NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 0 PENRITH 1 (12/11/16)
Penrith were the visitors to Sam Smith’s Park for what was hopefully the step on the road to Wembley. During our first meetings, Benfield had the Indian sign over Penrith, including that famous night in May 2009 when Stephen Young’s 86th minute goal in the final game at their old Southend Road ground saw Benfield lift the Northern League Championship, but in recent years it has reversed and the home team have found it hard to get a result against the Cumbrians.
Benfield started quickly and in the first minute could have opened the scoring when, after a fast flowing move, the ball fell to Liam Hudson, giving him the chance to shoot at goa,l but he hit a poor shot which was easily saved by Penrith’s keeper Jonny Jameson. Penrith have a very good, strong, striker in the shape of Martyn Coleman and over the past 4 or 5 years he has been the proverbial pain in the backside to various Benfield teams. He had a chance in the fourth minute when the ball was played up to him; despite being under pressure from three home team defenders he twisted and turned on three occasions in order to hit a strong shot into the near post bringing a good save from Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger.
Two minutes later it was fellow striker Kevin Connelly who saw his shot well saved at the near post in a similar matter to his colleague. Although only six minutes had gone Penrith were on their third corner kick and had totally dominated the early stages of the game. They were awarded a free kick 25 yards out in a dangerous position but a poor effort hardly reached the goal.
On the balance of play it only looked a matter of time before Penrith would get a goal and it did eventually arrive in the 12th minute; a corner out on the right was headed clear to the edge of the Benfield penalty area to find Adam Main who struck the sweetest of volleys only to see it blocked for a corner. The goal came from this corner when GRANT DAVISON who had scored with his head over the last three seasons and the Benfield players were warned about this but he was given space to head the ball high into the top corner of the goal giving Penrith a well-deserved 1-0 lead. At this stage of the game Penrith were well on top with their players getting forward in numbers to support their strikers.
Twenty seven minutes had elapsed before Benfield created any shooting opportunities and they should have equalised, when a build-up found Paul Brayson with the ball. He then picked out Liam Hudson with a fine pass but poor control saw the shooting chance spurned.
Within a minute Penrith were unfortunate not to double their lead; Coleman out on the right wing cut in to hit a low cross shot which was blocked by the Benfield keeper with the ball flying out to hit his team mate Stephen Tobin going for a corner but only inches wide of going in for an own goal. The only thing that Penrith must have been disappointed at must have been the score as they were well on top but only had one goal to show for it. They were that much on top that they had 9 corners 1 goal and had brought 3 top saves out of Andrew Grainger in the first half hour of the match.
Penrith captain Grant Davison showed his strength in the air again in the 35th minute, Grainger brought off a good save for a corner, from the dead ball situation it was again won by Davison but fortunately for Benfield Mark Turnbull was on the goal line heading the ball clear. Even the Penrith defenders were having shots at the Benfield goal, after poor defending by Stephen Tobin, Willy Paul the Penrith full back saw his shot pushed for another corner.
The half time whistle was coming near and the Benfield players must have been looking forward to it as they could only get better after being dominated by the visitors, with two minutes until half time a long throw in fell at the feet of Martyn Coleman who turned once again to find Grainger up to the task pushing his shot out for a corner. One of the very few Benfield players who could come out of the first half with any credit was Moussa Bakhti, in the first minute of added on time he when on a terrific dribble, gaining possession deep in his own half he went on a 40 yard run beating three opponents before gaining a corner which was cleared to safety leaving the score 1-0 to Penrith at halftime.
Although Benfield were playing a little better there was nothing of any significance in their play in the first half hour of the second half to worry Penrith and in fact it was the visitors who again brought out the best of Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger. Poor defending allowed Martyn Coleman the chance to shoot at goal with the ball being blocked before falling at the feet of Jamie Street who saw his shot saved with his feet by the Benfield custodian.
Sixty seven minutes saw a fine run from Benfield substitute Matty Cornish; he advanced to the by-line before crossing to Lewis Scorgie who at full stretch put the ball wide of the goal. Without looking really threatening Benfield put a decent move together in the 69th minute, a strong run down the left wing by Bakhti saw him move the ball to Dylan McEvoy who in turn squared the ball into the path of Josh Scott who hit a rising drive just clearing the Penrith cross bar. Time was running out and despite a little more possession than the visitors a goal didn’t look as if it was on the way for the home team, they did get a corner with five minutes to go which saw substitute Meechak Kanda head the ball back across the goal from the far post but it had no pace on and was easily cleared to safety leaving the score at 1-0 to Penrith which it was at full time.
Newcastle Benfield: Grainger, Turnbull, Bakhti, Scorgie, Tobin, McNamee, Uddgren (Kanda), McEvoy, Brayson, Hudson (Cornish), Scott (McCarthy)
Man of the Match: Grainger
Match report by Ian Cusack