Newcastle Benfield travelled the short distance up the A1 for what was expected to be a tough game against the current F.A. Vase holders Morpeth Town. Morpeth are still in with a chance of winning the Northern league although due to their Vase run this season it meant that they have played 5 or 6 games less than some teams above them making the task ahead very difficult.
Benfield almost got off to the perfect start when in the 3rd minute the ball was won in midfield by Tom McNamee who then played in Paul Brayson. Although the striker was in with a great shooting opportunity surprisingly he passed the ball to John Campbell who saw his shot hit the Morpeth bar but it wouldn’t have counted had he scored as the linesman had his flag raised for offside; It was the home team that nearly scored in the 5th minute, Ben Sayer floated in a free kick to the far post from way out on the Morpeth right wing, although there was a shout from the Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger for keepers ball Lewis Scorgie got to it just before his keeper with the ball hitting the cross bar and away for a corner. In the 9th minute Benfield were awarded a free kick just outside of the Morpeth penalty area; up stepped Paul Brayson to drive the ball inches wide of the Morpeth goal with their keeper Karl Dryden rooted to the spot.
It was the turn of the home team as the clock reached the 14th minute to nearly open the scoring. The Morpeth captain Sean Taylor progressed down the Benfield left doing well to beat two Benfield defenders before producing an excellent back heel into the path of Liam Henderson who saw his well struck shot bring out a good save from the Benfield keeper who parried his shot but the save by Grainger from the rebound was even better again saving from Henderson.
Benfield were still in the game despite Grainger being the more active of the keepers. Scott McCarthy did well in the 17th minute driving forward to supply the ball into John Campbell who controlled the ball advanced forward to hit a strong shot well saved by Morpeth keeper Karl Dryden. Within a minute it was the turn of the Benfield keeper to keep the scores level at 0-0, Joe Walton controlled a long pass from the right wing and turned to hit a fierce drive on goal only for Grainger to bring off a great save for a corner. From the dead ball kick Walton was again unfortunate not to score when header when his header hit the post and was scrambled clear by the Benfield defence. Morpeth striker Mark Davison can count himself unfortunate not to open the scoring when in 20th minute an excellent run down the wing saw James Novak produce a fine cross to the far post onto the head of his team mate but unfortunately for Davison his header crashed off the bar and away to safety.
The opening goal of the game came along in the 26th minute of the match. Matty Cornish and John Campbell combined to allow Campbell the chance to advance to the by line before hitting a low cross to the far post to be met by the diving figure of SCOTT McCARTHY who stooped low to head the ball into an empty net to make it 1-0 to Benfield. The home team were stung by the visitors goal and on the half hour play maker Ben Sayer put a terrific move together out on the Benfield left flank; he played three 1-2’s before hitting a well struck shot just clearing the Benfield cross bar. In the 32nd minute Newcastle Benfield had their star of the first half Andrew Grainger yellow carded for allegedly handling the ball out side of his area; a decision he robustly denied but referee Chris Ellis stood by his decision. Morpeth levelled the score in the 34th minute, Ben Sayers who had been the pick of the Morpeth team being behind most of the good pieces of play his team had put together provided a great cross into the Benfield goal area which was met by an equally great header from MARK DAVISON who saw his bullet header flash into the Benfield goal making the score 1-1 which it was at half time.
Whilst Newcastle Benfield had looked dangerous on the break it was Morpeth who were having more shots on goal with Andrew Grainger being up to everything that the home team could throw at him. In the 54th minute he produced a great save from Joe Walton who had got on the end of a cross from Sean Taylor; from the cross he was bewildered to find the visitors’ keeper parry his shot onto the post, with Tom McNamee finishing the clearance to safety. Returning after injury Stephen Tobin did well in the 57th minute to clear the ball for a corner under pressure from Davison; the corner was quickly taken with Benfield slightly losing concentration and allowing Mark Davison to hit a well struck effort only to see Grainger pull off yet another great save.
The turning point of the game came in the 62nd minute, when a through ball saw the Benfield keeper rush out to try and clear the ball, but he only succeeded in fouling Liam Henderson just outside of his penalty box. Having already been cautioned he then received his second yellow followed by a red card. With having no replacement on the bench striker John Campbell took over the goal keeping role leaving a huge hole in an attacking sense for Newcastle Benfield. Morpeth keeper Karl Dryden was called into action in the 67th minute to make a save from a well struck free kick taken by Paul Brayson after a foul on substitute Matty Fisher.
With Benfield down to ten men and without a keeper it looked like it would be a matter of time before the home team got a second goal and it came in the 69th minute, from a quick breakaway the ball was transferred to LIAM HENDERSON who drove forward to drive the ball in at the near post giving Campbell no chance of saving. Campbell then pulled off a good save with his feet in the 73rd minute after Joe Walton got on the end of a cross from substitute Denver Morris but he had no chance in saving a third goal for Morpeth a minute later. Liam Henderson was then the provider sliding a pass into JOE WALTON who made no mistake driving the ball low into the bottom left hand corner of the net making the score 3-1 to Morpeth which was the final score.