Stockton Town 4 Newcastle Benfield 0
Newcastle Benfield crashed to defeat on Saturday afternoon as Stockton Town ran out comfortable winners at The Coverall Stadium.
On an afternoon where all talk was around Storm Dennis, it was unfortunately Storm Stockton that accounted for the Lions as the hosts blew Stuart Elliott’s side away.
All other fixtures in the first division of the Ebac Northern League were off but thanks to the artificial surface, there was never any danger to the fixture although the wind certainly played a part in proceedings.
The Lions were to have lots of possession in the opening period and indeed started brightly with Lewis Scorgie firing wide in the early exchanges. However, Town were certainly offering their own threats with Kevin Hayes in particular at the heart of the hosts attacking play.
Andrew Grainger was dealing with any efforts coming his way relatively comfortably, including a fine save with his legs from Mikey Roberts.
However in the 25th minute, Stockton were to take the lead after good work down the right from Hayes and after his cross bounced up off Grainger and Franks, Woodhouse volleyed home from 8 yards out.
Benfield could have equalised immediately but unfortunately Aiden Haley dragged a fine opportunity wide.
Although the Lions played their part in the opening half, Stockton were good value for the half time lead and in the blustery conditions, could have been further in front, although the Anchors certainly realised they still had plenty of work to do, as did the majority of the 314 crowd.
The predicted strong winds were certainly more prominent as the second half began and there was no better evidence of this than when Andrew Grainger made a fine clearance as he punted the ball down field only for a gust to take it backwards and out for a corner.
On 62 minutes the hosts were to double their lead through Mikey Roberts after a passing move involving Portas, Robinson and McWilliams. It was McWilliams who found Roberts in the centre of the box with the number 10 finishing well with his left foot.
Benfield could have halved the deficit with 10 minutes to go after a defence splitting pass from Giraud set up Brayson but unfortunately the Benfield strikers effort slid past the post and harmlessly wide.
It was game set and match after 87 minutes as substitute James Risbrough made it 3 after a through ball by Hayes set Roberts away who then squared for Risbrough to calmly finish.
The icing was put on the cake for Stockton a minute later when captain Adam Nicholson headed home a Craggs corner unchallenged at the far post.
In the end Benfield can have no complaints about the result and it does only appear a matter of time before Stockton leave the Northern League as champions. Michael Dunwell has his team well organised with each player knowing their role and they certainly look after the ball well on a surface they are fully familiar with.
For Stuart Elliott and the Lions, there is a quick fire opportunity to bounce back as Sunderland RCA head to Sam Smith’s Park on Wednesday evening.
Match Report Kevin Larkham
Website/photos Steve Boyle