Senior Cup Match report
Newcastle Benfield’s 14 year wait for an appearance in the Northumberland Senior Cup final goes on, after they were unceremoniously turfed out of the last 4 of the competition by Newcastle United’s Under 23 team on a freezing Friday evening at Whitley Park in front of a crowd of 479. Disappointingly the final score did not reflect the efforts put in by a spirited and competitive Benfield side, shorn of flu victim club captain Mark Turnbull and the midfield creativity of Dylan McEvoy, injured in the warm up, who remained in the contest until Callum Roberts added an unfair gloss to the result with his second of the evening after 81 minutes.
The game started off fairly even and low-key, with neither side showing much attacking intent in a cagey opening 20 minutes. Things changed when Roberts opened the scoring; the former Kilmarnock loanee, decisively cut in from the right and buried a low, hard shot inside the near post, past the desperate dive of Andrew Grainger. The goal came out of the blue and rocked the Lions back on their heels and the full-time Magpies, including long time reserve and member of the 25-man Premier League Newcastle squad, Australian centre back Curtis Good, were content to pass the ball around without much intent to punish their Northern League opponents. Particularly eye-catching in possession was Liberian Mohammed Sangare, who looked a cut above every other player in a black and white shirt. He profited from a miskick in the visitors’ penalty area by slamming home a loose ball on 37 minutes to put the Magpies 2-0 ahead and seemingly settled the contest before the interval, much to the disappointment of the sizeable and vociferous travelling contingent.
After the resumption, Benfield enjoyed long periods of dominance, with decent efforts by Jake Orrell and substitute Elliott Forbes causing some discomfort in the United defence. However, the real moment was Paul Brayson’s only real chance of the evening on 70 minutes; seizing possession of a loose ball in the box, he turned and fired in a bullet of a shot that whistled inches past the far post. If that had gone in, who knows what could have transpired. Instead, Newcastle introduced impressive left winger Callum Smith, whose attacking cameo nullified the influence of Benfield right back Rhys Evans, who had previously enjoyed the freedom of the flank to rampage up and down. Smith it was who pulled the ball back for Roberts to complete the scoring. At that point Benfield heads dropped and only a couple of tremendous late saves from the ever-dependable Andy Grainger kept the score to a realistic, if harsh, 3-0. Sadly another route to silverware has disappeared and Newcastle United will play Morpeth Town in the final at St James Park sometime in May.