Newcastle Benfield recovered from the early blow of a spectacular own goal by skipper Mark Turnbull to complete a stylish, comprehensive win over a Seaham Red Star side who fell to pieces in the second period and ought to have left Sam Smith’s Park on the end of a far more comprehensive defeat than the eventual 3-1 result.
Benfield fans have had the dubious pleasure of seeing some truly extraordinary own goals, such as Kenny Boyle’s 40-yard volley into his own net or Steven Tobin’s magnificent diving header past the despairing leap of Andy Grainger; Sparky’s effort wasn’t quite in that class, though he slid in and fired the bar right into the top corner of the net, giving Grainger absolutely no chance. The distinctly anti-Corinthian guffawing and braying, courtesy of a small section of Seaham’s somewhat ungracious support, was soon snuffed out by the award of a penalty for a clear push in the box on Paul Brayson. Dennis Knight stepped forward to confidently put The Lions back on level terms with a decisive finish from the 12-yard mark. However, there was soon danger for Benfield as Gardiner’s effort was deflected up and over a stranded Grainger, only for a covering Turnbull to make partial amends for his earlier blooper. In due course, Turnbull’s total redemption was achieved just before the half hour, when the skipper rose at the back post to arc a delightful header over John Mordey from Jake Orrell’s magnificent cross, giving the home side a lead, they never looked likely to relinquish. Indeed, Benfield could have gone in at the break with the game sewn up, if Knight’s beautifully weighted through ball had not been slid a yard the wrong side of the post by the normally deadly Brayson.
After the interval, the game continued on its course; a flowing, open contest, when defences were never truly at home against quality attackers. Though, as the clock ticked on, Seaham’s experienced front pairing of Michael Chilton and Adam Rundle became less and less involved. The real turning point that sealed the visitors’ fate was the dismissal of Darryl Donnelly for a crude body check on Dennis Knight in the area. Knight had just executed a delightful trap and turn in a single move when he was unceremoniously dumped to the floor. The penalty and red card were inevitable; the goal from Knight soon followed. From that point, the depleted visitors sought only damage limitation as Benfield endlessly carved them open. Brayson hit the side netting from a tight angle, before setting up sub Mackenzie Heaney (who produced another delightful cameo from the bench) with an audacious back heel.
Again and again the home side drove forward; a wickedly sliced clearance by a disorientated Seaham defender almost resulted in an own goal, before substitute Scott McCarthy accepted a quick Grainger throw and ran the whole length of the pitch, before Mordey denied him with his knees. Despite the endless waves of attacking invention, the Seaham goal avoided further mishap as Benfield elegantly secured their fifth successive win and ninth game unbeaten in all competitions.
Match report Ian Cusack
Action photos CJC photos