Bedlington Terriers 2 Chester-le-Street Town 3 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

A game of plenty:  plenty of goals, plenty of mud and plenty of hard graft.

In horse racing terms the going would have been described as heavy, with the wear and tear of the season on the pitch making passing and fluent football difficult.  What it might have lacked in quality, it made up for in commitment by both teams.

In the opening 10 minutes it was just about all Terriers who pinned the Cestrians back in their own half.  Bedlington keeper Cameron Armstrong was kept busy, but only booting back passes up the pitch.

They fell behind with a self-inflicted goal in the 11th minute when Ian Heron passed an awkward ball to team mate Adam Harvey, putting him immediately under pressure, and the right back mis-kicked it straight to Kieran Megrin instead of clearing it out of the box.  The Chester No. 10 was left with the simple task of scoring.

In a two minute spell around the 20 minute mark they came desperately close to equalising and were only denied by some excellent saves by Chester-le-Street’s 16 year-old keeper Aaron Stevens.  The first denied a Brad Higgins header and then the second was an even better save of a Stephen Young shot.  Terriers captain Paul Wardle then had two shots blocked by defenders.  Two minutes from that flurry of chances Stevens pushed a near post shot by Higgins out for a corner.

They managed to grab the equaliser three minutes after the re-start when a ball into the Cestrians’ box looked to get a deflection and landed in front of Higgins who was all alone.  He took a touch and placed it past Stevens.  It was no more than they deserved.

The game’s most controversial moment came in the 52nd minute when Megrin sent over a well-weighted cross and Jack Oliver headed it in, only for Megrin to be judged offside.  Four minutes later Armstrong pulled off a top save, pushing a first time volley by Megrin out for a corner.  The corner went over a crowded penalty area and found Alex Walker who headed it back across the six-yard box, over the defenders and past Armstrong to make it 1-2.

Chester-le-Street were on top for the opening 15 minutes of the half but they kept their lead in the 69th minute only thanks to a well-timed tackle by Owen Lancaster to knock the ball away just as Higgins was about to shoot.

The visitors extended their lead in the 72nd minute with a quickly taken free kick to Megrin and his cross found Oliver who buried a header past Armstrong with no hint of offside this time.

In the closing 15 minutes of the game, Bedlington pushed forward.  A shot by Higgins forced a save out of Stevens and then Keelan Nellis went for placement rather than power with a shot that Stevens gathered down to his left.

In the final minute of normal time the Terriers finally got their second goal when a Brandon Paul King header found Ronnie Jones free in the box and he hit the ball just inside the left post.  They’d pushed Chester-le-Street as close as the scoreline suggests.

Mike Snowdon