Newcastle Benfield went into this game knowing to expect a very difficult match against the current league champions and one of the favourites for winning the league again and possibly the F.A. Vase. It was going to be harder than normal as due to injuries Benfield only had one regular defender available and out of the sixteen named players, eleven were under twenty two, while two eighteen year old players started the match. The first fifteen minutes of the match were pretty even with no real danger to any goalkeeper, in the 17th minute Jack Devlin and Dylan McAvoy linked up to supply new signing John Campbell with a shooting chance and after a swift turn he hit a shot on target, bringing a good save out of newly signed Shildon goalkeeper Peter Jefferies.
Thirty one minutes had elapsed when Shildon opened the scoring; a strong run down the Shildon left by Matthew Robson saw him cross into the middle of Benfield penalty area to find BILLY GREULICH- SMITH who deceived Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger with a looping header which half came off the head and half off the shoulder lobbing into the top corner of the net making the score 1-0 to Shildon. Two minutes later and Shildon doubled their score; again it involved Matthew Robson, as in the first goal he advanced down the left wing. Racing to the Benfield goal line, he then picked out the advancing LEWIS WING who side footed home from six yard, via a sizeable deflection, making the score 2-0 to Shildon.
Although two down Benfield were starting to get a better foothold in the game in possession terms but were not really threatening the Shildon goal although the Benfield goal was not under any real pressure either and the visitors looked as if they got a goal back they had a chance of a point. In the 37th minute goalscorer Lewis Wing saw good strike well saved for a corner by Grainger after a previous shot was deflected into his path by Dylan McAvoy, it was Wing three minutes later who saw his shot half saved by Grainger with the Benfield keeper recovering to make a save at the second attempt. With only two minutes until half time Shildon were fortunate not to concede a goal in an unusual manner; a long punt out of the Benfield defence looked like a bread and butter collection for Jefferies in the Shildon goal but he hesitated and didn’t come for the ball, meaning a last second decision by Robson saw him clear the ball which rebounded of Benfield striker John Campbell going inches wide of the home teams goal. This left the score 2-0 to Shildon at the half time whistle.
Forty eight minutes had gone when a good attacking move put pressure on the Benfield defence with the ball arriving at the feet of Amar Purewal who crashed a shot against the Benfield post and away to safety. That proved to be vital piece of good luck for the visitors as they would have been totally out of the game but a minute later they were back in the match when they won a penalty after Jack Devlin was fouled; up stepped PAUL BRAYSON to hit the ball high into the roof of the net making the score 2-1 to Shildon.
With fifty five minutes of the match gone Shildon had a great chance to get their third goal,an excellent run down the wing by Purewal ended with a fine cross onto the head of Greulich-Smith who missed an absolute sitter, heading wide of the goal from six yards under no pressure. On the hour mark Shildon were indebted to newly signed keeper Peter Jefferies. A terrific run from Jack Devlin started on the half way line, advancing forward he eased past two Shildon players before hitting a 20 yard drive which was just tipped over the bar for a corner. The game was going end to end with the second half being much better to watch. It was the home teams turn to have an effort on goal in the 62nd minute; Purewal was the supplier when he crossed to Greulich-Smith who again put his effort over the bar. Three minutes later a pass was played into Lewis Wing and a good quick turn created him space to shoot but his shot was deflected just wide of the goal for a corner.
Newcastle Benfield almost handed a third goal on a plate to Shildon in the 66th minute, a poor header meant for the Benfield keeper was under hit giving Lewis Wing a good chance but Grainger came rushing from his area to make a strong tackle clearing the ball to safety. A chance to both sides came in the 69th and 70th minutes. The first came for Benfield when an excellent three man move saw Cornish cross a dangerous pass across goal just going past the advancing Scott McCarthy. From this chance Benfield were then under pressure and for the second time and Shildon can count themselves unfortunate not to get a third when they again hit the wood work with a strong shot from Lewis Wing.
Although he is over six foot and scored with a looping header Billy Greulich-Smith isn’t the greatest threat in the air and this was proved when a fine cross from Dan Groves gave him an easy goal scoring chance which he put wide of the post. With five minutes to go only a brilliant save from debutant keeper Peter Jefferies stopped Benfield from equalising, a perfectly weighted pass down the flanks by Dylan McAvoy found John Campbell, despite being marked he managed to turn his defender and bend a shot destined for the top corner of the goal only for the keeper to make a flying save leaving the score 2-1 to Shildon which was the final score.
Although Benfield were beaten they put up an excellent show against a very good experienced team who will there or thereabouts with regard to winning the league and Vase, there were many pluses for the management team to look at with excellent contributions from the youngsters who were not overwhelmed by the opposition.