Sunderland RCA 1 Newcastle Benfield 3
Tuesday 13th September 2016
Following Saturday’s overwhelming victory over Alnwick Town in the FA Vase, Newcastle Benfield journeyed to Meadow Park in search of league points. Thus far in 2016/2017, Benfield had lost both of their away games to Whitley Bay and North Shields, so the chance to face opposition where local bragging rights weren’t at stake could have been seen as an incentive. That said, the team was missing Jack Errington and Thomas MacNamee from the weekend, with the ever dependable and reliable Mark Turnbull switching to centre half, allowing Matty Cornish to slot in to an unfamiliar right back role. Additionally, Stephen Baptist played centre midfield, with Josh Scott taking the left wing role.
The changes appeared to have paid off as early as the second minute, when Scott McCarthy marauding run into the box resulted in him pulling the ball back for Paul Brayson, but the Benfield captain fired a shade too high. Following this early foray, the game settled down to being a tight, cagey affair with little to quicken the pulse. This changed after 20 minutes when the home side took the lead. Johnny Wightman is as famous for his cricketing prowess as for his football skills and the South North pace man served up a telling delivery to the back post, when the unmarked HASSAN turned it in, despite Andrew Grainger’s heroic efforts to push it onto the post. Soon after, Wightman fired just over the angle of post and bar, with Grainger showing great judgement of his off stump to let that one go by.
Benfield got back on level terms with Dylan McEvoy’s third goal in 2 games. The young schemer took a return pass from McCarthy on the edge of the box and fired decisively under advancing keeper Bussey. Minutes later McCarthy set up Josh Scott, but keeper Bussey saved the low effort with his legs. However, Benfield took the lead just before half time when Liam Hudson, slowing returning to full match fitness, profited from a lucky ricochet in the area, hammering the loose ball home to send Newcastle Benfield into the break 2-1 ahead.
Hudson’s goal, which proved to be the winner, completely knocked the stuffing out of RCA, who offered nothing during a second period when Benfield enjoyed utter dominance. One wonders just how Gosforth native and former Sunderland player Gordon Armstrong felt about this, on an evening when Benfield could and should have replicated Newcastle’s haul at Loftus Road. Straight from the restart Paul Brayson broke into the box and fired across goal. Minutes later the Benfield captain fed Liam Hudson, who shot fractionally over. Callum Duncan came on for Baptist and, with his first touch, had a header knocked off the line. Almost immediately Paul Brayson was in on goal and dinked the ball over Bussey, only for it to hit the bar and rebound away. Mechack Kanda, on for Scott McCarthy, was a stud’s length from finishing a Brayson cross shot.
Just as the anxiety levels began to rise, the points were made safe by Josh Scott, who tore down the left wing and smashed a superb finish across Bussey and into the bottom corner, to seal Benfield’s most complete league performance so far this season.