Newcastle Benfield 1 West Auckland Town 1
There was nothing between Benfield and West Auckland in league standings beforehand and by full time, there was nothing between the two sides on the pitch.
The first real chance of the game fell to Amar Purewal after the ball found it’s way through to him on 4 minutes but it appeared the contact was more instinctive and the effort went wide of Andrew Grainger’s left hand post.
After that initial half chance, it was Benfield who were to take the lead in the 7th minute. Joe Robson played a delightful ball down the left channel to Cyril Giraud who forced a corner. Giraud took the corner himself and Mechack Kanda directed a lovely header past Flynn in the West Auckland goal.
The early goal lifted Benfield as West Auckland struggled to get a foothold in the contest after that. Giraud was next to go close with a header after an excellent cross from James Novak. After winning man of the match at Whickham in midweek, Giraud was clearly playing with increased confidence and after being fouled, Novak whistled the resulting free kick over the bar.
Most of the lions attacking threat was coming through Brayson, Giraud and Novak with Novak and Giraud having further opportunities to increase the lead.
However, West Auckland were to draw level after 31 minutes and this was slightly against the run of play at that point. Craig Spooner, a recent signing from Whitley Bay struck a fine volley past Andrew Grainger after finding himself in space in the Benfield area.
The leveller clearly lifted our visitors who were to enjoy their best spell of the half for the remaining 10 minutes. Thankfully Benfield held firm as the sides went in level at the interval.
West Auckland started the second half brightly with Anthony Bell testing Andrew Grainger early on with a delicate chip.
Bell was to go into the referees book shortly afterwards after a foul on Baltazar. The subsequent free kick from Richardson found Brayson who tried an exquisite chip but the ball just went over Flynn’s crossbar.
After Spooner wasted a free kick on the edge of the area and Mitchell shot wide, Benfield settled back into the contest and continued to threaten themselves.
There was major controversy in the 73rd minute after Paul Brayson was penalised for a foul just as Giraud was about to race clear towards goal. The challenge from the Benfield frontman looked legitimate but the referee disagreed and to compound the misery, Brayson was booked and sin binned.
The temporary suspension did not impact on the lions and indeed it was during this period that Baltazar had a fine effort on goal, which was deflected for a corner.
Peter Glen-Ravenhill was introduced with 9 minutes to go and immediately offered a threat down the right side. With seconds to go, Glen-Ravenhill was fouled but James Novak’s free kick was tipped over the bar by Tom Flynn.
There was to be no further chances as the referee brought the entertaining contest to an end. Over the full 90 minutes, a point apiece was just about the right result.
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