Newcastle Benfield 2 Guisborough Town 2
Wednesday 24th August 2016
Having exorcised the demons of the Whitley Bay defeat with a morale-boosting 2-1 win away to Padiham in the FA Cup, Newcastle Benfield returned to EBAC Northern League action with the visit of Guisborough Town. There are those sides that can be classified as bogey teams and The Priorymen are certainly in the category as far as Benfield are concerned. While last season saw a pair of draws, a pulsating 2-2 down there and a more sterile affair with the same score up here, there was the small matter of an FA Cup defeat for The Lions at King George V ground in August 2015, not to mention the fact no-one was able to recall just when we last beat the visitors from North Yorkshire. Of course, one could have said the same about our last home opponents, Morpeth Town, and we all remember how that one turned out.
As regards this game, the only thing that prevented it being the equal of the Morpeth victory in every respect was the fact we contrived to only draw on this occasion, despite creating enough chances to win an entire season of home games. Straight from the off, Benfield took the game to the visitors. As early as the 3rd minute, Scott McCarthy weaved into the penalty area, before firing his shot into the side netting at keeper Daniel Dixon’s near post. Minutes later Paul Brayson found himself in the exact same position, though he opted to shoot across Dixon, allowing the visiting custodian to smother effectively. Brayson then turned provider, hanging up a peach of a cross that Lewis Scorgie header over from close range.
Benfield had settled by far the better, but as is often the case, we were then hit by a devastating counter attack when Matty Pennall .rifled in a superb volley from the edge of the penalty that flew past Andrew Grainger’s despairing leap, and nestled in the side of the goal. Were it not for the brilliance of that man Grainger, the lead could have been doubled on 15 minutes, when Connor Smith fired in a powerful effort that Grainger tipped away, only for Pennal to head the rebound into what seemed like an open goal. However, channelling the spirit of Banks against Pele and Montgomery from Lorimer, Grainger miraculously clawed the ball away again.
Parity was restored midway through the half when Michael Riley, who had his best game for Benfield since returning last season, produced a delicious cross from the left wing, that saw Jack Errington ghost in at the far post and score with a firm downward header, despite the best efforts of Dixon. This reignited the home side and Scott McCarthy was twice unlucky not to score in the space of 30 seconds soon after. Firstly, a header from a Jack Errington cross dropped agonisingly wide, before he robbed the Guisborough defence from the restart, going in on goal but chipping the ball fractionally past the post after Dixon came out to narrow the angle.
This was a top quality game of non-league football played to a high standard, with end to end play from both teams. Guisborough’s French midfielder Thibault Charmey had a shot on goal deflected wide. Dixon then saved smartly in rapid succession from McCarthy and Riley. On two further occasions McCarthy succeeded in getting the ball past Dixon, one a shot and one a cross for Brayson at the back post, but on both occasions Guisborough’s captain Leon Carling, who had a towering game, cleared from danger, meaning the score was 1-1 at the break.
After such an excellent, high-tempo first half, the second period did take a few minutes to find its feet. Firstly Michael Coghlin’s intelligent shot was just over the angle on his home debut, before Pennal combined with Smith, who shot wide, but gave Benfield a warning that the visitors were not there to make up the numbers. Indeed, Guisborough broke effectively and menacingly all night, showing they are a superb counter-attacking outfit.
Matty Cornish came on for Mark Turnbull and the exciting young prospect almost had an immediate impact, collecting a loose ball in centre midfield, before driving on and releasing a powerful low drive that skimmed a foot wide of the post. Andrew Grainger again had to be at his very best to turn round a Peter Bulmer effort as Guisborough broke up field again. Michael Coghlin was showing a fine array of passes from midfield, setting up Brayson for a volley which drifted just wide, before having the favour returned and seeing a deflection take it agonisingly off target. Disappointment was short lived as from Michael Riley’s subsequent corner; Lewis Scorgie rose unchallenged and powered home a header from the six yard line.
It seemed as if Benfield would take the win they so richly deserved, until disaster intervened. In attempting to head away a seemingly innocuous cross into the box, Stephen Tobin rose majestically and placed an unstoppable header into the very top corner of his own net, leaving Andrew Grainger utterly helpless. This totally deflated the whole team and resulted in a few nervy moments as the visitors scented blood. However, the game ended without further incident and Benfield were forced to settle for a draw, though their performance warranted far more in terms of points.
Newcastle Benfield: Grainger, Turnbull (Cornish), Riley (McEvoy), McNamee, Tobin, Scorgie, Walker, Coghlan (Duncan), Brayson, McCarthy, Errington.
Substitutes: Blackett, Scott.
Man of the Match: Riley.