Newcastle Benfield v Newton Aycliffe
Newcastle Benfield had to settle for a second successive draw on Wednesday evening as a lively Newton Aycliffe side collected their first away draw of the season at a chilly Sam Smith’s Park.
Benfield made one change from the weekend trip to Guisborough Town with Brad Varga coming in for Matty Parker. Meanwhile Richie Slaughter was named amongst the substitutes after being unavailable on Saturday.
Although the opening 10 minutes were competitive, there were no serious opportunities for either side. The first real sight of goal came after 12 minutes when Adam Burnicle found himself in space but screwed his effort wide of Andrew Grainger’s post. An even better opportunity fell to Aycliffe only a matter of minutes later but the effort from Ardelean rattled a post and the danger was cleared.
Benfield were next to go close after a brilliant move started and finished by Dennis Knight. The Lions striker found Brayson out wide before the ball was returned to him but unfortunately the strike went over the bar. Paul Brayson and Jack Cooper were next to set up Knight but this time the effort went wide.
There was controversy after 20 minutes when Peter Glen-Ravenhill went in for a 50/50 ball with visiting keeper Adam Pickford, which unfortunately left the visiting custodian needing treatment. Benfield supporters clearly thought the ball was there to be won, meanwhile Aycliffe followers were demanding a red card. The referee produced a yellow card for the Benfield man which suited neither side in terms of how they saw the incident. However, the best outcome from the incident was that Pickford was able to continue and appeared to have no lasting problems.
The booking picked up by Jack Cooper shortly afterwards was certainly more clear cut after a late challenge in the middle of the park. However, Benfield were certainly on the receiving end too as the impressive Aiden Haley will be able to confirm after needing treatment on several occasions having been caught.
Aycliffe were certainly looking a threat going forward but Andrew Grainger was equal to everything coming his way, meanwhile Mark Turnbull was marshalling the back line superbly.
Benfield had another half chance after Brayson headed narrowly wide of the post after a Haley cross, however, the sides were to go in all square at the interval.
Richie Slaughter was introduced at the interval as he replaced Reece Noble in the Benfield engine room.
It was Newton Aycliffe who started the second half brightly and the Lions were thankful for some last ditch defending and fine saves from Grainger in the opening exchanges as our visitors laid siege to the Benfield goal. The pressure was relentless and the best chance of the lot came after 55 minutes when the woodwork was rattled in a huge goalmouth scramble and somehow the ball stayed out of the net.
The Lions looked to have survived the storm as they began to attack themselves but an effort from Jack Cooper was dragged wide and a subsequent corner went straight into Pickfords hands.
There were calls for a penalty in the 64th minute after Dennis Knight went tumbling in the area but the match officials were unmoved even though there did appear to be some contact from the Aycliffe defender.
The contest had settled down by the last 20 minutes with Aycliffe quite naturally not able to keep up their early second half tempo, although the men from County Durham were still looking threatening as they went for a winner.
Benfield made their second change with 17 minutes to go as Cyril Giraud replaced Brayson and the substitute was heavily involved 6 minutes later after being released by Haley to send in a great cross to Knight but unfortunately his header just looped over.
The introduction of Giraud had certainly lifted the home side with the youngster making some excellent runs down the right side but Aycliffe were able to deal with the new threat. Cooper was next to test the visitors back line from a free kick after a foul on Knight but Pickford was able to gather comfortably.
Unfortunately Benfield were unable to create any significant opportunities in the closing seconds and after a couple of minutes injury time the full time whistle went to signal the points were shared.
The sides meet again on 11th March in the league cup and based on tonight, this could be a very close affair in determining who progresses to the semi finals.
Looking more shorter term, Sunderland Ryhope CW are next up as Benfield look to complete a league double on Saturday. Kick off at Sam Smith’s Park is the usual 3pm.