Newcastle Benfield ended last season’s home campaign with a defeat to Consett and began the 2019/2020 campaign in a similar fashion when the Steelmen took all 3 points, in a slightly fortuitous fashion, on a night when Benfield displayed far greater fluency and attacking threat than in their opening day draw at Whitley Bay.
Despite the disappointing outcome, there were many positives that manager Stu Elliott and his coaching team can take from this game.
The Lions began strongly, with home debutant Peter Glen-Ravenhill almost putting the home side in front, when hitting the side netting from a tight angle. Pressure continued to be applied on the away goal, with four successive corners requiring steadfast defending and a couple of Dennis Knight rangefinders just whistling over the top.
It was therefore something of a surprise when the away team took the lead with something of a soft goal. A near post corner was headed in by an unchallenged Purewal, whose instinctive movement eluded the Benfield defence.
In response, Benfield began to show more incisive attacking ability, especially when Glen-Ravenhill took a slightly wider role on the right. One of his crosses was headed powerfully down by Mechack Kanda, only for Kyle Hayes to instinctively block with his legs. Jordan Laidler was controlling the game from central midfield, spraying an array of probing and accurate long and short passes, unlocking the Consett rearguard. One such pass set Knight away and his low cross from the left was scooped over by Glen-Ravenhill from close in. Just as the first half was drawing to a close, the equaliser came. Glen-Ravenhill combined with Matty Parker on the right and the young full back’s cross was palmed into the path of Knight, who made no mistake from 10 yards, giving the scoreline a more balanced view at the interval.
Unfortunately, all that good work was undone with a fluke of a goal 5 minutes after the break. The impressive Holden wildly shanked an attempted shot, only for the ball to sit up perfectly for Ardelean to head it past a wrongfooted Andy Grainger. Knight almost equalised immediately with a tremendous shot on the turn that Hayes palmed away at full stretch. All the home side’s efforts seemed to be in vain when an expertly crafted passing move by the visitors saw Jermaine Metz accept a pass and shoot accurately home. It was play of the standard expected by one of the sides heavily tipped to feature in the promotion frame come next May.
A late flourish for the home side saw newly-signed Frenchman Cyril Giraud on as a substitute, showing glimpses of the pace and vision he has demonstrated in pre-season. However, the consolation late goal was constructed by the old campaigner Richie Slaughter who instinctively played a short free kick to Glen-Ravenhill, who shrugged off a challenge and finished with aplomb from the left-side of the area. Sadly this was too late to alter the outcome, but it was no disgrace to lose such a competitive game against polished opponents.
Man of the Match:
Match report Ian Cusack
Coverage/website Steve Boyle
Next game Away 👇