Match cover photo Paul Fleming
Having decided to experiment with Thursday evenings for midweek home fixtures in 2017/2018, Newcastle Benfield were rewarded with a crowd of almost 142 for the first instance of such an event when Guisborough Town were the visitors. In return, those in attendance were witness to 6 goals in an open game that, from a home point of view, provided an excellent first half performance and a welcome three points that, after a slight scare, helped to move The Lions up to 6th place in EBAC Northern League Division One, as well as maintaining the unbeaten start to the season. That said, if the defensive frailties that marred the second period are repeated during tougher examinations of Benfield’s mettle, points will not be as easily accrued.
Benfield were forced into one change from Saturday’s FA Cup win at Goole; the creative Dylan McEvoy was absent at something called Creamfields, with his place being taken by the more combative Alex Nisbet. In the early stages, there seemed to be little change in the balance of the team as Benfield’s fluent passing game pushed Guisborough, who have endured some torrid hammerings already this season, right on to the back foot. As early as the second minute, a Paul Brayson corner out on the left caused havoc in the box and twice the ball was hacked off the line, before being unceremoniously booted over the stand to give a modicum of respite for the beleaguered Priorymen’s defence. As a result, it was of no major surprise when the home side took the lead after 10 minutes, though Guisborough’s Snook will have nightmares about the woefully weak back header that allowed Paul Brayson to collect the ball and centre for MARK DONINGER to tap in from 6 yards.
Benfield continued to enjoy control over the game and a series of presentable chances came and went. Brayson’s shot from a John Campbell cross was blocked by a defender. Campbell himself whistled a drive that was deflected wide, before Brayson’s effort from a Doninger through ball rolled agonisingly wide. However a second goal arrived on 39 minutes; Guisborough failed to effectively clear their lines following another Benfield attack, allowing Nisbet’s astute header to set MARK DONINGER free on the edge of the box. His finish was low, accurate and true, sending the home side in at the break with a two goal cushion.
In the second half, Mark Doninger just failed to score his third when he flicked a Campbell cross just wide. He was not to be denied though; tapping in from close range from a Brayson cross right on the hour. At 3-0 with the game seemingly won, manager Mark Convery made changes to protect the squad with the tough task of Marske United at the weekend. Off went Campbell, Matty Grieve and Michael Riley to be replaced by Scott McCarthy, Matty Fisher and Steve Bowey. However, Guisborough took heart from the changes to Benfield’s rhythm and twice profited from defensive errors, with substitute Steven Roberts scoring a brace of well taken goals, though none of the home team’s back line will be pleased with their impersonation of Newcastle United’s comical failures the night before.
A crisis calls for experienced heads; there are none more so at Sam Smith’s Park than Steve Bowey and Paul Brayson. With 5 minutes remaining and a revitalised Guisborough looking for a point, Brayson’s killer low ball into the area was finished emphatically by STEVE BOWEY, despite the attentions of two defenders. The points were safe and the scoring concluded, but complacency needs stamping out as soon as possible.
Man of the Match: Mark Doninger
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Special visitors from BBC radio Newcastle were also in attendance