Match report by Ian Cusack
Having played 4 successive away games, a fifth in a row was no privation for Newcastle Benfield. On the second anniversary of Mark Convery’s accession to the manager’s role at Sam Smith’s Park, his team secured their fourth successive away victory, in three different competitions, with the minimum of fuss. While the performance may not have been as stellar as the pomp on display at Dunston the previous Saturday, this was good enough for a side suffering three changes because of work issues. Andrew Grainger was replaced between the sticks by Dan Nimmins, who gave another assured display. The bed-bound Ryu Williamson had his place taken by the returning Scott McCarthy, fresh from a fact-finding Welsh visit for the Antony Joshua fight. Finally, Marc Dummett’s delayed arrival saw Lacquan Esdaille take his place in the centre of defence, where the imposing Mancunian stopper showed his worth by turning in a Man of the Match performance.
However, things did not immediately go to plan. A swift, early dart down the left wing by former Benfield youngster Matty Parker saw the visitors switch off, assuming the ball had gone out of play. It may well have, but with the assistant referee behind play, no flag was forthcoming. Instead Parker cut the ball back to the impressive JAKE PICKARD who fired past Nimmins after only 5 minutes. An almost identical move 4 minutes later almost presented Pickard with his second, but his shot across goal struck the inside of the post before bouncing clear. This would not have doubled the home side’s lead, as Benfield were already level. Within a minute of going behind Jake Orrell, as impressive tonight as he was on his debut at Dunston, tore down the Washington right before slinging in a devastating cross that wrongfooted the entire home defence and allowed Joe Hailes to complete a lung-bursting run and bravely knock the ball home at the back post for his second goal in successive games, showing the young wideman is really finding his feet in the team.
Of course, a Benfield performance would not be complete without some input from a gentleman of slightly more advanced years. In the space of two minutes around the half hour mark, Paul Brayson was twice denied by heroic Washington defending. Firstly, a low drive was palmed away by Dan Gladstone, only for it to hit home stopper Michael Laws, but the veteran defender managed to hack the ball away before it bobbled over the line. From the resultant corner, Brayson’s clean strike was deflected up and over the bar when it looked a certain goal. One last curling Orrell effort that drifted wide marked the end of the entertainment and the teams went in level.
On 53 minutes, Brassy was unceremoniously upended on the edge of the Washington box. After a delay in getting the wall back the requisite distance, PAUL BRAYSON arrowed a devastating shot low into the very corner of the net, to score what was effectively the winning goal. Indeed, for the rest of the game Washington had nothing that could be construed as a serious effort on goal, mainly due to the superb shifts put in by the visiting defence, especially Lacquan Esdaille, who was a colossus in the air all night. Benfield, by way of contrast, saw Gladstone spread himself well to deny Orrell and Laws get in the way of another Brayson rocket. Gladstone’s best save came on 80 minutes, when a delightful passing move between Hailes and Brayson saw the latter’s firm shot superbly dealt with by the Washington keeper, who blotted his copybook with a weak, hurried clearance that fell to RICHIE SLAUGHTER in the centre circle. The midfielder took a touch to steady himself, them calmly chipped the ball into the unguarded net, to make the final score 3-1 to Benfield.
Man of the Match: Esdaille