On a baking hot Saturday afternoon in Flaming June, I’ll somnolently set aside a crisp, continental beer and tear my attention away from the mellifluous sounds on leather on willow as my beloved Tynemouth build another impregnable total in the North East Premier League and sigh, because I miss football so much. Then I’ll remember this game.
Back in August Benfield visited Stockton Town in an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round replay and tore them to ribbons, winning 3-0 with a slick display of fast, incisive football that augured so well for the season. However, like most of the early promise of this campaign, it was illusory and a fortnight later the Anchors had their revenge with an untroubled 2-0 win at Sam Smith’s in a league game. After Saturday’s bizarre loss to Whickham, the outcome of this one seemed unpredictable. In the end, it was a depressing re-enactment of last season’s equally sobering thumping, as another 4-0 defeat was all we had to show for a trip down and back up the A19. Fair play to Stockton, they were hungrier and more incisive from the off. In fact, it took 31 minutes for Benfield to muster their first serious effort on goal, when Rhys Evans sent a thunderous 25 yard strike a shade over the bar. This was an encouraging sight, not least because we were already 2-0 down by that point.
The opening goal came after 5 minutes and was the first serious goal attempt of the game. A near interchange of passes between Roberts and Hayes left the former in on goal and he calmly placed the ball under the advancing Dan Nimmons, who was enjoying a rare start in goal to gain some game time before the League Cup semi final against Whitley Bay, when Andrew Grainger will be unavailable. Neither the floodgates opened nor a plucky rearguard kicked into action, as the game passed in low-intensity, aimless passing forwards and backwards, with no real attempt at penetration from either side, until Roberts doubled his and Stockton’s tally with a glorious header from a Craggs cross that was disturbingly similar to Andrew Bulford’s second goal for Whickham on Saturday previous. Benfield did then enjoy more possession but offered no real threat other than the Evans effort.
The second half started with a flurry of home attacks, but little came of it and the game settled into a half-paced, exhibition of short passing that was pleasing on the eye, until the whole edifice came tumbling down with an overhit pass, a misdirected cross or a shanked shot. Rhys Evans again came very close to getting on the score sheet, rifling an exact replica of his first half effort again just too high. Then the referee made the unjust and ridiculously harsh decision to send Reece Noble off for an innocuous trip in the centre circle on 70 minutes; a yellow card certainly, but never a red and enough to persuade the away side to hoist the white flag. Almost immediately, Fred Woodhouse’s misdirected shot cannoned off a wrongfooted James Novak and put the Anchors 3-0 ahead, before Hayes completed the scoring with a venomous low drive from the edge of the area that gave poor Nimmins not an earthly. Thankfully, the whistle soon blew, and the evening could be immediately forgotten about.
Man of the Match
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Website Steve Boyle
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