Newcastle Benfield made the trip up to Consett for their first Group D fixture in the revamped Brooks Mileson League Cup, where Bedlington Terriers, Brandon United and Thornaby will provide the other opposition. The top 2 sides from 8 groups provide the last 16. Manager Stuart Elliott, aware of the complexities in this new format, rang the changes after Saturday’s disappointing defeat in the FA Cup and with one eye on the weekend fixture at Ashington. Starting berths were handed to Jake Turnbull, Ben Richardson, Kurtis Russell and Dennis Knight.
After a wonderfully observed minutes applause for Jimmy Rowe, the match began as the Derwentside temperature began to drop. The opening quarter comprised a passage of play, whereby the sides contested proceedings in the midfield area with neither Andrew Grainger nor Kyle Hayes having much to deal with. Ex Benfield man Dale Pearson was keen to impress against his former club, but his first effort sailed over the bar. As the first half progressed, Consett began to build momentum without unduly testing Grainger with the back four of Novak, Turnbull (M), Kanda and Turnbull (J) standing firm. Although there was a major let off for the Lions as Pearson hit a post as he continued to try and impress. There was controversy in the 34th minute as a firm challenge from Kanda on Pearson left our hosts convinced there had been an infringement and that a penalty would be awarded but the officials were unmoved, and a goal kick was the outcome. Kyle Hayes was called into action after a snapshot from Knight but saved the chance without being troubled. Consett continued to press as the half came to a close but Benfield remained resolute in their defending, meaning that the score at half time was Consett 0 Newcastle Benfield 0.
The second half began in much the same manner as the first half with most of the activity in the contested in central areas. Just under the hour mark, Benfield made a change with Parker replacing Jake Turnbull. Benfield were now offering more of a threat going forward with Knight and Turnbull having good opportunities. This bright play was rewarded after 61 minutes when a miskick from Baltazar fell perfectly for Glen-Ravenhill who stroked the Lions into the lead and in the process continued his own rich vein of form with his third goal in two games.
Consett continued to press as they searched for an equaliser and the 71st minute this came after a soft free kick was given away in a central position. Inevitably it was Dale Pearson who struck a brilliant effort past a despairing Grainger. The rain started to fall as we entered the last quarter hour with both sides sensing an opening day victory in the Cup was well within their grasp. With 10 minutes to go, Cyril Giraud replaced Baltazar as the tempo from both sides increased. Sadly, on 84 minutes Benfield fell behind as Pearson bagged his second with a fine effort across Grainger. There would be no way back as Consett scored a third in stoppage time after a swift break was finished by Alshabeeb, meaning the final score was Consett 3 Newcastle Benfield 1.
MOM Meesha Kandu