Having failed to take the chances that would have eased their progress through the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie with Stockton Town at the first time of asking, Newcastle Benfield made no mistake in the replay at a rain-lashed Bishopton Road, producing a ruthless, dominant performance in which they controlled the game from first kick to last and were demonstrably a cut above their opponents in every position on the park. The 3-0 away win, which sets up a home tie against West Auckland Town on Saturday 25th August, in no way flattered The Lions, as Stockton keeper Michael Arthurs performed miracles to keep the score respectable. Stockton’s 4G pitch, with an added degree of zip from the deluge that began an hour before kick-off, was suited to Benfield’s high-tempo, short, passing game. Skipper Mark Turnbull returned at the centre of defence for his first game of the season, allowing Joe Robson to push forward into midfield and produce another eye-catching display, while Dale Pearson came in for Dean Holmes as the attacking left sided player and gave a stunning Man of the Match display that demonstrates the depth and quality of the squad manager Mark Convery and Craig Heward have assembled.
Similar to Saturday’s first game, Benfield were on top from the first whistle. On 7 minutes Paul Brayson’s cross was fractionally too high for Jake Orrell, while Dylan McEvoy’s speculative effort a minute later thudded into keeper Arthurs’ midriff. Brayson saw a close range effort deflected onto the outside of the post on 10 minutes and soon after saw his shot hit the crossbar as the away side swarmed all over their opponents. After 25 minutes, Benfield drew breath and saw the hosts twice have attempts on goal, by the aptly-named Michael Stockton and then Dale Mulligan that Andrew Grainger was equal to. Just as it seemed the game was becoming a contest, Dylan McEvoy’s sumptuous pass into the feet of Dale Pearson allowed the impressive striker to finish unerringly into the bottom corner to give Benfield a deserved lead on 34 minutes. This became 2-0 on 42 minutes when the Stockton failed to cut out a ball to Paul Brayson. The veteran striker ran free on the left side of the area, before pulling the ball back to Jake Orrell who gleefully smashed it home. It was almost 3-0 seconds later when an astute pass by Joe Robson set Brayson in on goal, but his touch let him down. The final act of the half saw Andy Grainger confidently hold a long-range free kick from James Ward.
Seconds after the restart, Arthurs distinguished himself with a stunning low save to deny Brayson’s venomous volley from the edge of the area. Twice Dale Pearson saw Arthurs deny him; once from a deft lob and once from a speculative dig from distance. Finally it was 3-0, when Dale Mulligan scythed down Brayson in the area. The penalty and red card were inevitable but, having seen his kick saved in the first game, Brayson was taking nothing for granted and lashed the ball into the roof of the net. With the game won, Convery made changes, allowing Jack Devlin, Mackenzie Heaney and Dean Holmes to gain valuable time on the pitch. The three of them repeatedly set up promising attacks, but desperate and at times heroic defending by the tenacious hosts ensured there would be no further goals. At the other end, trademark excellence by Andy Grainger saw a clean sheet maintained on what was a superb night for Benfield.
Man of the Match: Dale Pearson
Really pleased to get through against a really good Stockton Town team. We had some good cup runs last year and it’s important to the club in terms of the finances. I’m pleased with the start we have made but still feel there is a lot more to come from this group of players and looking forward to our next game
Craig Heward added
Full value for the win and if we look back it should have been more very pleasing to keep another clean sheet which is 1 goal conceded in 4 games and the goals look like they are beginning to come so very pleased with performance and result and looking forward to the next round
Match Report Ian cusack
Action photos courtesy of Harold Cook photography
Website -Steve Boyle
Match footage by Luke Vinton
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