Newcastle Benfield 3 Morpeth Town 2
Saturday 13th August 2016
NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 3 MORPETH 2 (13/08/16)
It seems ludicrous to start talking about Goals of the Season, or even Games of the Season in mid-August, but the quality and excitement provided by the two sides today would justify such hyperbole. Benfield were honoured to welcome the FA Vase holders to Sam Smith’s Park, though there was not a sniff of daylight robbery about the manner of the Highwaymen’s defeat. Indeed, were it not for a couple of highly contentious decisions that went the way of the opposition, Benfield and indeed should, have won by a considerably wider margin than they did.
On a glorious sunny afternoon, Benfield kicked off with the advantage of a stiff breeze behind their backs. However in the opening exchanges, such was the high level of skill on display that the ball never left the ground for any appreciable length of time, meaning one could actually forget about the blustery conditions. The first time the ball was airborne resulted in the opening goal, when the perennially talented Paul Robinson took possession of a corner squared by Sean Taylor to the corner of the box and launched an unstoppable, thunderous strike across goal and into the far side of the net. It was a moment of individual brilliance, matched a further three times in the half.
Benfield were swiftly level, when Paul Brayson’s magnificent close control and individual trickery saw him elude several Morpeth defenders in the box, before laying the ball on a plate for the on-rushing Jake Trodd, who took the goal with aplomb, when closed down by keeper and defenders. The home team took the lead on 26 minutes with a goal that was either a sublime piece of artistry or a wind assisted fluke meets a goalkeeping howler. In the spirit of optimism, we’ll stick with the former description. Tom MacNamee chested down a loose ball in the centre circle and hit it with pace, precision and power, beating the despairing dive and flailing palms of Morpeth’s keeper Dryden.
From this point on, the home side exercised a measure of dominance and twice came within inches of adding to their lead. Firstly Lewis Scorgie flashed a header from a Michael Riley corner just wide of the back post, before the industrious and impressive Scott McCarthy ran onto a loose ball and lobbed the advancing Dryden, only for the ball to fall agonisingly the wrong side of the upright. Immediately following this missed opportunity, Morpeth exacted severe punishment. A quick break resulted in the ball being played to the advancing Robinson’s feet on the left hand side of the field. He produced a glorious, swerving low strike that cannoned in off the post, with Andrew Grainger left motionless, meaning the teams were tied at 2-2 at the interval.
The second period began at a more sedate pace, then exploded into action on the hour mark. Scott McCarthy shrugged off a pair of challenges and advanced into the area, moving horizontally across the face of goal, looking for a shooting opportunity. Perhaps rashly Karl Dryden hurtled from goal and clearly took McCarthy’s ankles from under him. Certainly it was a penalty, but the appearance of a covering Morpeth defender between McCarthy and the goal seemed to suggest only a yellow card would be awarded. In actual fact, referee Helen Conley deemed that as Dryden had made no serious attempt to play the ball, then the appearance of a covering defender was irrelevant; the decision was red card. Dryden was off, Graydon went in goal and Brayson, shrugging off his miss against Thackley, stroked it home.
If Benfield thought the man and goal advantage meant the game was won, they were to be roundly disabused of this notion, especially after the arrival of Benfield legend Michael Chilton for the away team. Andrew Grainger kept Benfield’s lead with an acrobatic save from a point blank Henderson effort. From the corner, Josh Scott tore downfield to win a corner that Stephen Tobin rose majestically and headed home. The referee ruled it out for pushing.
Back came Morpeth and in the last minute Mark Turnbull made himself into a hero by blocking a goal bound effort following a melee that had already eluded Grainger. The ball was worked upfield and Brayson ran onto to it, entering the area and being flattened by Grayson. To avoid any contentious decisions about this incident, referee Conley blew for full time at the end of an enthralling game that showed just why the Northern League is the best place in the world to watch football.
Newcastle Benfield: Grainger, Turnbull, Scott, Tobin, Scorgie, McNamee, Baptist, Riley (Blackett), Trodd (Cornish), Brayson, McCarthy
Substitutes: Coghlan, Errington, McEvoy
Man of the Match: McCarthy