Newcastle Benfield Match report v Stockton Town -Ebac Northern League Division 1

On a baking hot Saturday afternoon in Flaming June, I’ll somnolently set aside a crisp, continental beer and tear my attention away from the mellifluous sounds on leather on willow as my beloved Tynemouth build another impregnable total in the North East Premier League and sigh, because I miss football so much. Then I’ll remember this game.

Back in August Benfield visited Stockton Town in an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round replay and tore them to ribbons, winning 3-0 with a slick display of fast, incisive football that augured so well for the season. However, like most of the early promise of this campaign, it was illusory and a fortnight later the Anchors had their revenge with an untroubled 2-0 win at Sam Smith’s in a league game. After Saturday’s bizarre loss to Whickham, the outcome of this one seemed unpredictable. In the end, it was a depressing re-enactment of last season’s equally sobering thumping, as another 4-0 defeat was all we had to show for a trip down and back up the A19. Fair play to Stockton, they were hungrier and more incisive from the off. In fact, it took 31 minutes for Benfield to muster their first serious effort on goal, when Rhys Evans sent a thunderous 25 yard strike a shade over the bar. This was an encouraging sight, not least because we were already 2-0 down by that point.

The opening goal came after 5 minutes and was the first serious goal attempt of the game. A near interchange of passes between Roberts and Hayes left the former in on goal and he calmly placed the ball under the advancing Dan Nimmons, who was enjoying a rare start in goal to gain some game time before the League Cup semi final against Whitley Bay, when Andrew Grainger will be unavailable. Neither the floodgates opened nor a plucky rearguard kicked into action, as the game passed in low-intensity, aimless passing forwards and backwards, with no real attempt at penetration from either side, until Roberts doubled his and Stockton’s tally with a glorious header from a Craggs cross that was disturbingly similar to Andrew Bulford’s second goal for Whickham on Saturday previous. Benfield did then enjoy more possession but offered no real threat other than the Evans effort.

The second half started with a flurry of home attacks, but little came of it and the game settled into a half-paced, exhibition of short passing that was pleasing on the eye, until the whole edifice came tumbling down with an overhit pass, a misdirected cross or a shanked shot. Rhys Evans again came very close to getting on the score sheet, rifling an exact replica of his first half effort again just too high. Then the referee made the unjust and ridiculously harsh decision to send Reece Noble off for an innocuous trip in the centre circle on 70 minutes; a yellow card certainly, but never a red and enough to persuade the away side to hoist the white flag. Almost immediately, Fred Woodhouse’s misdirected shot cannoned off a wrongfooted James Novak and put the Anchors 3-0 ahead, before Hayes completed the scoring with a venomous low drive from the edge of the area that gave poor Nimmins not an earthly. Thankfully, the whistle soon blew, and the evening could be immediately forgotten about.

Man of the Match


Match Report Ian Cusack

Website Steve Boyle

Match Highlights Luke Vinton

Top Action photo Harry Cook



Match Report Newcastle Benfield v Whickham Ebac Northern League Division 1

On a day when almost the entire Northern League programme fell victim to the torrential overnight rain, Stan Thompson produced the trademark superb playing surface that Sam Smith’s Park is renowned for. There was never any question of this game being postponed. However, after a comprehensive defeat inflicted by the predatory finishing of Andrew Bulford, the superb distance shooting from Dale Burrell and the impressive passing of Matty Pattison, you’d be forgiven for hearing the odd mutter from Benfield fans who wished the heavens had opened even more profoundly. It just shows the quality of the Northern League first division.

Benfield were forced into one change from the side that won so convincingly away to Penrith the week before, with Dennis Knight starting in place of the unwell Jake Orrell, who was declared hors de combat late morning. Knight played a central role early on, being twice denied by impressive Whickham keeper Tsapalos. At the other end, Andrew Grainger went full length to turn away a stinging Burrell effort, with Bulford flashing the loose ball a shade wide. After 8 minutes Knight flicked home but was denied by the assistant’s flag. On 10 minutes, Dale Pearson swivelled to hit a Brayson cross against the upright. With 12 minutes gone, Knight volleyed a Rhys Evans pass just wide. After this explosive opening, things settled down to an even contest, until Bulford’s ludicrous miskick from a Burrell cross put Whickham ahead. He missed the ball entirely when trying to shoot, only for his standing leg to deflect the ball home. The same pair combined on 42 minutes, but this time Bulford’s finish was a beautiful header. It was a great goal.

Within 5 minutes of the restart, Benfield ought to have been level. First Knight and then Pearson fired left-footed efforts against the base of the far post and wide. For 10 minutes, Benfield absolutely battered Whickham, but simply couldn’t find a way through the opposition defence, but it was all to no avail as Burrell fired an unstoppable effort from 30 yards right into the top corner. It was an incredible finish, but Benfield kept going though absolutely nothing went for us, as we suffered one of those Performance of the Week batterings that happens from time to time. Grainger denied Bulford a hat trick on 65 minutes with an acrobatic one-handed save, but it only delayed the inevitable as the experienced striker cut inside and fired home on 80 minutes to make it 4-0.

Tsapalos again distinguished himself with a breathtaking save from Pearson, though James Martin was on hand to bundle the ball home. The final act of the game again had Tsapalos at the centre of things, pulling off a stunning one handed save to tip Brayson’s venomous effort round the post. Just one of those days unfortunately, but fair play to Whickham for pulling a rabbit out of the hat with this one.


Match Report

Ian Cusack

Photos/website Steve Boyle


Newcastle Benfield 1 Whickham 4 Northern League Division 1

Newcastle Benfield suffered a disappointing defeat today against Whickham Fc who gained a well deserved 3 points in their battle against relegation.

The Lions enjoyed a lot of possession however the final ball was often wasted without achieving a positive result. Defensive errors by Benfield and counter attacking football by the Glebemen allowed the visitors to cruise to their Third away win of the season.

Andrew Bulford scored a Hatrick and a goal for Max Cowburn made it 4-0 before James Martin scored a consolation goal after following up a Dale Pearson free kick.

Final score

Newcastle Benfield 1

Whickham 4

Attendance 120

Newcastle Benfield Manager Stuart Elliott gives his view on his first set of games in charge of the Lions

Since joining the club I have been delighted at the way the players have responded to me. Their attitudes, effort to work and quality have been outstanding, and this has shown in training and their match performances.

Generally when you arrive at a club as manager, the club is near the bottom of the league, can’t score or stop goals and has no confidence. This has been the total opposite and credit must go to previous managers for bringing such quality to the club.

Getting to know the players personally, their abilities and characters is very important to me. This is something I have tried to do quickly and has been helped hugely by Brassy and his knowledge, also the players themselves. This is key to planning for next season and something that can be a massive benefit to the club.

So far the performances have been very consistent and entertaining to watch. Even in our one defeat we played some terrific football and I feel dominated for big chunks of the game.

I’d like to thank the players and staff for all their hard work and support so far, and long may it continue.

Newcastle Benfield Match report v Penrith in the Ebac Northern League Division 1

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: 

Dean Holmes

Match Report Ian Cusack

Action photos thanks to

Ben France from Penrith

Website – Goal Coverage-still photos – Steve Boyle

Newcastle Benfield Match Report

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.


Newcastle Benfield 2 Guisborough Town 1

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.