Surveying the panoramic vista of the Eden Fella that lie across the River Eamont from Penrith’s scenic Frenchfield ground as the teams lined up in glorious sunshine, I mused that I’d not seen us win in Cumbria since that momentous evening in May 2009 when Andrew Young’s 86th minute winner brought the curtain down on the Bonny Blues’ former home at Southend Road and the Northern League title to Sam Smith’s Park. While my mind strayed back a decade, Penrith were more concerned with present day events and, straight from kick off, Martyn Coleman does what he always has against us; scored despite Andy Grainger’s best efforts. All hope of a clean sheet gone within 7 seconds. At that point, following the near 2 hour journey, made only after a precautionary pitch inspection, as one of only 4 Benfield fans there to support the lads, I questioned my sanity. However, after 4 seasons in one game, whereby we moved from brilliant sunshine, to ominous gloom, to bucketing rain and machine-gun hailstones and back to blinding sun within the course of 90 minutes, The Lions had produced a quadruple salvo that saw the final score replicate the result at Sam Smith’s back in November, resulting in a happy band of returning Lions wending our way up the M6 and across the A69.
Almost immediately after conceding, Benfield won a corner and Jake Orrell’s delivery was almost forced home by skipper Mark Turnbull, whose audacious bicycle kick drifted wide. After 12 minutes, Paul Brayson’s low cross from the right was exquisitely dummied by Man of the Match Dean Holmes, allowing Dale Pearson a good opportunity that he fired over the top. Holmes himself almost got The Lions level, when he worked some room in the box and stung keeper Johnny Jamieson’s palms with a good attempt. As the pitch that had looked immaculate at kick off become heavier and rutted with play, Benfield got themselves back on terms. Rhys Evans played a superb diagonal ball that was missed by Penrith centre back Kyle May, allowing Brayson to collect the loose ball and finish confidently from a tight angle. Brayson then almost turned provider, setting up Pearson, whose low effort was parried away by Jamieson. The visitors went ahead when a delightful move involving Brayson and Pearson set Holmes free and he beat Jamieson with a composed and classy finish. The half ended in torrential rain, with Matty Clarke firing well over when handily placed in the box for the home side.
Penrith were determined to get something from the game and on 52 minutes, Connor Shields hammered a loose ball against the post from the edge of the box. In a howling gale, accompanied by attendant sleet flurries, both sides battled the elements as well as each other, until a decisive shift in the balance of power was signalled by the unlucky Tyler Bowman sliding a dangerous James Novak cross into his own net at the midpoint of the second period. The sun came out and on came Scott McCarthy and the returning Dennis Knight. Dennis immediately sent Shock away, only for the speedy striker to collide with the diving Jamieson, who sustained an ankle injury and had to be substituted. This allowed home legend Willy Paul to enter the fray, on the day an extension to the Penrith clubhouse was opened in his name. There was to be no fairytale ending on the pitch for him. Indeed Andy Grainger denied master marksman Coleman twice, the second time with a brilliant one handed tip over, before Dennis Knight announced his return with a thumping left foot volley that made the final score harsh on the game, gallant and always welcoming Cumbrian hosts.
Man of the Match:
Match Report Ian Cusack
Action photos thanks to
Ben France from Penrith
Website – Goal Coverage-still photos – Steve Boyle
Football Photo Culture
The week began with glorious, unseasonal sunshine and unprecedented high temperatures for February, before turning back to gloomy, damp conditions more typical for the time of year, with the promise of Storm Freya’s arrival sometime on Sunday. Saturday itself was a combination of all the week’s weather in one day; a gloriously sunny opening that promised much, before a squally and unpleasant mid-section dampened proceedings before a late flurry of positivity ended things on an upbeat note. Somewhat fittingly, Newcastle Benfield versus Guisborough Town acceded to the same structure as the climactic frame of the day.
Benfield, on the back of successive away wins against Ashington and North Shields, began in the same positive manner that has harvested such good results of late. In the second minute, Jake Orrell’s snapshot reared up and hit bemused visiting keeper Jordan Nixon flush in the face. However, the opposition captain showed incredible reactions to recover immediately and miraculously turn Dale Pearson’s point-blank attempt round the post. Nixon denied the same player from the resulting corner, tipping a speculative effort over the top. From the next corner Pearson fed Orrell, whose effort beat Nixon but was hacked desperately off the line. A minute later, Paul Brayson’s low effort was deflected into the side netting. Nixon matched his earlier heroics on 20 minutes, when he raced from his line to stand tall and block an effort from the advancing Brayson.
For the first 30 minutes, Benfield were absolutely torturing Guisborough, but the Priorymen held on grimly and even had their own first effort on goal, as Mason McNeill’s shot from distance whistled a foot too high while the sky began to bruise, and broiling clouds darkened the day. Play similarly deteriorated, as a fussy referee intervened with unnecessary regularity to insist on free kicks instead of advantage as a matter of choice. Just when Guisborough must have felt it had been a job well done, Benfield took the lead from the scruffiest goal of the season. Dean Holmes collected a long pass with eye-catching fluency then fired in an effort on goal. Nixon’s block ricocheted insanely before apologetically bobbling home off the unfortunate Matthew Lovatt in the last minute of the half.
After a half time made memorable by the presence of Brie and absence of soup from the buffet, the game continued in the scruffy fashion of the latter part of the opening half. Even so it was a tremendous shock when Danny Earl’s precise finish from a free kick floated into the box and nodded down by the towering Lovatt brought the visitors level. As the clouds passed over, a fascinating contest emerged between the muscular, committed visitors and the close passing game of The Lions. Both sides looked dangerous in different ways, though the majority of chances went the way of Benfield. Pearson fed Brayson who screwed an effort just wide, while Andy Grainger raced heroically from his line to head away a long kick from Nixon, before instinctively blocking an Earl effort on the break.
This was to prove crucial as soon after a great ball out of defence by Mark Turnbull set Dale Pearson free down the left. His cross for Paul Brayson was pinpoint accurate as the veteran frontman showed exquisite footwork to throw the entire Guisborough defence a dummy before stroking the ball home to claim another home win for The Lions.
Paul Brayson’s 90th minute winner ensured a third Northern League victory for Newcastle Benfield.
After a dominant opening spell from the Lions, Matthew Lovatt’s own goal on the stroke of half-time gave Benfield the lead.
Guisborough equalised through Danny Earl’s header before Brayson beat the offside flag to net the late winner.
Match Highlights by
Match photos Paul Mcfeeley
Newcastle Benfield defeated North Shields 3-1, with Paul Brayson’s second-half brace securing the league victory for the Lions.
Dale Pearson’s low drive gave Benfield the lead before Callum Johnston levelled before half-time with a long range effort flying beyond Andrew Grainger.
In the second half, Benfield continued to threaten in attack but were dealt a cruel blow as North Shields were awarded a penalty. However, the spot kick was saved by Grainger, who guessed the right way to push the ball away from danger.
In the dying stages of the Division One encounter, Benfield were awarded a late penalty, with Pearson darting into the penalty area before being bundled over in the box.
Brayson was also denied from 12 yards, but the prolific forward was on hand to follow up and tucked the rebound home past Robins goalkeeper Michael Robinson.
Shortly after netting, the striker grabbed his second in injury time, heading home from close range to complete a neat passing move from the away side, with Jake Orrell producing an inviting cross into the path of Brayson.
Report – Luke Vinton
Photos -David Shepherd
The Stuart Elliott era at Newcastle Benfield got off to a winning start, whereby The Lions completed their first league success of 2019 in a dreadfully disappointing game at Woodhorn Lane that was ruined as a spectacle by the rank ill-discipline of the hosts.
Last season, Benfield came away with a 2-0 win on a sunny April afternoon, when Scott McCarthy scored goal of the season and Sunderland were relegated after losing 2-1 at home to Burton Albion.
This season, neither the benched McCarthy nor Sunderland, who had rescued a heroic point against the mighty Accrington Stanley the night before, were playing, as Elliott relied on the same starting XI who had pummelled Chester le Street in the League Cup on the Tuesday prior.
It would be difficult to speculate whether a limited, one-dimensional Ashington side would have caused Benfield more problems than they did if they hadn’t been reduced to 9 men just after the half hour, but the facts are that despite the tireless running of impressive Colliers debutant target man Brandon Morrison, the home team did not have a single effort on target in the whole 90 minutes.
If Andy Grainger had a quiet afternoon, the opposite was true of Colliers keeper Conor Grant who, as ever, had a blinding game. Grant was the sole reason Ashington didn’t concede a bagful at Sam Smith’s earlier in the season and he produced half a dozen outstanding saves in this game to keep the score down. His first involvement was on 8 minutes, when he smothered Dale Pearson’s effort after the tall striker collected a bouncing ball that the Ashington defence had missed. Pearson and then Paul Brayson both went close with efforts that whistled past the upright in the next couple of minutes, before Grant distinguished himself with a superb save from Brayson who cut through the middle. Rhys Evans went close with a long-range effort that dipped just over, before the game turned in a 5-minute spell.
Benfield had clearly been on top from the off and their cause was made appreciably easier by the petulance of full-back Jake Turnbull who received a red card for a wild attempt at a kick on former collier Pearson, long after the ball had gone. Soon after another Turnbull made his mark on the game, albeit in a much more constructive way. Jake Orrell’s corner from the right was met powerfully by Lions skipper Mark Turnbull, only for Grant to make a blinding save. However, the Benfield centre back reacted to prod the rebound home and scored what was proved to be the winner on 32 minutes. Instead of channelling their frustration positively, Ashington pressed the self-destruct button immediately from the restart when former Benfield player, and hero of our title-winning season in 2008/2009, Paul Antony was dismissed for a vicious elbow right in the face of Dale Pearson. A large percentage of the home crowd reacted somewhat negatively to this decision, berating referee Mark Ryan, but from where I was sat, it was the only possible decision. While the supporters were in a state of frenzied anger, the home side tried to regroup. Twice Jake Orrell fizzed efforts just wide of the post, before Grant intervened yet again with another excellent save from Pearson.
Benfield began the second period on the front foot and Rhys Evans twice almost doubled the away team’s advantage; firstly, he flashed a drive just wide and secondly, he just failed to get enough power onto a back-post header to seriously trouble Grant. Sadly, the game declined as a contest thereafter, with sluggish play almost entirely in the Ashington half, where Benfield carved out and missed a succession of half chances, where weak shooting or a woeful final pass saw the danger disappear. Grant was still on his mettle, denying Pearson and then Turnbull in quick succession.
Dean Holmes was denied by a Grant’s best save of the match on 85 minutes, before Ashington broke to win a couple of late corners but didn’t threaten the Benfield goal. The last action of the game saw Grant tip a Brayson effort round the post, before the final whistle sounded on Benfield’s fourth successive victory at Woodhorn Lane.
Match Report Ian Cusack
Photos/website Steve Boyle