In a tight and tense encounter where both chances and free-flowing football were at a premium, Newcastle Benfield more than matched their illustrious, former Football League opponents and thoroughly merited the chance of a replay at Derwent Park on Tuesday night. Despite being two divisions below their Cumbrian opponents, Benfield were in no way overawed by Workington. However, things may not have gone so well if debutant keeper Matthew Bancroft, deputising for the holidaying Andrew Grainger, had not benefitted from a generous refereeing decision to call a foul by a Workington player at a corner, coinciding with Bancroft dropping the ball into his own net.
Following this escape, Dennis Knight twice almost put the home side ahead. After 5 minutes, his powerful low drive was parried by Reds keeper Aaron Taylor, who was quick off his line soon after to clear Knight’s astute through ball to Dale Pearson. On 20 minutes, Jake Orrell’s cross from the right just evaded the on-rushing Knight who appeared to have a tap in at the back post. While it would be inaccurate to say Benfield were on top, as the majority of possession rested with the visitors, the home side were able to keep Workington at arm’s length and restrict the flow of chances, in marked contrast to the Whitley Bay debacle. This was partly due to the tireless graft in central midfield by the returning Alex Nisbet who performed an admirable job from the very first whistle. Reaching the break with a blank score line seemed a fair reflection of the balance of play.
Twice early in the second half, Knight’s vision created chances for The Lions. Firstly, he fed Jake Orrell on the edge of the box, but a posse of red-shirted defenders crowded him out. Secondly, he set Dale Pearson away down the left and the powerful striker lashed a low effort into the side netting. Then, the sucker punch that was always waiting; after an extended bout of pinball in the box, that saw several efforts half cleared from near the line, the ball finally fell to Niall Cowperthwaite to lash home from close range on 57 minutes. However, The Lions came back strongly after manager Convery made a triple substitution. Two of them, Dean Holmes and Paul Brayson, combined for Brayson to square the ball in the box for the on-rushing Pearson to lash a low shot home and give the majority of the 300 crowd a moment to savour. In the remaining 15 minutes, the only side who looked likely to win were Benfield, but time ran out and the score stayed 1-1.
Manager Mark Convery
Pleased with the performance I thought we dealt with them well and without us being at our best going forward think there is a lot more to come from us. In terms of tuesdays replay we will go there full of confidence and everybody will be up for it to get us into the next round