This season’s local derby opponents for Newcastle Benfield are Team Northumbria. In the first Coach Lane Mini Clasico of the season, Benfield returned pointless down Red Hall Drive after a thoroughly disappointing evening when, for the second game in succession, The Lions failed to score a goal. The single, definitive strike of the encounter was a high quality one, scored in the 6th minute by home centre forward ANDREI ARDELLEAN. Adrian Heywood escaped the attentions of both James Novak and the returning Mark Doninger, tore down the right wing and played in an excellent cross for the on-rushing Ardellean to sweep home from 10 yards. It was the first and solitary chance Team North created for at least another hour of playing time, but it was enough.
In no way could it be claimed that Team North clung on desperately to their lead; their intense work rate, high tempo harrying and intelligent defence meant that they were simultaneously better all over the park than Benfield in the opening 30 minutes and rarely in possession of the ball. The Lions went close from a speculative John Campbell thunderbolt that whistled over, a Lewis Scorgie just wide from a Dylan McEvoy free kick and Doninger’s low drive, but the closest to an equaliser was Paul Brayson being denied by keeper Stefan Holden rushing from his line and spreading himself in the 39th minute.
After the break, Benfield plugged away until the 70 minute mark, with half chances coming and going, especially Campbell shooting just over from the angle. Sadly, Team North’s indomitable defensive spirit fatigued and frustrated the visitors, who resorted to aimless high balls forward, instead of exploiting the success gained from getting in behind the full backs. Indeed, in the last section of the game, the only side like to score were Team North, with Andrew Grainger pulling off good stops from both Robbie Spence and substitute Scott Gunn to leave the final score 1-0.