Considering the way the weather had been, with very strong winds and heavy rain, the chances of this match taking please seemed remote at best. Despite this, the West Auckland volunteers did very well in getting the pitch, which looked magnificent, ready for tonight’s match. Play was pretty even for the first seven minutes then Newcastle Benfield opened the scoring. Captain Mark Turnbull played a pass down the right wing into the path of Paul Brayson; he in turn laid it into the path of SCOTT McCARTHY who, after controlling the ball, took it round the West Auckland keeper David Knight and rolled it into an empty net, making it 1-0 to Benfield.
Little had been seen of West Auckland in an attacking sense with Andrew Grainger in the Benfield goal having little to do. He should however have been called into action in the 18th minute. West won a free kick 30yards from goal which was taken by ex Spennymoor winger Craig Ruddy; he floated the ball perfectly onto the head of Carl Jones who headed wide of the goal. Benfield were playing well with every player looking for the ball in attack and defending in packs not allowing the home team time to settle on the ball, this allowed Benfield to get possession and quickly turn defence into attack. It was from one of these situations that Dylan McEvoy set up goal scorer McCarthy, after controlling the ball he rolled the ball to his team mate, McCarthy advanced forward with a good shooting chance but he put his effort wide of the West goal.
Goalmouth action was at a premium from both sides, but it always looked as if any more goals were to come it would be a second for Newcastle Benfield rather than a first for West Auckland. It should have gone to the visitors and again it was Scott McCarthy in the 40th minute who should have got Benfield’s second goal, Paul Brayson played a pass into McCarthy giving him a free run in on goal, but his shot on goal was straight at the goal keeper allowing him to save the effort which, with the interval nearing left the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield at half time.
West Auckland manager Darren Williams must have had a strong talk to his players in the halftime interval as they nearly got the equalizing goal in the 1st minute of the second half. A strong run by West’s striker Adam Burnicle saw his fine effort just go over the Benfield cross bar. West were at times struggling to cope with the pace of Ryu Williamson and Moussa Bakthi; in the 48th minute that Williamson chased a through ball, flying past a defender but instead of shooting at goal he tried to pass it to a team mate who was worse position to shoot than him and the chance was lost.
In the nicest sense Williamson was proving to be a pest for the West Auckland defenders and he combined in the 50th minute with Paul Brayson to set up Josh Scott, who advanced forward to unleash a strong shot on target from 25 yards, which was well saved for a corner by West keeper David Knight. West Auckland in the 55th minute were victims of their own success, when they were given a free kick for offside ten yards outside their penalty area, taking it too quickly as Benfield’s Paul Brayson was lurking nearby. He dispossessed Thomas Marron before back heeling the ball into DYLAN McEVOY, who advanced 20 yards before coolly rolling the ball past Knight in the West Auckland goal making it 2-0 to Newcastle Benfield. The score was a fair reflection of the game at this stage, but West Auckland brought on two substitutes Connor Gardiner and David Edwards which gave them a bit more pace which made their team a little more dangerous in possession. It didn’t result in any major requirements from the Benfield custodian Andrew Grainger who must have been getting cold with only the odd sporadic attack by the home team.
Paul Brayson who had been the major assistant for both of Benfield’s goal nearly got on the scoring sheet in the 59th minute when Ryu Williamson provided the ammunition but Knight was up to the task producing a good save for a corner which was cleared to safety. The 62nd minute brought the third and final goal of the game and it went the way of the visitors. Ryu Williamson not for the first time flew down the left wing, he then passed to Scott McCarthy, the Benfield striker passed the ball to Paul Brayson who turned quickly in the penalty area to be tripped with referee Mr Urwin awarding a penalty. This was the second penalty that Benfield had been given in successive matches with Paul Brayson missing the last one with a horrendous skyer, the Benfield players and supporters were wondering who would take this one but no one was given a chance with PAUL BRAYSON smashing the ball high into the net giving David Knight no chance of saving making the score 3-0 to Newcastle Benfield which it was at full time.
This was an excellent all round performance by all the team with it being difficult to pick a man of the match award, as every player deserved an eight out of ten with the man of the match getting a nine. There will be differing opinions who should get this but for having two major assists in the first two goals and having the balls to take a penalty after his miss on Saturday, Paul Brayson gets the vote.