What is it that makes Benfield THE place to watch football in the city, apart from being the top team in Newcastle excluding United? Try asking the 428 spectators who took in a match that had three goals, a missed penalty, a scored penalty and a blatant penalty not given despite everyone in the ground hearing the contact on the player. Add onto this a sending off for two yellow cards and to level the numbers out a sending off with a straight red card. Why would you want to go anywhere else?
The match in question was a game against the highly rated, favourites for the F.A. Vase in the shape of South Shields F.C. The visitors brought a terrific support with them and nearly conceded an opening goal in the 4th minute; a strong run down the right wing by Scott McCarthy saw him easily drift past Shields full back Darren Lough, advancing to the goal line he cut the ball back to team mate Tom McNamee who hit a precise shot towards the top left hand corner of the goal, only to see Mariners’ keeper Liam Connell pull off a brilliant save.
The ten minute mark arrived and this time it was the turn of the Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger to show off his talents. Louis Storey played a well weighted through ball into the path of Michael Richardson giving him a one on one situation with the Benfield keeper. Despite having a great scoring chance he elected to pass to Craig Baxter who was in a no better scoring situation than him and from Baxter’s shot the Benfield custodian made a good save. However it only took another 4 minutes before the same combination brought South Shields the opening goal, Baxter progressed down the line to attempt to cross the ball which was blocked; the ball rebounded back to MICHAEL RICHARDSON who drove the ball low into the net past the despairing dive of Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger.
South Shields were having most of the possession and were playing the ball around in a confident manner but without causing any major concerns in an attacking sense and it was Newcastle Benfield who came within inches of claiming an equalising goal. In the 28th minute a long clearance out of the Benfield defence was well controlled by Paul Brayson; the striker then ran at the South Shields defence before hitting a cross shot that went inches wide of the South Shields far post. South Shields had an excellent chance to double their score in the 37th minute. Alex Nicholson took a corner on the Benfield right which he floated to the far post, this allowed Darren Lough a free head at goal after he had lost his marker but to the despair of his team mates he headed wide of a gaping goal this left the score at 1-0 to South Shields which it was at half time.
Newcastle Benfield had battled hard in the first half and were still well in the game despite being a goal down and came flying out of the traps in the 1st minute of the second half, Josh Scott went on an exciting run down the left wing before passing to Dylan McEvoy who in turn passed to Scott McCarthy, a swift turn created a shooting chance which went just over the South Shields cross bar. The 51st minute saw a brilliant pass from Dylam McEvoy create a great shooting opportunity for Josh Scott but Liam Connel showed his prowess by producing an excellent save. Newcastle Benfield had defender Moussa Bakhti back in the team after several weeks away in his native country France. He had been a big miss to the team with his pace and his fine attitude to the game. In the 61st minute he came to the rescue of his team, a corner came over, taken by Wayne Phillips, this was cleared back to him with his second cross finding the head of Louis Storey, his header looked destined for the net but up popped Moussa to head the ball away to safety off the line leaving one goal between the teams.
The home team were still well in the game but were dealt a blow in the 65th minute when centre back Stephen Tobin was sent off for getting a second yellow card making the task that bit harder. Despite being a man down Benfield were still attacking well and were showing grit and determination in attack and defence. Within five minutes of going down to ten men prolific goal scorer Paul Brayson should have equalised. Benfield’s man of the match Scott McCarthy produced a great cross giving the striker a free head at goal from only six yards but he headed the ball wide off the goal to the dismay of both team mates and supporters. Despite Newcastle Benfield being down to ten men they hadn’t looked in any real danger of conceding a goal with all the team putting in a good shift in both attack and defence. With this attitude the home team unsurprisingly got an equalising goal, a pass down the middle in the 72nd minute saw Brayson control the ball and advance into the South Shields penalty area before he was pulled back by ex-Benfield player Dylan Morse who was sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity with Benfield also getting a penalty. It was PAUL BRAYSON who stepped to the spot and sent the Mariners keeper Liam Connell the wrong way making the score 1-1.
With only ten minutes of the match to go it looked as if the any goal scored would be the winner but as both teams were defending well it looked likely that it would be decided on a penalty shootout. However in the 80th minute South Shields got a second goal, the ball was won in mid field and passed to substitute Gavin Cogdon, who advanced forward before playing a pass to MICHAEL RICHARDSON. He then took the ball around Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger before rolling the ball into an empty net making the score 2-1 to South Shields.
It looked all over for Newcastle Benfield in a well contested game but they were handed a life line in the 85th minute, a cross by Matty Cornish was deemed to be handled by Alex Nicholson with the referee awarding Benfield a second penalty. Up again stepped Paul Brayson to take the penalty but this time his strong shot crashed off the cross bar and away to safety. With that South Shields played out the remaining five minutes winning 2-1 and proceeding to the semi-final.