For the second Saturday in a row, Newcastle Benfield faced opposition from Cumbrian, but instead of Penrith’s Bonny Blues, it was Workington’s Reds that the Lions lined up against. This was the second year in a row the two teams had been paired together in the FA Cup at Sam Smith’s Park, with visitors naming a certain Sam Smith as one of their substitutes. Since the two teams last met,
Workington have suffered relegation from the Premier Division of the Northern Premier League to the North West Division, where they stand at the summit of the table and which is still one step above where Benfield ply their trade.
However, in the first half especially, there was no discernible difference in the standards of play of the two sides and the final result cannot be described as a cup shock by anyone who saw the game. Make no mistake; Benfield were thoroughly deserved winners on the day.
The first chance of note saw Peter Glen-Ravenhill race on to a superb through ball by Cyril Giraud, but agonisingly for the energetic frontman, his shot rolled inches wide of James Atkinson’s goal with the Reds keeper beaten. Soon after, Matty Parker fired a loose ball at the back of the area into the side netting. Aiden Haley, who was once again imperious in the centre of midfield, thumped a loose ball against the base of the post from 25 yards with Atkinson a helpless onlooker.
He was far more involved on 28 minutes, when he was forced to palm away a Giraud thunderbolt, in order to claim it at the second attempt. On 37 minutes Atkinson tipped a Glen-Ravenhill effort round the post and Guilherme Balthazar’s effort from the resulting corner was blocked by a posse of concerned defenders.
Clearly Benfield ought to have been ahead at the break, but Workington rode their luck and came out fighting in the second half. The first few minutes saw a flurry of corners for the visitors and one almighty scramble in the box that saw Ritchie Slaughter and Mark Turnbull lead by example in repelling all the Reds threw at the Lions. In the baking heat, the game became rather becalmed, with only a flicked header by Turnbull from a Parker cross threatening the visitors’ goal.
However, the arrival of Dennis Knight for a weary Giraud saw the game turn decisively in Benfield’s favour. Firstly, he fed Glen-Ravenhill on the edge of the box, who saw his stinging low drive pushed round the post by Atkinson. In the aftermath of this period of sustained pressure, Paul Brayson collected the ball a dozen yards out, threw a dummy and fired at goal.
A Workington defender blocked the ball with his hands and a penalty was the inevitable result. Despite scoring from 12 yards against Seaham on the Wednesday previous, Brayson gave the ball to Knight, whose assured finish was matched only by the coolness of his celebration, which involved taking a long, slow drink from Atkinson’s water bottle as the helpless keeper stared defeat in the face. Soon the final whistle sounded to confirm Benfield’s progress to the next round.
Man of the Match:
Match report Ian Cusack
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Match Coverage Joe Petras
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