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Unlike their neighbours Ryhope CA, whose Meadow Park ground has proved to be a fruitful hunting ground for Newcastle Benfield in recent years, Ryhope CW has been a venue without pity for The Lions. Indeed, after a remarkable 11-1 home win over CW at Sam Smith’s in October 2016, Benfield have lost their 3 subsequent games against today’s opponents. Thankfully, this dismal run was arrested by a superb performance from front to back that brought a fully merited victory and only Benfield’s second success on the road this season. The other away victory, somewhat ironically, was achieved at Ryhope CA’s Meadow Park on the opening day of the season.
Benfield began the game strongly from the very start. Paul Brayson drove into the box in the opening minute, cutting the ball back for Dean Holmes whose effort was saved by the legs of home keeper Ball. Brayson was again involved on 10 minutes, lifting a chip over the advancing Ball, only for the ball to agonisingly drift over the top. Midway through the half, all of Benfield’s possession and constant threat in an attacking context were undone when Michael Rae’s clever flick set James Ellis free and he buried an effort from 12 yards.The goal may have been a surprise, but it had the effect of driving Ryhope forwards and knocking the wind out of Benfield’s sails. Andrew Grainger kept The Lions in the game, by twice producing excellent saves, one a full-length dive and the other an instinctive parry. The value of his efforts were underlined by Jake Orrell, who impressively steered home a loose ball that had deflected to him following a Paul Brayson effort, to restore parity. The equaliser gave Benfield a new sense of purpose and they ended the half well on top.
Three times in the opening period of the second half, Benfield were denied; firstly, Brayson’s lay-off allowed Dale Pearson to get in a shot. When a deflection took the pace off the ball, Orrell was a fraction away from getting his toe on it and helping it over the line. Dean Holmes then fired in a low cross that Ryhope’s Danni Lay almost sliced into his own net but managed to scramble away at the last second. Thirdly, Rhys Evans fed Pearson and his shot was again hacked away from the line. All this pressure took its toll on Ryhope’s discipline, as on the hour Brayson was unceremoniously chopped down near the dead ball line. Knight confidently sent the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards.
From the next attack, Benfield almost scored again. Brayson’s thumping effort struck the ball and Dean Holmes was poised to knock the rebound home when he was barged to the ground. Amazingly no foul was given, but it showed Ryhope to be a team out of control, as demonstrated by substitute Craig Ellison’s assault on Joe Robson that surprisingly was only punished with a yellow card. Another yellow card was shown to Ryhope captain Ben Riding after he swept Brayson’s legs from under him in the box. Again, Knight sent Ball the wrong way and the score became 3-1. Deep in injury time Andrew Grainger made a superb save from Lay’s long-range effort, only for the ball to fall to Shaw, who squeezed it in from a tight angle to give an unfair sheen to the final score.
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