The week began with glorious, unseasonal sunshine and unprecedented high temperatures for February, before turning back to gloomy, damp conditions more typical for the time of year, with the promise of Storm Freya’s arrival sometime on Sunday. Saturday itself was a combination of all the week’s weather in one day; a gloriously sunny opening that promised much, before a squally and unpleasant mid-section dampened proceedings before a late flurry of positivity ended things on an upbeat note. Somewhat fittingly, Newcastle Benfield versus Guisborough Town acceded to the same structure as the climactic frame of the day.
Benfield, on the back of successive away wins against Ashington and North Shields, began in the same positive manner that has harvested such good results of late. In the second minute, Jake Orrell’s snapshot reared up and hit bemused visiting keeper Jordan Nixon flush in the face. However, the opposition captain showed incredible reactions to recover immediately and miraculously turn Dale Pearson’s point-blank attempt round the post. Nixon denied the same player from the resulting corner, tipping a speculative effort over the top. From the next corner Pearson fed Orrell, whose effort beat Nixon but was hacked desperately off the line. A minute later, Paul Brayson’s low effort was deflected into the side netting. Nixon matched his earlier heroics on 20 minutes, when he raced from his line to stand tall and block an effort from the advancing Brayson.
For the first 30 minutes, Benfield were absolutely torturing Guisborough, but the Priorymen held on grimly and even had their own first effort on goal, as Mason McNeill’s shot from distance whistled a foot too high while the sky began to bruise, and broiling clouds darkened the day. Play similarly deteriorated, as a fussy referee intervened with unnecessary regularity to insist on free kicks instead of advantage as a matter of choice. Just when Guisborough must have felt it had been a job well done, Benfield took the lead from the scruffiest goal of the season. Dean Holmes collected a long pass with eye-catching fluency then fired in an effort on goal. Nixon’s block ricocheted insanely before apologetically bobbling home off the unfortunate Matthew Lovatt in the last minute of the half.
After a half time made memorable by the presence of Brie and absence of soup from the buffet, the game continued in the scruffy fashion of the latter part of the opening half. Even so it was a tremendous shock when Danny Earl’s precise finish from a free kick floated into the box and nodded down by the towering Lovatt brought the visitors level. As the clouds passed over, a fascinating contest emerged between the muscular, committed visitors and the close passing game of The Lions. Both sides looked dangerous in different ways, though the majority of chances went the way of Benfield. Pearson fed Brayson who screwed an effort just wide, while Andy Grainger raced heroically from his line to head away a long kick from Nixon, before instinctively blocking an Earl effort on the break.
This was to prove crucial as soon after a great ball out of defence by Mark Turnbull set Dale Pearson free down the left. His cross for Paul Brayson was pinpoint accurate as the veteran frontman showed exquisite footwork to throw the entire Guisborough defence a dummy before stroking the ball home to claim another home win for The Lions.