SUNDERLAND RCA 0 NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 1
Newcastle Benfield get off to a flying start
The 2018/2019 season got underway on a gloriously sunny afternoon at Sunderland RCA’s welcoming and well-appointed Meadow Park. Even before a ball was kicked, there was drama with the home side’s goalkeeping coach Lenny French suffering a suspected heart attack in the warm up, which resulted in an ambulance being called. Thankfully it appears that he is not as ill as feared and is making a recovery. All of us at Benfield wish him the very best for a speedy return to good health.
Benfield were without Mark Turnbull, Matty Grieve, Alex Nisbet and the injured Lewis Scorgie, though manager Mark Convery still had 18 players at his disposal. The chosen 16 boasted 5 new signings, including 4 of the starting eleven. Each one of them was to make a significant contribution as the visitors grew appreciably in strength as the game wore on and ran out far more comfortable winners than the final score suggests.
The game began with Benfield kicking down the appreciable slope on an immaculate pitch, though the first opening of the game went to the home side. A bout of ping pong in the Benfield area saw a cross shot diverted away from goal, with RCA players vainly claiming for handball. This, sadly, was a repeated feature of the RCA mindset, as risible, orchestrated claims for offside, fouls and the like accompanied every marginal decision. After 15 minutes, wholly inaccurate claims for offside issued forth when Dean Holmes, who had a magisterial debut on the left side of attack, burst through a static home defence and fired against the base of the post with keeper Keith Finch rooted to the spot. Paul Brayson recycled the loose ball and his teasing cross was volleyed fractionally over by Jake Orrell. It was a good opportunity and as close to an opening goal as we would come in the first half. Benfield’s other significant chance came on the half hour, when Brayson received a short ball at the edge of the area from Joe Hailes but was only able to steer his half-hit effort wide of the post. At the other end, Andrew Grainger was called on to make a smart stop, low to his right from Stephen Callen after 35 minutes, but had little meaningful work to do other than collecting loose, long or aimless balls into the area as RCA’s game plan of exploiting their presumed height advantage foundered on the immaculate displays at centre half by debutants Joe Robson and deputising captain Craig Scott.
The decisive goal came soon after the resumption, when Richie Slaughter’s chipped ball over the top of a flatfooted RCA defence was gathered by Brayson. A touch to steady himself was followed by a snorting drive into the top corner that flashed past the bemused Finch. From that point on, it was clear only one side would win. While RCA’s one-dimensional long ball tactics highlighted the absence of a Plan B for the home side, and their voluble entreaties to the officials became ever more desperate, Benfield calmly wrested control of the game, enjoying dominance until the final whistle. There could, and perhaps should, have been more goals. Firstly, a Jordan Laidler cross was nodded home by Craig Scott, only for the referee to disallow on the pretext of a foul on the keeper, which seems ever more arcane when studying video footage of the incident. Then, with Jack Devlin, Scott McCarthy and Dale Pearson appearing in place of Brayson, Holmes and Orrell, keeper Finch raced from his area to upend the flying McCarthy. Pearson’s resultant free kick was nodded a fraction over the bar by the on-rushing Robson. Despite 6 minutes of added time, there were no dramas in the away penalty area and an impressive Lions cruised to a comfortable win.
Man of the Match: Joe Robson
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