Newcastle Benfield Manager Stuart Elliott’s Seasons Review

After finishing last season on the high of the league cup final, the close season has seen some changes to the playing staff. Obviously losing four important players to Blyth was a blow for the club. It was also a fantastic opportunity for those players to test themselves at a higher level, and a reward for the performances they had put in at Benfield.

Several of last season’s squad have trained together over the break, to keep up fitness levels, and probably because they miss each other and the team spirit.

Pre season started well and saw the introduction of Derek Forrest as coach and Lee Fairley to work on the physical aspect of training.

Both of these people have been a huge benefit to myself and the players alike. The friendly games we have played in have seen some very good performances. It has also been interesting to see how the new players have fitted in so easily and quickly with the players that were already here. Looking forward, I think it is really important to organise these games as early as possible, so that we get the right games for the players, in terms of having a bigger test with each game.

It is also a hectic period as several players and staff have been away on family holidays, or have had work commitments, which meant that not everyone was always available, or got what they needed in terms of training or games. But this is the same for all teams at this level of football.

As the season started we were really looking to get off to a good start. Going away to Whitley Bay in the first game was a tough start, and coming back from a goal behind shows great character and determination. The game against Consett was disappointing from a result point of view, but also in our energy levels. Being so early in the season it is sometimes hard to find that tempo straight away, and constantly.

Knaresborough was a chance to test ourselves against a team from another league in the FA Cup. The support that we took with us was great and gave the lads a real boost, with their encouragement and cheering every time we took a shot or made a challenge. This is something that can really help, especially when playing away from home. So thank you to those supporters and we hope to see you do this again throughout the season.

The conditions and pitch really suited the way we were hoping to play, added to this, our attitude to work and press the ball, our quality in possession and being clinical in front of goal, made it a great day out all round and a great bus back with a few beers.

That was the start of a great week and onto West Auckland. We started the game well again and full of confidence, but not arrogance. West are a top side who will be at the right end of the league this season, so to get three points there was a huge result for us. The game was fast paced and had a bit of everything in it; goals, challenges, good play etc.

Onto our third away game of the week at Penrith. Again this is another side that teams will come unstuck against, with their never say die attitude to pressure the ball and their goal threats in and around the box. This was another great three points and added another goal scorer to our list. Not our best passing performance to date, but one which showed real character and desire when defending in and around our box.

With three victories back to back we are hoping to continue this run with our coming games. But there is never an easy game in the Northern League and any complacency will be severely punished by any opponent we play. We also have another round of the FA Cup to look forward to with Workington. This will be a huge test for us as they are another very strong side from the league above, but one we look forward to.

Thank you to all the players for their attitude, effort and quality so far. Thank you also to every fan that has turned up this season and for the support you have given the team.

It is the start of a very long season and will see many twists and turns. Hopefully we can enjoy some of the good times. But one thing is for sure, we will be doing it as a team. That added to all that is going on behind the scenes at the club to keep it moving forward, we are in a positive place.

Lastly both the coaching and playing staff would like to wish our chairman Jimmy Rowe a speedy recovery, and hope to see him back at the ground very soon.


Newcastle Benfield v Seaham Red Star Northern League Division 1 – Match Report

After a trio of away day victories, confidence, though not complacency, was running high in the Newcastle Benfield camp ahead of the visit of Seaham Red Star. The visitors, including former Benfield players David Henderson, David Robinson and the legendary goal machine Michael Chilton, seemed fired up for this encounter and for the first 25 minutes, the Star utilised the strong breeze at their backs, not to mention a distinct height advantage, to push Benfield back into their own box.

As early as the seventh minute, the Lions were lucky not to fall behind as a wind assisted cross was helped on by Chilton, only for Mark Turnbull to scoop it away with Andy Grainger beaten. The visitors did score on 15 minutes, when former Lion Robinson astutely took the ball down on his chest and flicked it adroitly over the advancing Grainger.

It was no less than they deserved and for the next 20 minutes, Benfield struggle to impose themselves on the game. The tempo changed just after the half hour when Peter Glen-Ravenhill and Paul Brayson were both unlucky to see efforts fly just over and a fraction wide, but the crucial equaliser did come when Matty Parker’s sumptuous cross from the left was insouciantly glanced home by Captain Turnbull, send the sides in level at the break.

I would have thought many if not most in the decent crowd of 160 would have taken a draw at the interval, but none of us could have predicted the utter change in fortunes that were in store. Clearly, the turning point was the dismissal of Seaham keeper Chris Bannon after 54 minutes. A Seaham attack broke down and Paul Brayson executed a glorious dummy in his own half, wrong footing the entire Seaham defence, before sending Glen-Ravenhill away with a through ball. Bannon advanced from his area and attempted to clear, but the ball struck the Benfield attacker who bore down on goal, only to be pushed over when about to tap into an empty net. The penalty award was a certainty and I felt the sending off was too. Paul Brayson has shown little sentiment in his 25 year football career and he sent the replacement keeper the wrong way from 12 yards.

This lead provided a crucial advantage for Benfield and on the hour the game was effectively won when

Cyril Giraud, showing classic Gallic flair, bent a powerful shot into the top corner. Sadly, Seaham then began to lose their discipline, though the fine football of the home team allowed them to skip past many of the lunges and swipes essayed by an angry away side. On 73 minutes, it was 4-1, when Aiden Haley’s delightful low cross was turned in at the back post by Glen-Ravenhill. Things then became immeasurably worse for Seaham when

Dennis Knight entered the fray. Another Red Star attack was closed down and Benfield broke, with Brayson crossing for the onrushing Knight to blast the ball home. The last goal was all his own work; on the left side of the area, he shrugged off a challenge and rifled the ball home for a final score of 6-1, after as emphatic and dominant a second half I can ever remember us producing.

Match report Ian Cusack

Website Photos Steve Boyle

Next Game at Home

Saturday 24th August 2019

Match Report – Penrith v Newcastle Benfield – Northern League Division 1

Heavy traffic on the M6 Southbound following an incident involving an overturned caravan resulted in a late arrival at Penrith’s Frenchfield Park for the visitors. Thankfully the 3.15 kick off did not seem to have put Benfield out of their stride, as within 90 seconds Paul Brayson had almost opened the scoring, swivelling on the ball, sidestepping a defender and hammering an instinctive shot inches over the ball. Last season Penrith’s talisman and so often the Lions’ nemesis, Martyn Coleman opened the scoring after 8 seconds, but subsequently failed to get another kick as Mark Turnbull’s titanic performance at the heart of defence was crucial in setting a platform for a superb 4-1 comeback win. Today Benfield were without Sparky and so Ritchie Slaughter came in as both centre back and team captain; not only that, but he turned in a performance almost as good as Turnbull’s masterclass last time around.


The home side’s sole tactic in the first period, with a blustery wind at their backs, was to launch the ball upfield as quickly as possible in the general direction of Coleman. Unfortunately for them, assured defensive work by Slaughter alongside Brad Varga and James Novak denied the Penrith target man any significant opportunities in the opening 30 minutes, other than a half chance that was bravely shuffled round the post by Andy Grainger. Come the half hour, Penrith’s more direct approach was beginning to put Benfield off their passing game as Coleman bustled his way into the box and shaved the outside of the post. Soon after, the game changed decisively when, almost out of nowhere and possibly against the run of play, Benfield hit the home side with a rapid brace of goals.

Firstly, on 37 minutes, Peter Glen-Ravenhill’s deep cross from the right eluded everyone apart from the on-rushing Matty Parker, who touched the ball into the roof of the net from beyond the back post.

On 42 minutes, Aiden Haley notched his goal for Benfield; unmarked and unchallenged 25 yards from goal, he took aim and fired a rocket into the roof of the net that left home keeper Lewis Casson grasping air.


Early in the second period, it was almost 3 when Cyril Giraud’s weaving run caused panic in the home defence, but when the ball ran loose to Parker, his low effort was clutched by Casson. For large parts of the second period, Benfield kept hold of the ball, exchanging short passes and looking for opportunities a dogged home defence denied them. At the other end, Coleman continued his one-man assault, twice being denied by Andy Grainger in quick succession. The Benfield task was made more difficult when James Novak limped out of action, to be replaced by the free running Kurtis Russell who sent one thunderbolt a shade too high but was not able to contribute defensively. Thankfully, the rest of the Lions stepped up to the mark, especially Guilherme Balthazar, who denied Bobby Atkinson with an acrobatic clearance off the line. The away performance was more functional than fluent, but it was enough to claim the win, despite a last-minute aberration by Andy Grainger. Substitute Max Brown took the ball off the experienced stopper’s toe as he dawdled on the edge of the box, then slammed it into an empty net. Thankfully, all it cost was a clean sheet as the final whistle sounded soon after.


Man of the Match: 

Guilherme Balthazar

 Match Report Ian Cusack

Footage/website Steve Boyle

West Auckland Town 2 Newcastle Benfield 3 Ebac Northern League Division 1

Buoyed up by Saturday’s excellent victory at Knaresborough Town in the FA Cup, Newcastle Benfield claimed their first Northern League win of the season with a mainly superb performance away to West Auckland Town. Somewhat perversely, though perhaps predictable enough in the eyes of seasoned Benfield watchers, The Lions weakest part of the game was in the final 15 minutes when, with a handy 3-1 lead to fall back on and the home side reduced to 10 after the dismissal of substitute David Dowson for foul and abusive language, all of the previous good work was almost undone by a combination of panic, fatigue and poor decision making. Thankfully, West only managed a consolation when Amar Purewal bundled home his second after an extended bout of pinball in the six yard box after a left-wing corner.


Benfield’s plans were thrown into disarray in the warm up when Jake Turnbull pulled up with a leg injury and had to be replaced by Guilherme Balthazar. It did not put the Lions off their game as Cyril Giraud, who was to play a dominant role throughout the contest, set Paul Brayson free in the third minute, only for keeper Tom Flynn to make a smart block. Flynn was helpless after 7 minutes when the visitors went ahead; Balthazar’s astute Crossfield pass fell perfectly for Matty Parker, allowing the young striker to curl a delicious low, curling shot into the bottom corner. A superb, eye-catching goal and a worthy reward for Benfield’s positive start. The tempo was not sustained and Benfield were content to hold West at arm’s length for most of the half, with the other major talking point being right at the end of the half, which saw Peter Glen-Ravenhill racing through on goal with defenders trailing in his wake, only for the all-action forward to lose all composure and blaze the ball miles over the bar.


The second period saw 30 minutes of total dominance by Benfield, with Giraud at the heart of everything that was good about the visitors’ play. Having already broken through the West defence, only to see his pass to Glen-Ravenhill desperately hacked away, Cyril made a more tangible impression by accepting a pass after some excellent work on the right by Glen-Ravenhill, then slotting the ball home via a slight deflection that baffled Flynn. In the seconds after, Glen-Ravenhill sidefooted an effort wide and Brayson stung Flynn’s palms following Giraud passes, before substitute Purewal, looking suspiciously offside, ran onto a loose ball and toe-punted it past the advancing Grainger. There was no need to panic; Giraud skated through the West rearguard and effortlessly curled one into the top corner to restore a two-goal lead.

The result seemed beyond question when Dowson saw red moments later. However, there was the late West rally to endure; Purewal was first denied by a brilliant Grainger save from a downward header, then dispossessed by Novak when ready to pull the trigger, before his second goal. Thankfully, for Benfield fans, time was soon up and a good night on the road had been properly rewarded.

Match Report Ian Cusack

Website/Footage Steve Boyle


L’Homme du Jeu: 

Cyril Giraud



Match report FACup

On a day of incessant downpours, Newcastle Benfield enjoyed the warmest of welcomes at Knaresborough Town’s delightful Manse Lane ground and produced their most scintillating performance in some while, cruising to a 3-0 win that could, and perhaps should, have matched the incredible 1-10 scoreline between nearby Harrogate Railway and fellow Northern League D1 outfit, Whickham. Following Wednesday’s harsh 3-2 home loss to Consett, manager Stu Elliott rang the changes with 5 players coming into the starting eleven for this game. Bearing in mind how events panned out, it was an astute move with Paul Brayson and Ritchie Slaughter delivering the goals, Cyril Giraud absolutely bamboozling the Knaresborough defence all afternoon and Aiden Haley turning in a dominant performance in the centre of midfield that made him Man of the Match.


Roared on by a travelling support that comprised almost half of the 165 present for this game, Benfield began the game right on the front foot. After 5 minutes, the tireless Peter Glen-Ravenhill ran onto a through ball from Matty Parker, but a semi-slip on the sodden turf checked his momentum and by the time he had righted himself, home keeper Sam Lee had spread himself to save with his feet. Soon after, the eternally youthful Brayson tested Lee from a tight angle and the keeper did well to push it behind for the first of 4 successive corners, ended by a Ritchie Slaughter header over the top.


Knaresborough threatened for the first time on 18 minutes, when Andy Grainger comfortably dealt with a low shot by Andy Cooper.  Back roared Benfield, with Glen-Ravenhill racing through a static defence and clipping the ball just wide of the post with Lee beaten. A minute later the same player really ought to have scored, scuffing a delicious low cross from Jake Turnbull that had been elegantly dummied by Brayson, into the keeper’s grateful arms. Benfield were almost made to pay when Brad Walker’s shot was palmed away by Grainger, only for it to fall for the opposition number 9 Luke Harrop, who slammed the ball against the inside of the post from 10 yards with the goal gaping. 


On 28 minutes Brayson stooped to head an Aiden Haley cross just wide, which signalled a period of scrappy, ineffective play from both sides. Then, on 40 minutes, the breakthrough came; Giraud fed Glen-Ravenhill, who squared for an on-rushing Brayson to bury the chance with aplomb to give the visitors a lead they never looked like relinquishing.


The second period was played in driving rain so intense that it was impossible to take notes. For the first 15 minutes, Knaresbrough lifted their game and pushed the Lions back, but faultless handling by Grainger and typically steadfast work by Mark Turnbull and Brad Varga kept the Yorkshire hosts at bay. Soon tiredness became a factor and the Knaresborough defence struggled to contain a vibrant Benfield side. The game was effectively decided on 74 minutes when Brayson effortlessly curled a delicious bending shot into the far corner. The scoring was completed on 87 minutes when substitute Dennis Knight showed brilliant ball-juggling skills by the touchline, before sending an inviting cross over for Ritchie Slaughter to gleefully rifle home, equalling his goal tally for last season in the process. Soon, the whistle blew and the drenched Benfield heroes were loudly and enthusiastically cheered to the dressing room by raucous, delighted followers of Newcastle’s best non-league side.


Man of the Match: 

Aiden Haley

 Match Report Ian Cusack

Photos Paul Mcfeeley

Newcastle Benfield v Consett AFC. Northern League Division 1 Non League football

Newcastle Benfield ended last season’s home campaign with a defeat to Consett and began the 2019/2020 campaign in a similar fashion when the Steelmen took all 3 points, in a slightly fortuitous fashion, on a night when Benfield displayed far greater fluency and attacking threat than in their opening day draw at Whitley Bay.

Despite the disappointing outcome, there were many positives that manager Stu Elliott and his coaching team can take from this game.

The Lions began strongly, with home debutant Peter Glen-Ravenhill almost putting the home side in front, when hitting the side netting from a tight angle. Pressure continued to be applied on the away goal, with four successive corners requiring steadfast defending and a couple of Dennis Knight rangefinders just whistling over the top.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the away team took the lead with something of a soft goal. A near post corner was headed in by an unchallenged Purewal, whose instinctive movement eluded the Benfield defence.

In response, Benfield began to show more incisive attacking ability, especially when Glen-Ravenhill took a slightly wider role on the right. One of his crosses was headed powerfully down by Mechack Kanda, only for Kyle Hayes to instinctively block with his legs. Jordan Laidler was controlling the game from central midfield, spraying an array of probing and accurate long and short passes, unlocking the Consett rearguard. One such pass set Knight away and his low cross from the left was scooped over by Glen-Ravenhill from close in. Just as the first half was drawing to a close, the equaliser came. Glen-Ravenhill combined with Matty Parker on the right and the young full back’s cross was palmed into the path of Knight, who made no mistake from 10 yards, giving the scoreline a more balanced view at the interval.

Unfortunately, all that good work was undone with a fluke of a goal 5 minutes after the break. The impressive Holden wildly shanked an attempted shot, only for the ball to sit up perfectly for Ardelean to head it past a wrongfooted Andy Grainger. Knight almost equalised immediately with a tremendous shot on the turn that Hayes palmed away at full stretch.  All the home side’s efforts seemed to be in vain when an expertly crafted passing move by the visitors saw Jermaine Metz accept a pass and shoot accurately home. It was play of the standard expected by one of the sides heavily tipped to feature in the promotion frame come next May.

A late flourish for the home side saw newly-signed Frenchman Cyril Giraud on as a substitute, showing glimpses of the pace and vision he has demonstrated in pre-season. However, the consolation late goal was constructed by the old campaigner Richie Slaughter who instinctively played a short free kick to Glen-Ravenhill, who shrugged off a challenge and finished with aplomb from the left-side of the area. Sadly this was too late to alter the outcome, but it was no disgrace to lose such a competitive game against polished opponents.

Man of the Match:

Jordan Laidler

Match report Ian Cusack

Coverage/website Steve Boyle

Next game Away 👇

Newcastle Benfield Match report Ebac Northern League Away Fixture to Whitley Bay Saturday 3rd August 2019

Newcastle Benfield kicked off the 2019/2020 campaign with a valuable point in a 1-1 draw with local rivals Whitley Bay. With both manager Stu Elliott and player assistant boss Paul Brayson both away on holiday, as well injury denying the Lions the services of Dean Holmes, Reece Noble and long-term absentee Lewis Scorgie, not to mention work commitments preventing Richie Slaughter from turning out, this was very much a mix and match side. Four new signings started the game for Benfield; Guilherme “G” Balthazar, Peter Glen-Ravenhill, back at his former club for his debut, Ben Richardson and Mechack Kanda, beginning his second spell with the Lions. 


The game itself was a slow burner; the initial exchanges were predictably cagey, with two vastly altered sides attempting to get the measure of the opposition. Benfield’s first attempt on goal was a misdirected Kanda header from a Dennis Knight corner that the home side scrambled away.

Knight almost gave Benfield the lead when Bay keeper Lister’s attempted clearance hit Knight and ballooned towards goal. The keeper rescued the situation and set the Seahorses away, leading to the opening goal when Stephenson’s audacious lob sailed over Andy Grainger and into the net. It was to be Whitley’s only serious effort all game. Shaking off their early season torpor, Benfield pushed Whitley back, without making any clear openings in the rest of the first half. The nearest moment came on 42 minutes when Kanda and G played a one two and the former Whitby man clipped a dangerous ball across the box that just eluded Knight and was cleared by Bay’s imposing stopper, Thomas Bott.


The second half was a different matter. Benfield pushed Whitley back the whole time and Glen-Ravenhill almost marked his return to Hillheads with a goal just after the break, but Whitley closed him down. Jordan Laidler fed an on-rushing Knight on the hour and his vicious shot was charged down but appeals for handball were dismissed. Another Benfield debutant came off the bench to change the game decisively. Former Ashington winger Jake Turnbull absolutely tore former Benfield left back James Martin to pieces, turning him inside and out, while drawing several free kicks for crude trips. From one of these, clipped low across the corridor of uncertainty, an unmarked Brad Varga stooped beyond the back post and guided the ball home. It was no less than Benfield deserved, but a winner was not forthcoming as both defences stood resolute as the attackers wilted on a hot afternoon.


Man of the Match: 

Brad Varga

Match Report Ian Cusack

Photos/Footage Steve Boyle