Washington 2 Newcastle Benfield 1
Saturday 15th October 2016
After last Saturday’s convincing win over in-form Seaham Red Star and the absolute annihilation of West Allotment Celtic in midweek, Benfield travelled to Nissan Sports Ground for the last time pre-Brexit, so potentially the last time ever, in good heart and good numbers. An away following of well over 30 is testament to the growing popularity of Newcastle’s senior non-league side. Sadly, on a day when the facilities were shared with an indoor archery event, it was the hosts who hit the target more than Benfield, as we fell to a disappointing defeat. To be frank, there was very little wrong with the performance, other than poor decision making when it came to potentially killer balls, but the dogged and resilient home side won out with a brace of well-taken goals that came seemingly out of absolutely nothing.
It was Benfield who showed first, with the returning Stephen Baptiste having a bullet header from Matty Cornish’s cross brilliantly tipped over by Dale Connor in the second minute. Twice in the opening quarter of an hour, Connor again impressed, by saving efforts by Josh Scott with his legs. Perhaps Scott’s best chance came on 24 minutes when Connor dropped a Cornish corner. The ball was partially cleared and Scott, seeing the crowded area in front of him, opted for power rather than placement and blazed an effort a foot over the bar. Matty Cornish was involved in most of Benfield’s good work; his deflected shot being palmed away by Connor, who raced from his line to cut out a through ball that Paul Brayson seemed certain to run onto.
However, Benfield were hit by a sucker punch on 36 minutes, when Matthew Waters outpaced the Benfield defence and lobbed the advancing Grainger to give Washington a 1-0 lead, which they held until the interval. At the break Ryu Williamson came on for Josh Scott and the diminutive wide man’s blistering pace caused much unease in the home defence. However his first involvement almost gifted the home team a goal, when he gave the ball away in the area, but Jordan Jenson couldn’t profit and hit the ball into the side netting. The positive side of Ryu’s involvement was seen on the hour, when his jinking trickery won a corner on the left that he took. Mark Turnbull powered in a header that crossed the line before Washington could hack it away.
If the visitors thought this was a turning point, they were mistaken. Despite Brayson flashing a diving header just over from a pin point Baptiste cross, the outcome of the game was in doubt until the 83rd minute when substitute George McCain turned in the area and fired low past Andrew Grainger. This seemed to deflate Benfield, as Washington were allowed to see out the game with little to worry their defence.