Close neighbours Whitley Bay were the visitors to Sam Smith’s Park in what was expected to be a close contest. Whitley Bay had been on a decent run winning three games on the belt with a new management team comprising ex Benfield player Marc Nash and ex Benfield manager Tony Woodhouse so pride, as well as 3 points, was at stake.
The match got off to a lively start with Whitley getting two free kicks in the first five minutes for silly fouls; fortunately for Benfield the only net in danger from being hit was the high netting behind the goal. A silly back pass to the Whitley Bay keeper in the 8th minute almost brought a goal to Benfield but keeper Tom Flynn was alert to the situation just managing to clear the ball away from the advancing Dylan McEvoy. A minute later and Benfield had a great opportunity to open the scoring. The ball was played up to Jack Devlin, a quick turn lost him his marker, allowing him a run in on goal and although he hit a well struck shot that Flynn parried, he really should have scored when the ball rebounded back to him, but his second shot lacked power.
Whitley at this stage seemed to be the more alert team and seemed to be quicker all around the park and this was proved in the 12th minute; a quick free kick played down the line by Callum Anderson was controlled by Alex Kempster, who struck fierce drive just past the Benfield goal. Within a minute Benfield retaliated when a precision pass from Dylan McEvoy found Paul Brayson who shot from twelve yards, bringing out a good save from Flynn in the Whitley goal.
Seventeen minutes had elapsed when only a fine save by Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger stopped Whitley Bay from opening the scoring, a flowing three man move saw Alex Kempster advance forward to see his effort saved. At this stage it looked as if the visitors would be the first to score and they came close in the 20th minute in a manner that they did not expect; a long pass out of defence by Whitley Bay was controlled by Marc Dummett who rolled the ball back to his keeper Andrew Grainger who was quickly closed down by Alex Kempster, the keeper cleared the ball only for it to rebound off Kempster and fly towards the net. Fortunately the Benfield keeper got back just in time to collect the ball before it reached the goal.
Whitley Bay were in control of the game at this stage and were hitting long passes which were causing some problems to a square Benfield back four, in the 26th minute Chris McDonald went marauding down the wing producing a fine cross which was met by the dangerous Kempster who saw his strike on goal brilliantly saved by Andrew Grainger who also managed to recover to save Kempsters second attempt on goal. In the 29th minute Benfield had a great chance to get on the score sheet; a Marc Dummett through ball found Jack Devlin in possession, another quick turn gave him space to square the ball to Paul Brayson giving him a great shooting chance which he hit over the cross bar.
In the 33rd minute the Benfield defence was all at sea after a corner came into the box, the ball bobbled about in a mighty goal mouth scramble with appeals for a penalty to Whitley, although there might have been penalty awarded there was no way any of the officials could see what was going on as there was such a melee in the goalmouth with bodies all over the place. In the 36th minute Benfield were awarded a free kick 25yards from goal, up stepped Paul Brayson to see his effort hit the wall with the ball rebounding to Scott McCarthy who tried a side foot shot on goal when he should have put his foot through the ball giving it power but his shot was easily saved.
McCarthy had looked lively upfront for Benfield and in the 39th minute after a free kick was played up to him he did hit a powerful shot at goal going inches wide with Tom Flynn at full stretch. With half time approaching Benfield central defender Stephen Tobin almost gifted Whitley Bay a goal when his back pass to his goalkeeper Andrew Grainger was a little under hit but his team mate was just quick enough to get to the ball and clear the danger away under pressure.
Whitley Bay thought that they had opened the scoring in the 43rd minute when with the ball bobbling around the Benfield penalty area it fell to Kyle Patton only a few yards from the home team goal, he put the ball into an empty net but the flag had been raised for offside with the goal being ruled out leaving the halftime score 0-0.
The 49th minute arrived and Benfield had looked a lot sharper than they had in the first half, and quick free kick by Marc Dummett almost brought him a reward for quick thoughts as Tom Flynn in the Whitley goal was just able to get to the ball before a Benfield player.
In the 64th minute an exciting run down the right wing from the half way line saw Ryu Williamson outpace two defenders before he was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, the free kick taken by Paul Brayson hit a Whitley defender going for a corner. From the corner a strong header from Marc Dummett beat everyone except Whitley Bay captain Chris McDonald who headed the ball off the line away to safety.
In the 70th minute a long searching clearance out of defence by Whitley Bay found a very square Benfield back four, this allowed Alex Kempster a run in on goal bringing a good save out of Grainger in the Benfield nets. It was Benfield’s turn next to come close to getting a goal when a corner was met by the head of Lewis Scorgie required a Bay defenderto clear off the line for a second time. The ball came out to Paul Brayson on the edge of the penalty area and he hit a well struck volley which was well saved by Flynn.
It wasn’t all Benfield in an attacking sense although they were more of a threat than they had been in the first half but it was Whitley Bay who came closest to getting a goal after seventy seven minutes, Tom Potter advanced down the wing putting in a brilliant low cross with substitute Jack Cooper throwing himself at the ball just outside the far post missing the ball by inches. Substitute for Whitley Bay Chris Moore was soon involved in the play and looked dangerous, in the 79th minute did well down the Benfield left before putting in a brilliant teasing cross which to the relief of the Benfield players saw centre back Lewis Scorgie head the ball away for a corner which came to nothing.
The game was coming to a close with neither team really deserving to win with everyone agreeing that a draw would be a fair result but that should have changed with only five minutes left on the clock.A throw in was controlled by Paul Brayson who played Scott McCarthy in, advancing to the Whitley goal line McCarthy squared the ball across the six yard box into the stride of Ryu Williamson who from six yards and an open goal side footed the ball wide of the goal to the despair of his team mates and supporters missing a great chance to win it. The whistle soon went with the score 0-0 but an enjoyable game had been enjoyed at Newcastle’s best supported and most welcoming club.