Newcastle Benfield 1 Penrith 1
Newcastle Benfield had to settle for a point on Saturday afternoon after a late sucker punch from Penrith meant the spoils were shared.
The Lions started on the front foot and indeed in the opening exchanges the hosts forced a number of corners but unfortunately nothing came of these set piece opportunities.
However, the early dominance was to be rewarded in the 10th minute when Benfield were to take the lead. There was good play from Mechack Kanda in the box and when the ball fell to James Novak, the cross was expertly converted by Paul Brayson.
Although both keepers were relatively untested after the opening goal, Benfield were looking solid and full value for the lead.
Aiden Haley was looking composed in the centre and linked up well with Brayson after 29 minutes but nothing came of the move. Cyril Giraud who has been in fine form recently was beginning to cause the Penrith back line headaches and late in the half fired an effort only inches wide of the target.
On the stroke of half time Brayson could have doubled the Lions lead but after finding himself in an excellent position the front man unfortunately fired high and wide before immediately looked at the pitch as the opportunity went begging.
The referee then brought a halt to first half proceedings and after being firmly in control, the management team would have been slightly disappointed that the Lions only had a one goal advantage in the bank.
Benfield continued to play on the front foot and started the second half positively. Good play between Joe Robson and Cyril Giraud was snuffed our by the visitors and Dan O’Reilly was also offering an excellent outlet down the right hand side.
Having dominated for almost an hour, there was a warning for Benfield in the 58th minute when Penrith had the ball in the back of the net but thankfully for the Lions, an offside flag was raised very early to rule the leveller out.
The Cumbrians were now starting to have a little more belief in what they were doing and whilst only trailing by one goal, would have felt there was something to take out of the game. Indeed, Andrew Grainger made a fine saving after 64 minutes from substitute Jonny Studholme.
In the 74th minute Benfield finally had the chance to make the points safe after the referee awarded a penalty following a foul on Lions captain Mark Turnbull. Unfortunately the lads were still not able to give themselves that extra breathing space as Paul Brayson’s penalty was saved low to Penrith keeper Luke Miller’s right.
The game was still delicately poised as we entered the last ten minutes as Andrew Grainger saved a Studholme poke and then Paul Brayson forced Miller into a fine save as he tried to forget about the earlier penalty save.
Disaster struck in the 86th minute as Penrith drew level. Grant Davidson was the visitors goal scorer but the effort did appear to be heavily deflected and left Grainger in the home goal pretty helpless.
Although Benfield continued to press, Penrith could have sneaked a winner themselves as the Lions tried to regain the lead. Unfortunately though, the Lions were unable to pierce the Cumbrians defence any further and when the referee blew his whistle shortly afterwards, the points were officially shared.
Although Penrith were much livelier in the second half, this definitely felt like two points dropped and left Lions supporters feeling rather despondent as they left and headed off along Benfield Road.
With Newcastle United under 23’s coming to Walkergate on Wednesday evening, another tough test is on the cards against the young St James’ Park professionals.