F.A. Vase favourites South Shields were the visitors to Sam Smith’s Park for the second time in two weeks. The Mariners were on the crest of a wave having disposed of Newport Pagnell 6-1 in the Quarter final of the vase and now have a two legged semi-final to look forward to in their quest to get to Wembley.
A competitive game was envisaged as had occurred in the two previous matches, it was the home team in the 4th minute who had the first shooting chance; a long pass from Scott McCarthy found Paul Brayson with the Benfield striker immediately laying the ball off to Josh Scott who hit a strong shot just over the cross bar.Two Minutes later and it was the turn of the Mariners to get on the offensive; Carl Finnigan gained possession advancing forward to hit a shot well saved by the outstretched legs of Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger. The 11th minute of the match came and Newcastle Benfield had a great opportunity to open the scoring, a well weighted thru ball from Dylan McEvoy put John Campbell in on a one on one situation with Shields keeper Liam Connell but it was the keeper who came out on top saving the ball and keeping the scores level. It was the hosts again who came close to opening the scoring when in the 21st minute when a pass down the left wing was pounced on by John Campbell who crossed to the far post to find Scott McCarthy, controlling the ball the Benfield flying machine cut in to hit a decent left foot shot which went just wide of the Shields goal.
Both teams within two minutes of each other had shooting chances; firstly in the 34th minute Benfield’s Paul Brayson played a pass to John Campbell and his cross again found Scott McCarthy who saw his attempt on goal was well blocked by Darren Lough for a corner. South Shields striker Carl Finnegan was the next to go on the attack, receiving the ball just inside the centre circle he advanced to the edge of the Benfield penalty area to strike a strong shot going just wide of the Benfield goal. The last five minutes of the half only brought two incidents of note although no free kick was given in his favour Callum Uddgren was carried off and is likely to be out for at least four weeks after South Shields Wayne Phillips left his studs on the ankle of the young Benfield midfielder, as well as flicking out with his boot when disentangling. The second incident came with a minute to go in the first half; South Shields were awarded a free kick in a central position thirty yards out. Up stepped Michael Richardson to hit one of the worst free kicks seen at Sam Smith’s Park with the ball ending in the Bowling Green outside the ground and with that the half ended at 0-0.
Seven minutes had elapsed when Benfield put in their first real attack of the half, after a decent team build up the ball came to Matty Fisher who saw his shot deflected for a corner. South Shields Carl Finnigan was given a good chance to get on the scoring sheet in the 55th minute, a pass from Alex Nicholson found him thirty yards out turning to hit a shot well over the cross bar. South Shields were having most of the possession but were not really troubling Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger who had to deal with the odd cross or dead ball situation but he wasn’t diving all over having to bring off save after save. In fact it was South Shields keeper Liam Connell who kept his team on level terms with three almost identical saves from three similar positions The first came in the 63rd minute from a Benfield free kick in a central position; it was 25 yards out and up stepped Paul Brayson to strike a well hit shot well held by Connell. The second came a minute later from a similar position but this time it was taken by John Campbell who thought he had scored only for Connell to produce an even better save than the first effort.
Both teams were desperately looking to open the scoring with the next chance coming in the 74th minute; again it was another Benfield free kick from a similar position. It was Brayson who stepped up to take his second free kick but again Liam Connell was up to the occasion saving well for a third time. It was Even Stevens for the next ten minutes then in the 86th minute a goal was scored. South Shields were awarded a corner out on the Benfield right, from the resultant flag kick taken by Andrew Stephenson, Sam Smiths park erupted unfortunately for Benfield it was the Mariners supporters who were celebrating when substitute LOUIS STOREY headed the ball into the net to make the score 1-0 to South Shields which was the score at full time. It was hard to decide what was most disappointing; the result or the injury to Callum Uddgren.