Northallerton Town 1 Newcastle Benfield 2
Newcastle Benfield moved up to 8th place in the Ebac Northern League First Division after securing a hard fought victory at Northallerton Town on Saturday afternoon.
With Stuart Elliott unavailable it was popular assistant Derek Forrest who led operations for the Lions. There was one change from the starting eleven against Sunderland Ryhope CW last time out as Reece Noble returned at the expense of Jack Cooper who dropped to the bench. Young Matty Parker was also named amongst the substitutes after missing out recently due to injury.
Having not conceded in their 3 home victories this season, it was clear that the first goal could be critical and after only 7 minutes, it was Benfield who made the dream start by scoring the opener. After good work from Glen-Ravenhill and then Richie Slaughter the ball fell to an unmarked Joe Robson who was able to poke the Lions into the lead from close range.
Northallerton were to have a lot of half chances throughout the afternoon, however it always felt like Andrew Grainger and the Lions defence were in control and not overly threatened. Defensively there are many teams higher in the table who have conceded more than the men from The Calvert Stadium but with a league low of 29 scored, it is clear the inability to convert the many half chances created has haunted Town in their return to the first division.
Benfield were to punish the hosts after 37 minutes with a second goal after Dennis Knight was clumsily bundled over in the area. After dusting himself down, Knight stepped up and fired the Lions into a 2-0 lead after Dawson in the home goal guessed the right way but could not prevent the ball hitting the back of the net.
Before the contest restarted there was a delay after referee Christopher Keightley spoke with both assistants. Unfortunately a previous issue had been aggravated and the man in the middle moved to assistant duties for the remainder of the half.
There was real danger that the match could have been in jeopardy at the interval as it was clear the switch to assistant duties by the match referee, was only to allow the first half to complete. However, after a brief search, Benfield committee stalwart Allan Young came to the rescue and ran the line for the second 45 minutes. Thankfully there were no controversial moments for the veteran and all in the 129 crowd were grateful for the 70 year old stepping forward and for throwing on a black kit and a pair of boots.
There were to be nervous moments late on for Benfield after Connor Dunlavey pulled a goal back with 16 minutes to go. There did not appear to be a lot of danger when the Town man put the ball into the box from the right side of Benfields area, however, with the wind and path of the ball, Andrew Grainger was left flat footed as Town finally made one of their chances count.
Thankfully there was no significant fight back after the goal and with young Cyril Giraud now on the pitch, Benfield were stretching Northallerton as they looked for another goal themselves.
In stoppage time Grainger made an excellent point blank save from Dan Jones to keep the narrow Benfield lead intact. Moments later the full time whistle went and Benfields fine recent away record continued as league win number 7 on the road was secured.
Next up for the lads is the league cup clash against Newton Aycliffe at Sam Smith’s Park this coming Wednesday (7-30), with a semi-final spot up for grabs.