Newcastle Benfield 2 Whitley Bay 1
Newcastle Benfield secured a hard fought victory over Whitley Bay on Saturday afternoon and in the process, consolidated their position in the top ten of the Ebac Northern League first division.
Stuart Elliott gave a debut to new signing Jack Cooper, who can count Whitley Bay as a former club. The Seahorses included recent signing Andy Jennison but had to do without former Lion James Martin who was suspended.
The Lions were to make a dream start after ten minutes when they took the lead. Paul Brayson found himself in space and lobbed Jennison from a full 35 yards out. The effort was so spectacular that it actually took the crowd a good few moments after the ball hit the net to realise the goal had actually been scored. After his excellent free kick at Consett last Saturday, the Benfield number 9 is certainly in fine goal scoring form at the moment.
Whitley were to have good spells of possession as the half progressed but Andrew Grainger was not overly tested. Marcus Giles fired an effort over the bar in one of our visitors better openings. Whitley were also looking defensively strong and Jennison in the visitors goal was completing routine duties only as the half progressed.
Jack Cooper was seeing plenty of the ball as he began getting used to his new colleagues and was certainly integrating well in a Lions shirt.
After 35 minutes the lads doubled their lead and it was that man Brayson again. After clever moment, the striker made himself that little extra space as the ball came into the area and had plenty of time to poke his effort past Jennison.
At 2-0, the score line was probably harsh on the Seahorses but in a half of few clear cut openings, Benfield had simply taken their chances. However, three minutes before the interval the men from the Coast were given a lifeline and halved the deficit. With no danger around, a ball was carelessly played across our own box and Marcus Giles could not believe his luck as he fired a fine effort past a despairing Andrew Grainger.
Whitley Bay were to dominate possession in the second half but Andrew Grainger really didn’t have that much to do. For the Lions, an outstretched Peter Glen-Ravenhill almost made contact for a third but the chance was smothered and Brayson had the ball in the net again via a wicked deflection but an offside flag ruled out the effort.
Jack Cooper was to have a premature end to his afternoon after taking a ball smack bang in his face but the ex Ryton man can be satisfied with his first run out for the Lions and thankfully after lengthy treatment, the new recruit walked off the field.
There was major controversy late on when Reece Noble received a straight red card. The Benfield man has been on the wrong end of some harsh decisions when it comes to red cards and today could definitely fall into that category. The challenge was certainly firm but it appeared the connection of shin pads made the coming together sound worse than it actually was. Whitley Bay players immediately surrounded the referee and after a brief discussion between the official and the Benfield man, the red card was brandished. In post match discussions between those present, it was suggested yellow would have been a more suitable punishment. However, it is difficult to be critical of the match officials, who have to make a split second decision whilst people all around raise their voices to tell them what decision to make.
Thankfully, the man disadvantage did not change the outcome of the match and Benfield were able to see out the remainder of the contest relatively unscathed and reflect on a very welcome three points.
After his two goals and fine overall performance, Paul Brayson was named man of the match for Benfield.
Match Report Kevin Larkham website Steve Boyle