The result, a single goal victory for the home side, may have been the same as the previous Tuesday’s EBAC Northern League clash between the two sides, but the two games were as different as diamonds and graphite.
Where the league game had been a low-key, cautious encounter, the FA Cup clash was a no-holds barred, blood and thunder, classic from the first whistle to the last. It was decided, just after the hour, by a stupendous volley from Dale Pearson, who continued to demonstrate the excellent form he has shown since his arrival in pre-season. Manager Mark Convery was forced into one significant change from Tuesday’s team, with Dylan McEvoy filling in at left back for the injured James Martin and producing an eye-catching display that earned him the Man of the Match accolade. However, he wasn’t alone in putting in a superb shift; Dale Pearson, as already mentioned, the reliable Mark Turnbull and the tireless Jake Orrell were all exceptional performers and an indication why Benfield started the game on the front foot.
As one could have predicted, the minimal difference in quality between the two impressive squads meant that there was very little to choose between them, with the referee being very keen to rule most strong challenges as fair and allowing the game to flow. The first significant chance came on 20 minutes, when Paul Brayson was tripped on the edge of the area. He took the kick himself and only a West Auckland defensive head’s intervention stopped the ball from arrowing into the top corner. At the other end, Andrew Grainger produced an incredible save from Nathan Fisher, spreading himself expertly to deny the marauding Auckland forward. Skipper Turnbull was expertly placed to nod away the follow-up effort by Aaron Wearmouth. One last chance before the break saw Orrell’s expertly executed pass set Brayson free on goal, but artful Auckland defending steered him away from goal and Pearson’s deflected effort with the loose ball bounced harmlessly into keeper Bland’s arms.
The second period saw Benfield again in the ascendancy. On 50 minutes Pearson’s corner was tipped onto the bar and then over by Bland. However, ten minutes later, a cross from the other side saw Pearson react quickly after a bout of pinball and smash an unstoppable volley past Bland into the roof of the net. West attempted to get back in the game but found little change from a mean Lions defence. Indeed, following the introduction of substitute Dennis Knight, it was the home side who looked most likely to score, as the visitors poured forward, leaving holes in their defence. Knight fired in two speculative shots that were a yard wide of either side of the goal. Despite a couple of late comic miskicks by Andy Grainger, the home side prevailed and will take their place in the first qualifying round on September 8th.
Man of the Match: Dylan McEvoy
Thanks to Newcastle Benfield Juniors for providing the Lucky Mascots 👍⚽️
Match report Ian cusack
Photos Paul Mcfeeley
Video coverage Luke Vinton
Website Steve Boyle