Hornets 2 Lions 1

Hebburn Town 2

Newcastle Benfield 1


Benfield travelled to South Tyneside for a league game against Hebburn Town. Having almost gone out of existence two years ago, Hebburn are a club reborn. Last season Benfield came here for an FA Vase tie and the palpable buzz around Victoria Road West was indicative of momentum building. On that occasion Benfield strolled home 3-1 with plenty to spare, but this evening we found ourselves up against the side leading Northern League Division 1 and so a tough game was envisaged. Three changes were evident from Saturday’s draw with Ashington; Dale Pearson was injured, meaning Dean Holmes started on the left. On the right, Josh Scott was only fit enough for the bench, so Rhys Evans pushed forward, and captain Mark Turnbull switched to right back, with Craig Scott returning in the centre ofdefence. 

The visitors dominated the early stages of the game and the hosts struggled to deal with Benfield’s intensity by sporting means. Veteran Paul Chow was lucky to only see yellow for a studs-up challenge. From the resulting free kick, The Lions took the lead through a fantastic Dennis Knight strike after a half-cleared ball was rolled into his path by the astute Rhys Evans.

It was a magnificent goal, but the balance of play soon switched to the other end as Hebburn’s combination of muscular tackling and flowing football wrested the initiative away from Benfield.

Eager to get themselves back into this game, Hebburn began to throw themselves forward an on the stroke of 20 minutes, Dibb-Fuller fizzed a ball narrowly wide of the upright. Their efforts were rewarded in the 23rd minute when the Benfield defence failed to close down Storey, allowing the ex-South Shields defender space to fire the ball past the unsighted Andrew Grainger. The table-toppers were now in the ascendancy and before long, the Hornets took the lead for the first time. After an excellent run from Michael Richardson, former Team Northumbria winger Dibb-Fuller found space at the back post to slot home on the half hour. Soon after, Benfield, initially deservedly ahead and now deservedly behind, had a great opportunity to grab an equaliser when Rhys Evans threaded a ball down the right to David Robinson. His venomous first-time effort was unfortunately into the side netting and so Hebburn went into the break leading 2-1. 

Not wanting to allow the visitors an avenue back into the game, Hebburn came out of the blocks in the second half quickly and in the 51st minute, Richardson had a shot bobble wide of the left-hand post. Storey, in search of his second goal of the game, should have done better in the 70th minute when he fired the ball well over the Benfield crossbar from 20 yards out. With time running out, Benfield had a glorious chance to come away with a point, only for substitute Scott McCarthy’s rising volley to clear the bar with keeper Jennison stranded. It was the last chance and Hebburn played keep ball to successfully run the clock down and gain 3 points they scarcely deserved.  

Match report Ian Cusack

Website/photos Steve Boyle

Match coverage Luke Vinton

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