keeper in the world that could have kept the effort out.
On 63 minutes United did make it 8 – 0. Superb work on the right by Wright saw him find space to unselfishly cross low to the back post to find the unmarked Tully who tapped home from close range.
Goal number 9 arrived on 71 minutes and it was Loveday’s second of the game. Excellent control and a probing run by Ethan Grau saw him find Lovejoy free inside the box and he finished the move in fine style with a great left-foot shot.
Five minutes later United made it ten with a goal from Elliott McClen. Tully picked the ball up on the left and then moved infield to find McClen who hit a sweet measured finish well out of the reach of Prendergast.
Was there time for one more? There surely was and it came with two minutes of the ninety left. Evan Gray the provider sliding a great ball to Wright who turned brilliantly in the box wrong-footing a couple of defenders before smashing the ball home in some style.
The referee’s whistle at full-time put an end to Town’s misery and demolition. They would have been glad to get off the pitch after being absolutely torn apart from a United side that were several levels above them To their credit Town kept going right to the end and never dropped their heads.
But it’s United who march on and in the 1st qualifying round now have an attractive home fixture against Spennymoor Town to organise and contemplate.
It was a wonderful way for this fledgling Club to announce themselves for the first time in such a prestigious and respected National FA Competition.
TEAM : 1. Matty Pattison 2. Evan Gray 3. Ethan Gray 4. Harry Laydon 5. Thomas Cole 6. Liam Colledge 7. Charlie Loveday 8. Sam Johnson 9. Dan Lanning (c) 10. Elliot McClen 11. Harrison Tully
SUBS : 12. Jude Anderson (for Lanning 56 mins) 14. Michael Mallaburn (not used) 15. Jack Ledger (not used) 16. Jacob Freemantle (for Cole 46 mins) 17. Ryan Wright (for Johnson 54 mins)
SCORERS : Lanning 4 (1 pen), Loveday 2, Tully 2, Evan Gray, McClen, Wright