Fantastic coverage in the Sunday Sun by Mark Carruthers of Non League Football with an exclusive on Newcastle Benfield.
Match report by Ian Cusack
Newcastle Benfield’s unbeaten start to the season was ended by a clinical Marske United side who scored their first early, then absorbed all the home side could throw at them in a spirited second half comeback, before sealing the points with a clinical second. Marske United, despite having seemingly lost their large and loud crowd of travelling ultras, will more than likely finish in the top 5 and it was instructive for Benfield to come up against quality opposition that appear not to have a weakness in their side from back to front; hopefully the Lions will learn the need for concentration in defence, guile in midfield and ruthlessness up front. That said, Benfield were understrength, with Dylan McEvoy, Thursday night’s hat trick hero Mark Donninger and Alex Nisbet all unavailable; the loss of 3 quality players is clearly a difficult blow and one that Benfield did not recover from.
Everything could have been different if Benfield had been awarded a penalty in the first minute, when Paul Brayson was hauled over in the area when about to tap in a Mark Turnbull cross. Sadly the assistant was considerably behind play and felt unable to give a decision.
The first opening for Marske came after 10 minutes when perennially dangerous striker Danny Earl latched onto a loose ball and lobbed the advancing Andrew Grainger, but this effort lacked any pace and James Novak shepherded the ball away with breaking sweat. The dazzlingly bright sunshine was augmented by a stiff westerly breeze and climactic conditions almost intervened when Paul Brayson’s 16th minute, wind-assisted cross cum shot drifted agonisingly wide.
The game was played at breakneck pace, with both teams exhibiting a passing game and Marske were the side to break the deadlock. Another foul on Brayson went ignored, this time in the centre circle, allowing the visitors to move swiftly forward down the right. DANNY EARL was in the right place at the near post to divert a low cross high into the net from about the six yard line. Marske did not threaten again before the break, though Benfield had two presentable opportunities; firstly Scott McCarthy was crowded out by a posse of defenders in the area and then Lewis Scorgie glanced a John Campbell cross a fraction too high.
Marske enjoyed a period of dominance early in the second period, with Earl guilty of fluffing his lines when well placed. It seemed as if that error may prove vital when the livewire Joe Hailes was introduced for the injured Scott McCarthy. The carrot-topped former Chester le Street winger produced a memorable cameo, running the visitors’ defence ragged and producing a series of balls into the box that were defended with determination. Benfield increased the pressure further with another inspired substitution; Steve Bowey’s relentless running and tenacious tackling further discomfited Marske. Just when it seemed an equaliser was likely, the game went away from Benfield. Out of nowhere, left back LUKE O’SULLIVAN exchanged passes on the edge of the box, before firing a low shot past Andrew Grainger. This was a hammer blow and only two late stops from Grainger prevented a heavier defeat, as Benfield heads dropped. However, the quality of the opposition should not be underestimated.
Man of the Match: Joe Hailes