Following a 3-0 success over Seaham Red Star Newcastle Benfield welcomed back Josh Scott from a spell with Consett, as well as Jon Mellish on loan from Gateshead for their second home game in a week against struggling Washington. Even better, Jon was accompanied by stylish, ball-playing midfielder Elliott Forbes as well. With Rhys Evans fired up and determined to make a show against his old team, the Lions began the game like an express train. Wave after wave of home attacks, on an absolutely filthy afternoon, rained down on an ever more unsettled Mechanics defence. Benfield had pace, skill, guile and flair in spades and it seemed only a matter of time before the Washington back line was breached.
On 9 minutes Paul Brayson was unmarked 5 yards out at the far post. When he accepted an astute, pinpoint cross from Jake Orrell, the crowd were already celebrating. Astonishingly, Brassy lifted the ball six inches the wrong side of the post and put his head in his hands, as did I. When looking up again, the welcome sight of Brayson hooking a loose ball home from 10 yards meant Benfield had taken the lead after 10 minutes. The heavy, greasy pitch caused many a slip among the visiting defence, giving the pacy home side plenty of opportunities that were all squandered. Jake Orrell had the ball in the net but was flagged offside. Moments later he ran onto a Brayson through ball and put the ball inches wide. Brayson himself profited from a Washington slip and chipped the ball agonisingly too high. Dylan McEvoy picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and fired in a left foot blow that flicked off a Washington heel and just went wide. The corner came in and Richie slaughter’s toe poke was smothered on the line. Incredibly it was 1-0 at half time when it could have been 5 at least.
The second half began in the same fashion; Benfield swarming forward and Washington defending heroically. Brassy accepted a through ball from debutant Forbes, went around Washington keeper Dan Gladstone and fired wide on 47 minutes. Two minutes later, Jon Mellish hit the bar with a header from a corner. When the ball rebounded to him, Mellish headed the ball a fraction over the top. Finally, right on the hour, it was 2-0; that man Brayson hit an impressive, unstoppable low volley after a precise cross from the right by Jake Orrell. After this, with each team making a trio of substitutions, the rain becoming incessant and the pitch an energy sapping bog, the pace of the game slowed, and action dried up. On 88 minutes, Washington’s Alex White pounced on a loose ball after an extended game of pinball in the box, hammering home to halve the deficit. Game on! Straight from kick off Gladstone sliced a clearance to Brayson, who crashed it home for his hat trick. Job done. Game over!
Man of the Match: Paul Brayson