Newcastle Benfield 2 Sunderland Ryhope CW 2
Newcastle Benfield surrendered a two goal lead to Sunderland Ryhope CW as their indifferent home form of 2019/20 continued on Saturday afternoon. Although a number of teams have lost more times, this latest draw takes the Lions on to 7 for the season at home, 3 more than any other team.
Richie Slaughter came into the starting eleven for Reece Noble in the only change from Wednesdays draw against Newton Aycliffe.
Although nowhere near as bad as recent weeks, the teams entered the field with the usual Saturday wind picking up momentum as kick off approached.
Benfield started brightly attacking the golf course end, although experienced stopper James Winter was relatively untroubled in the opening exchanges apart from one or two stray passes by his defensive colleagues.
Brad Hird had a glorious chance to give CW the lead after the Benfield defence opened up in front of him but thankfully for the Lions, the opportunity was not taken.
The striker probably hoped the missed opportunity did not come back to haunt him, however, nobody could have realised how quickly the miss would be punished as Benfield went straight up the other end and took the lead.
Good build up play found Paul Brayson in space on the left side of the box and a perfect pass to Jack Cooper saw the youngster crash the Lions into the lead from the edge of the six yard box.
James Novak was next to go close after good work from Haley found Cooper who crossed for the defender to almost double the lead.
Benfield remained firmly in control but Hird was certainly causing problems for the Lions back line. However, neither keeper was being asked too many questions as the first half progressed towards the half hour mark. Ellis and Wallace were to have half chances for the visitors but Andrew Grainger remained in control.
Benfield took a firm grip on the contest in the 42nd minute as they doubled their advantage, although there was certainly good fortune in how the goal came about. Winter made a hash of a routine piece of work and found himself on the ground with no control of the ball, leaving Brayson who could not believe his luck, to walk the ball into the net to double the advantage.
The only remaining incident of the first half was a booking for Hodgson after a stray arm caught Jack Cooper.
Unfortunately for Benfield missed opportunities in the second period which would have surely put the game to bed came back to haunt them.
There were danger signs that the game was not over after Oliver Hotchkiss rattled the crossbar. This close shave left Ryhope believing that there was something in the game for them and sure enough ex Whitley Bay man Brad Hird was at the heart of proceedings as the frontman scored an excellent second half double to rescue a point. The first goal came in the 67th minute with the second coming 14 minutes later in the 81st minute to leave momentum firmly with the visitors. Ryhope were certainly vastly improved in the second half and will be pleased to have secured the point, although for Benfield there will be concerns that they could not see the victory out after being in such a commanding position.
The result sees Benfield sitting in 10th position in the first division table with a rather symmetrical record of played 30, won 10, drawn 10, lost 10, with 48 goals scored and 48 goals conceded.
There is no midweek fixture this week, next up is a trip to bottom placed Northallerton Town on Saturday, before a crucial league cup quarter final next Wednesday as Newton Aycliffe return to Sam Smith’s Park.
Report Kev Larkham. Website Steve Boyle