Newcastle Benfield 5
Bishops Auckland 1
A Hatrick from Newcastle Benfield striker Jack Devlin who recently returned to the Lions and a Brace from Paul Brayson sealed an emphatic win for the Northern League’s form team.
Another good performance a bit disappointed to concede but we look to keep improving and keep the run going
During Newcastle Benfield’s 15 years in the Northern League, the club has been blessed with some of the finest strikers at semi-professional level in the region. To this day, Michael Chilton is regularly finding the target for Blyth AFC and John Campbell is doing the business for Jarrow Roofing, while our own Paul Brayson has notched a minimum of 40 goals in each of his seasons at Sam Smith’s Park and is on course to hit 50 for the second campaign in a row. However, with all due deference to Brassy’s wonderful predatory penalty instincts, one wonders whether the Lions have ever known a finisher as flamboyant as Jack Devlin. He was only with us briefly before his year in the Potteries with Stoke City, but he lit up the place with his astonishing and audacious finishing. He has returned to us a better player and we are truly blessed to have him in our ranks. The hat trick he completed this evening was undoubtedly worthy of the professional game.
Bishop Auckland travelled to Tyneside in poor form, looking nervously over their shoulders at the sides below them in the table in the relegation zone. They would return home in even worse fettle, gloomily having to absorb the damage a comprehensive defeat has done to their goal difference. Of course 2017/2018 started with a severe thumping for Bishops against Benfield, when The Lions travelled to Heritage Park and recorded a 7-3 win; in the early stages, it was clear Bishops were not in the mood for such a scoreline again, as they set up with a very attacking formation with Chris Winn and the tireless, imposing Ian Ward, so often a thorn in Benfield flesh, up top. Sadly, this meant they were short in midfield where Richy Slaughter and Elliott Forbes made merry all night. The visitors had been pushed back from the opening moments and eventually conceded on 19 minutes when Paul Brayson slid the ball home from a tight angle after a superb pass by Dylan McEvoy.
It could have been so much different if Andrew Grainger had not produced an astonishing reflex save with his legs moments later, to deny Bishops captain Shaun Ryder. The visitors were to rue the agility of the home custodian when Forbes produced a perfectly weighted ball that split the Bishops defence and allowed Jack Devlin to collect it, dummy both keeper and covering defender, to make the score 2-0 at half time. This by no means flattered Benfield, who had been in the ascendancy all game.
The second period reinforced the superiority of the men from Sam Smith’s as Bishops were simply blown away by the quality of Benfield’s play. It became 3-0 when Jake Orrell did wonderfully well down the right-hand side and emerged from a tussle with the ball. He hit the dead ball line and crossed perfectly, rolling to ball into the path of Devlin to roll it exquisitely home. Game over and soon Orrell and Josh Scott gave way to Joe Hailes and last Friday’s match-winner at North Shields, Scott McCarthy. With almost his first touch, he drove into the Bishops area and was scythed down. Up stepped that man Brayson to send McHugh the wrong way from the spot and make it 4-0.
Jack Devlin saved his best until last and on 80 minutes collected the ball near the left-hand corner flag. With dazzling skill, he beat half a dozen defenders, before finding himself in the arc of the penalty area. He allowed the ball to run across his body and, when slightly off balance, executed a sublime chip that made Phillipe Albert’s goal versus Manchester United look like a tap-in. The crowd were still applauding as Bishop Auckland essayed a rare forward move and grabbed a consolation, courtesy of a smart finish by substitute Joe Grant. It was no consolation; Benfield were unstoppable tonight and Jack Devlin produced a performance that made us honoured to see him play.
Man of the Match: Jack Devlin