Newcastle Benfield’s most important game of the season took place when they entertained Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round.

A very difficult game was envisaged against a team that played three divisions higher and who were also full time professional footballers.

This became abundantly clear from the off as the visitors were soon out of the traps and in the 2nd minute could have taken the lead after a swift move down the right flank saw the captain Ryan Croasdale  given a good chance to shoot at goal but he hit his effort wide of the far post. Two minutes later a brilliant run by Emmanuel Sonupe again down the Benfield right, saw him beating three Benfield defenders before delivering a poor cross way out of reach of any team mates.

Twelve minutes had passed when a long pass down the middle was brilliantly dealt with by Harriers keeper Brandon Hall, from a very good starting position he came out of  his goal area and  chested  the ball down before launching a counter attack with a long through ball resulting in Benfield captain Mark Turnbull just managing to head the ball back to his keeper, nearly scoring an own goal in the process bringing a fine save out of his own goal keeper Andrew Grainger. It was the turn of the Harriers keeper Brandon Hall to show off his ability in the 15th minute when Benfield were awarded a free kick just outside of the penalty area,

up stepped Paul Brayson to hit a strong drive which brought out a good save from the Harriers custodian. Three minutes later Steve Bowey played Brassy in again but again the keeper got down well to a left foot shot.

A speculative effort by Andre Brown nearly brought the opening goal of the game after he hit a shot which looked well over the Benfield goal but suddenly dipped and only cleared the bar by a matter of inches. A minute later in the 25th minute a mistake by Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger almost gifted a goal to the visitors; he came out to catch the ball and flapped at it just pushing it a few yards out where Joe Ironside was unlucky with an overhead kick going just wide. Kidderminster were moving the ball around well and were on top but were not really getting behind the  Benfield defence with their efforts on goal being easily held by Andrew Grainger but he had to be at his best in the 27th minute when a brilliant strike by Andre Brown brought an equally good save from the Benfield keeper.

Newcastle Benfield were dealt a huge blow in the 39th minute; recently signed from Morpeth central defender Matty Grieve

who was having a fine season went into a tackle. Immediately a crack was heard which led to him being stretchered off and taken to hospital, unfortunately to find he had broken his shinbone.

Substitute Laquan Esdaille came on as substitute and he nearly, without knowing anything about it, scored an own goal with his first touch after the ball just ricocheted off him, bringing a good save out of team mate Andrew Grainger. This left the halftime score 0-0 with the home team battling well against a good team who moved the ball around well.

Kidderminster had obviously had a good half time talking to as they came flying out in the second half and  could have had goals within the first five minutes of the half, Joel Taylor advanced down the Benfield right and produced  a fantastic cross which was met by Emmanuel Sonupe who headed inches over the bar. In the 2nd minute substitute Sam Austin cut in and with the Benfield back four retreating he let fly at the Benfield goal only to see his effort deflect off Benfield central defender Lewis Scorgie for a corner. Three minutes later and Benfield were indebted to the skills of keeper Andrew Grainger,a run down the right by Sonupe saw his perfectly delivered cross find  the head of  team mate Elton Ngwatala who saw his firm header brilliantly saved by the home  team keeper This save was followed by another  two minutes later when again it was Ngwatala  from the edge of the Benfield penalty area who was denied a goal by another  fine save.

Little had been seen in an attacking sense by Benfield who were playing with only one up, they were proving hard to break down but succumbed to the Harriers pressure in the 66th minute. Substitute Andre Wright advanced on a roving run down the right advancing towards the Benfield by line before pulling the ball back across  the Benfield six yard box to find  the advancing JOE IRONSIDE who gleefully hit the ball into the net making the score 1-0 to Kidderminster Harriers.

Benfield were having to become a little bit more adventurous in order to get back on level terms and in the 78th minute the ground erupted when a brilliant cross from Dylan McEvoy saw Paul Brayson score with an equally brilliant finish,

unfortunately he had drifted a yard offside and to his anguish he realized the linesman had flagged with the goal being disallowed.

In the 86th minute another of Benfield’s substitutes Marc Dummett made a briilliant block to stop the visitors doubling their score after a Sam Austin cross found goalscorer Joe Ironside. Time was running out but the Harriers comfortably held out for the rest of the half winning 1-0. Although defeated the Benfield players were being able to hold their heads high for their effort.

Hopefully any new supporters to Sam Smith’s Park will have been impressed and start to come regularly to support the Lions, where you will be most welcome.

Footage courtesy of Kidderminster Harriers fc. 👇

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