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Yarm Take The Double On Disappointing Afternoon For United

by Jeff King

Ebac Northern League Division 2 - Saturday 23rd March 2024

Yarm & Eaglescliffe 1 v 0 Chester-le-Street United

Chester failed to build on their recent good away form that had seen them take seven points out of nine from their last three games as they slipped to a disappointing defeat against a Yarm side playing their home games at Billngham Town.

Yarm are new to the Northern League this season after gaining promotion from the North Riding League last campaign. They are having a very solid season and are pushing for a play-off place.

Back in October they had visited The Riverside and in a tough game had perhaps shown their more physical and experienced attributes coming away with a 1 - 0 victory.

United made two changes from the side that had won 2 - 0 at Prudhoe seven days earlier. Ryan O'Connor returning to the starting XI in place of Jude Anderson and England Under-18's schoolboy keeper Ryan Johnson coming in for James Hughes.

Johnson, a 16-year-old Park View Academy student has only recently been brought into United's squad after transferring from Billingham Synthonia. Many have predicted a good future ahead for the young shot-stopper.

The pitch was described as 'brutal' prior to kick-off by one of the Chester backroom staff and coupled with a gale force wind it certainly didn't seem like conditions that would suit United's style of play.

So, it proved in the end analysis although United did start brightly on the front foot and pushing forward. In the early stages they had three consecutive corners in very quick success.

The first came from a Michael Mallaburn long throw that Kobe Bewicke flicked on but saw Alex Dougall head out. Mallaburn delivered to the back post where Ollie Barnett headed it back into the middle only for Charlie Fixter to put it out.

This time Mallaburn's delivery was very dangerous as he swung it into the six-yard box only to see Will Lawrence under pressure do well in the Yarm goal to punch it over the bar.

The third corner was delivered by Jack Ledger, another ins-swinger that saw Lawrence come from his line to claim well. Reyhan set the next Chester chance up as United looked to take advantage of the strong wind in their favour.

He won a ball well in midfield and pushed it through to Bewicke inside the box but United's in-form striker tried his luck first time from 16-yards out only to see his effort flew well over the bar.

A good attack down the left by United saw Jacob Mallinson hit a low cross in towards Bewicke but it was just too long. O'Connor retrieved it and found Harvey Rudd up in support and he won a corner off Sam Conway.

Again, United could not get on the end of Ledger's in-swinger and the Yarm defence held firm to clear their lines well. Little had been seen of Yarm but when a hopeful ball was pumped into the box Johnson came off his line but didn't claim it.

The ball fell to Haani Rahman who hooked it back across the box only to see Rudd make a fine interception and clearance to help atone for Johnson's error.

United then created the best chance of the game through a strong determined run by Dan Robinson on the left. He picked out Bewicke unmarked on the edge of the box but his volleyed effort was inches over the top.

Good football by United using the wind to force Yarm back almost opened up the home defence again. Grimaud winning a challenge well before feeding Rudd who was supporting the attack and he neatly found Mallaburn.

Mallaburn picked out Mallinson on the left side and the midfielder took a decent touch on the tricky surface but in creating an angled opening once again hit a shot that went over the bar.

Yarm were struggling to get the ball out of their own half at times but when they did they created an excellent chance that they failed to take. Leo Cheesborough putting Rahman through on goal who advanced into the United box.

Barnett though doing well for Chester to make his presence felt managing to hold up Rahman who still got his shot away but under pressure from the United defender fired a good chance over Johnson's cross bar.

Yarm were forced into a change within the first 45 minutes with Joe Dalton coming on for Fixter. Dalton actually created the last chance of a poor first half from both sides finding Josh Larkin on the edge of the box who sliced well wide.

At half-time there was little doubting that Yarm were the more pleased side. They'd faced the strong wind and held Chester well and with their more direct style of play and the wind at their backs in the second 45 were well in the game.

That was apparent from the off in the second half. Rahman finding Larkin with a clever ball that the Yarm striker struck sweetly from 20-yards out only to see it fly narrowly wide of the target.

Then it was Dalton finding Conway overlapping into the box on the left. Conway hit a great half-volley that brought the very best out of Johnson who confirmed his ability with a great diving save.

Yarm's impressive start to the half brought them reward on 56 minutes as they took the lead with a goal that United should have stopped. Unusually the error coming from the experienced Micky Nelson.

A ball into the box by Yarm drifted high and wide and Nelson looked to leave it to go out but Conway had other ideas and retrieved it well before delivering a great cross into the middle.

Dalton got to the ball first and met it with a strong 8-yard header that took a nick of Barnett and looped over the helpless Johnson to break the deadlock. It was a blow to United who had defended well to that point.

Yarm were now well on top and looking dangerous. A long throw by Conway was flicked on by Rahman and deflected inches wide by Larkin who got on the end of the chance.

United decided to ring the changes but none of the substitutes had really got into the game before Johnson prevented Yarm from doubling their lead. A corner was delivered by Ross Harrison.

Dougall from six-yards out beat the United defence to the delivery and headed firmly goal wards only to see Johnson pull off a brilliant instinctive reaction save. Johnson was called into action shortly afterwards making a great parry to keep out Joe Hillerby's low right-foot drive from just inside the box.

United did finally break free and won a free kick midway inside the Yarm half. Mallaburn delivered and Barnett came steaming in to win the header but from only six-yards out but it over without testing Lawrence in the Yarm goal.

Yarm though were quickly back on the front foot and won a corner on the right when Nelson did well to get in front of Rahman and deny the striker a shooting opportunity.

Substitute Sam Lawrence's delivery found Dalton who controlled it well and then from 12-yards out tried an overhead kick that was just wide. O'Connor then put Johnson under pressure with a back pass that the keeper could only slice out for a corner.

Once again Sam Lawrence delivered this time to the back post where Dalton headed it back to find Cam Wild unmarked about 3-yards out but the Yarm skipper could only bundle the ball just wide from point blank range.

United got not get the ball forward effectively enough and even in the closing stages they struggled to search for an equaliser. The last chance of the game even falling Yarm's way again.

Grimaud fouling Rahman right on the edge of the box in a central position. Larkin took the free kick and beat the wall but not the flying Johnson who turned the ball away in fine style with another good save.

It was the last action of a poor afternoon where for much of the second 45 minutes they were penned into their own half. The positives coming from a fine display by young keeper Johnson and apart from the one goal a very solid performance from their under pressure defence.

The result meaning United still have some work to do if they are to avoid dropping into the bottom three of the division with rock-bottom Brandon United up next on their travels.

TEAM : 1. Ryan Johnson 2. Harvey Rudd 3. Jack Ledger 4. Dan Robinson 5. Micky Nelson (c) 6. Ollie Barnett 7. Michael Mallaburn 8. Reyhan Grimaud 9. Kobe Bewicke 10. Ryan O'Connor 11. Jacob Mallinson

SUBS : 12. Charlie Loveday (for Ledger 67 mins) 14. Jude Anderson (for Robinson 67 mins) 15. Ashton Houlahan (for Mallinson 67 mins) 16. Jack Wilson (for Mallaburn 83 mins)

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