With a gale force wind and driving rain to contend with, Benfield groundsman Stan Thompson worked wonders in order to get his pitch ready for tonight’s game, especially when one considers how all the other games in the area were off. This game was the second time that Benfield were playing RCA at home as the last game was abandoned in mid-January on account of a frozen pitch, with the opposition a goal to the good at the time.
Apart from being a regular league game, this was the day that entrance was free due the kind gesture of chairman Jimmy Rowe, with all donations on the door and takings from the raffle going to the Cancer Treatment Centre at Ward 34 of the Freeman Hospital, whose staff had looked after Benfield player Kieran Wrightson so well for many weeks. As is always the case in these types of games, there are many people who have worked hard and deserve our thanks: Frank and Eric on the gate collecting donations, Steven Boyle and his 11 year old son Callum who did sterling work in selling raffle tickets walking around the ground in the wind and rain, as well as Ian Cusack, Gary Thompson and Dave Robson for paying the officials. Thanks must also go to the ladies in the Snack Attack who were run off their feet serving hot drinks and also to Ian and Graham behind the bar. Finally there was a brilliant gesture by Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez who, apart from calling Kieran direct on the phone to have a chat, also donated a signed Newcastle shirt for the raffle.
Newcastle Benfield were hoping for a large crowd but many would have been put off by the weather, despite the rain180 spectators turned up. This included spectators and players from near rivals North Shields for who Kieran had played and won a medal in the F.A.Vase. This fine gesture showed the high esteem that Kieran was held in from both his previous and present club.
Benfield started brightly and after five minutes only a great save from Jonathan Carmichael in the RCA goal denied Benfield the opening goal; a fine move involving Dylan McEvoy and Scott McCarthy saw the ball slipped to Scott McCardle who saw his shot well saved.
In the 8th minute Colin Larkin ran down the Benfield left before producing a dangerous cross which looked destined for the head of team mate John Butler until Benfield central defender Stephen Tobin just managed to stretch and head the ball clear from danger. Sunderland R.C.A. almost opened the scoring in the 12th minute, WHEN recent signing Scott McArdle for Benfield fouled Stephen Callen just outside the Benfield penalty area AND Colin Larkin stepped up to just clear the Benfield cross bar by inches.
The two Benfield strikers Campbell and Brayson combined together in the22nd minute, from a breakaway Campbell passed to Brayson who then returned the pass which got caught up in the wind causing, Campbell to be at full stretch and hitting the ball over the bar. At this stage Sunderland R.C.A. were well in the game although not causing great concern to Andrew Grainger in the Benfield goal but they went behind in the 28th minute. An excellent interception by Marc Dummett saw the Benfield defender play a pass to Paul Brayson, he then delicately flicked the ball into the path of JOHN CAMPBELL who advanced forward to drive a left foot shot past RCA keeper Jonathan Carmichael to make the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield. Thirty minutes had gone when a dangerous free kick into the RCA penalty area saw Lewis Scorgie rise to head the ball which went high in the air, this saw Carmichael do well to punch away despite being under pressure again from Scorgie. Within two minutes only a brilliant defensive tackle for a corner from RCA defender Adam McGuinness denied John Campbell after the striker shot from a pass by Scott McCarthy. Sunderland RCA were still in the game despite being a goal down and came close to an equaliser in the 39th minute; a strong run and cross down the left wing by Stephen Callen fell at the feet of James Cassidy who shot just wide of the Benfield goal leaving the score at 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield which was the score at halftime.
The word from the dressing room as the teams came out for the second half was that RCA were whinging to the referee to stop the game, but he was having nothing of it despite atrocious weather. Matty Cornish could have done better in the 49th minute. Marc Dummett played another fine pass to Paul Brayson who cut in to shoot and see his effort deflected for a corner. From the corner Carmichael came for the ball but flapped at it with it falling at the feet of Cornish who put in a poor touch over running the ball out of play. Newcastle Benfield didn’t have to wait long however for their second goal, a long diagonal pass found Paul Brayson, advancing forward he then hit a good shot on target saved with his legs for a corner by Carmichael in the R.C.A. goal. Left footed DYLAN McEVOY took the kick out on the Benfield right with the ball going directly into the goal at the near post making it 2-0 to Newcastle Benfield. With this goal you could see the heads of the RCA team drop before we had the rest of the John Campbell show.
In the 55th minute a Benfield breakaway saw Paul Brayson advance forward with a 3 on 1 attacking situation; despite Campbell being free the striker decided to shoot with Carmichael saving for a corner this saw Stephen Tobin stretch for the ball heading it backwards. The ball fell to Dylan McEvoy with his drive finding the side netting. McEvoy was again in the action in the 58th minute when he played a slide rule through ball into the path of Brayson who shot to see his effort saved by Carmichael; unfortunately for him the ball came back to JOHN CAMPBELL who tapped the ball into the net to make it 3-0.
Five minutes later Campbell took on Luke Richardson, advancing past him he could have done better than hitting the ball over the bar. It didn’t take long for him to get his third goal and Benfield’s fourth. A long through ball was well read by Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger who had advanced outside his area, a deft touch saw him controlling the ball on his chest, he then rolled the ball to Dylan McEvoy who then threaded the ball of the night into the path of JOHN CAMPBELL who advanced forward to slide the ball past the helpless Carmichael making the score 4-0 with his own personal hat trick.
It looked at this stage that Sunderland R.C.A. had given in completely and just wanted the game over so they could go home. In the 71st minute the movement of the two main strikers for Benfield which was causing all kind of problems for R.C.A. saw them combine to set up Matty Cornish but his delicate little chip of the ball failed to deceive Jonathan Carmichael who saved easily. Carmichael was doing his best to keep the score down to a reasonable level and produced an excellent save from Matty Parker who was put through by Paul Brayson.
The fifth goal was soon to come. Paul Brayson passed to substitute Tom Bramley who had recently returned from a long injury, he then played in JOHN CAMPBELL who then went around the keeper to roll the ball in to make the score line 5-0 to Newcastle Benfield. The Benfield striker then had the crowd in raptures, gaining possession of the ball from a short corner he then ran across the field level with the edge of the box going past three defenders before creaming a shot inches over the bar. Eighty four minutes had gone when a long clearance by Grainger bounced over the last defender with Paul Brayson gaining control of the ball, he twisted and turned and should have scored but he passed to Campbell who for a change hit his effort over the bar. Although we were in the last five minutes of the game there was still time to have the last act of the JOHN CAMPBELL show; a cross from the right wing by Paul Brayson found his strike partner at the far post, he side footed the ball home to make the score 6-0 to Newcastle Benfield which was the final score.