Newton Aycliffe 3 Newcastle Benfield 2
Saturday 1st October 2016
After winning 5-1 away to Ashington with a sparkling performance, it was to be hoped that Benfield could take this form into another away fixture, this time at Newton Aycliffe. While the result may indicate otherwise, Benfield put in another superb 90 minutes and were desperately unlucky not to get something from the game, partly on account of Dennis Knight’s predatory instincts and partly because of a pair of baffling decisions that caused the opening two goals.
With no-nonsense Stephen Tobin unavailable, Tom McNamee went to centre back, allowing no-sense Stephen Baptiste to come into midfield. The first 15 minutes saw Benfield’s trademark intricate passing game push the hosts back, though Peter Dixon’s side more direct approach made Aycliffe highly dangerous on the break. One such passage of play saw a soft penalty awarded after Garthwaite went easily to ground in the area. Andrew Grainger had saved 2 penalties against Ashington in the last game, extending his run to 8 spot kick shut outs in a row, but he was unable to reach Dennis Knight’s low effort that put the home side ahead. He almost grabbed a second moments later, but his audacious long range effort was held at full stretch by Grainger.
The next twenty minutes saw Aycliffe grow in confidence, as Benfield played a neat but blunt passing game, before first Callum Uddgren and then Dylan McEvoy shot inches wide in the space of 90 seconds as we sought a toehold in the game. This was all undone on 37 minutes when a suspiciously offside looking Knight, lobbed Andrew Grainger from a seemingly impossible angle, right in front of the apparently unsighted assistant referee in point of fact, to double the home side’s lead. Benfield sought to reply and, with the last play of the half, Lewis Scorgie’s header hit the bar.
After the break, Mech Kanda came on for Callum Uddgren and Benfield started to enjoy more possession and pose more of a threat, with the imposing striker firing into the side netting almost immediately. On the hour, Josh Scott came on from Tom McNamee in an attacking move and, with almost his first touch, caused Aycliffe keeper Brannan to make a crucial fingertip save. When Liam Hudson replaced Ryu Williamson, it seemed incredible Benfield were still 2-0 down; typically, it was soon 3-0. That man Knight hit a vicious, swerving shot from distance that Andrew Grainger got a hand to, but couldn’t save.
From that point on, Benfield threw caution to the wind and drove the home team back. A regular tactic for the home side, borrowed from the adjoining rugby field, was to launch the ball into touch and over the stand. Benfield, in contrast, played football. On 78 minutes Liam Hudson nonchalantly clipped home a low Dylan McEvoy cross. Minutes later a Josh Scott cross from the left was finished with aplomb by Paul Brayson at the back post. In throwing the kitchen sink at Aycliffe, Benfield almost conceded a fourth, with Knight volleying over an unguarded net. Despite all the pressure, a final header over from Scorgie was the last play and Benfield had lost a thoroughly pulsating game 3-2.
Newcastle Benfield: Grainger, Turnbull, Bakhti, Scorgie, McNamee (Scott), Uddgren (Kanda), Baptiste, Cornish, Williamson (Hudson), McEvoy, Brayson
Substitutes: Berhan, Trodd
Man of the Match: Bakhti