Benfield 4 Seaham 0

Newcastle Benfield continued their good run of form with a convincing win against Seaham Red Star with goals from Scorgie, Scott, Devlin and Brayson.

Full match report to follow .


Newcastle Benfield effortlessly strolled to their second successive 4-0 away victory, third consecutive win and fifth haul of maximum points in a row, with a sublime yet measured performance, enabling them to complete the season’s double over Seaham Red Star by an aggregate score of 7-0. The game was every bit as emphatic as the result suggests, with all 14 Benfield players involved producing performances comfortably ahead of their opposition counterparts.

After four successive postponements, the Lions showed little signs of rustiness in the early stages, with quick, incisive passing leaving the home side chasing shadows from the first whistle. After 8 minutes, home keeper Jordan Harkess almost gifted Benfield the lead when he crashed an attempted clearance against Paul Brayson, only for the ball to drop inches wide of the post. Richy Slaughter and Elliott Forbes proved to be an imposing double act in central midfield, allowing the creative gifts of Jake Orrell free rein. It was his audacious, 70 yard crossfield ball that allowed the rampaging Josh Scott to open the scoring halfway through the first period. Scott took the perfect pass in his stride and fired emphatically past the advancing Harkess to give the visitors the lead. Seaham attempted to come back into the game and Andrew Grainger made a superb low save, tipping Craig Lawson’s shot onto the post. When the ball was recycled, Callum Munro headed wastefully over when well positioned at the back post, meaning Benfield took a single goal lead in with them at the interval.

The second period saw Benfield immediately up the ante and after Harkess had blocked an Elliott Forbes shot, Lewis Scorgie was on hand to turn the loose ball home. Soon after, Mark Convery made a double substitution; introducing Scott McCarthy and the returning Jack Devlin to the fray. Devlin soon found himself on the scoresheet, smartly finishing at the near post after excellent work down the left by the indefatigable Joe Hailes. Benfield’s final substitute Shannon Pocock was somewhat bizarrely introduced as Shaun Pollock, but the former Cirencester Town player did not allow the suggestion he was a 44 year old right arm, fast medium bowler from Port Elizabeth to disconcert him. Instead, he won the ball in the middle of the park, then spread it wide for McCarthy to deliver a perfect ball for the incoming Brayson to hammer home and complete the scoring on a highly successful evening’s work.

Man of the Match: Jake Orrell

Manager Mark Convery

Really pleased with how we’re improving as a team. Looking to keep this run going, not getting carried away as we have a lot of fixtures coming up that will really test our full squad but looking forward to a big couple of weeks with the league cup game

Consett 0 Newcastle Benfield 4

Fantastic team performance from Newcastle Benfield today.

A saved penalty from Brayson Goals from Elliot Forbes, Jake Orell and a brace from Josh Scott seal the points for the Lions.

Full match report to follow

Having already seen off Consett 5-2 in the home league game and 3-2 in a Northern League Cup tie at their ground, Newcastle Benfield travelled optimistically to a sunny, chilly and breezy Belle View hoping to complete a hat trick of victories over the Steelmen, who were trying their third different keeper against the Lions this campaign, in the shape of top quality, experienced gloveman Kyle Hayes. Sadly, for the former Whitley Bay and Shildon custodian, he was required to pick the ball out of the net 4 times during the course of this game, while Andrew Grainger who had been so dominant and commanding on the Wednesday in the victory over Morpeth, was allowed an easy afternoon, other than an excellent low stop from a Michael Sweet effort in the last 10 minutes. By then the game was long over as a contest and the away side had cruised to an emphatic victory that was still, bafflingly, not enough to win the prestigious accolade of Northern League Team of the Week. Instead this award went to North Shields, presumably for conceding 5 goals at home to relegation-threatened Jarrow Roofing.

Having easily overcome the cloying gluepot that is the Craik Park pitch, Benfield showed their skill and versatility by utilising the slick and true 4G surface to their advantage, by downing the second top placed hosts with a flurry of incisive passing and ruthless finishing that ended the game as a contest after a mere 23 minutes, by which time the Lions were sitting pretty with a 3-goal lead. The first came after 7 minutes, when Jake Orrell expertly touched in a killer pass from Luke Carr, who had collected the ball from a throw in by Joe Hailes, who was again pressed into emergency service at left back. It was a simple but devastatingly effective finish that rocked the home side back on their heels. If this were a boxing match, the Steelmen would have been subject to a mandatory standing count two minutes later, when an unmarked Josh Scott celebrated his return to his former club by collecting a pass from Carr and spinning 180 degrees, before finishing clinically into the bottom corner past the unavailing efforts of a sprawling Hayes.

On 23 minutes it was effectively game over, as the Benfield central midfield combined to devastating effect. Richy Slaughter crossed a low ball for the unmarked, on-rushing Elliott Forbes to sweep home first time, without breaking stride. The stunned home support, so vociferous at the start, either turned on their team or sought solace in strong drink and Sky Sports in the clubhouse. By the time the whistle blew for half time, it should have been 4. Ace marksman Paul Brayson got in on the act by being bundled over in the area. Picking himself up, he took the penalty, but Hayes made a great stop and then blocked the rebound to keep the score down to 3-0 at the break.

The second period, similar to the Morpeth game, was a lower intensity affair. Brayson’s delicious chip on 65 minutes was expertly clawed away by Hayes, but soon it was 4-0. Man of the Match Luke Carr produced another assist with a killer through ball that allowed Josh Scott to slot home without hesitation. It was almost 5 when Slaughter turned in a loose ball after Brayson’s effort had been parried by Hayes at full stretch, but the assistant’s flag correctly intervened and Benfield were happy to settle for a 4-0 win.

Morpeth Match report

Having been on the end of a 3-1 home reverse to Northern League champions elect Morpeth Town at Sam Smith’s Park back in October, it was a wary Newcastle Benfield who ventured north to Craik Park for this rearranged fixture, shorn of the injured Lewis Scorgie who joined Dylan McEvoy on the sidelines. Despite the gloriously sunny, if still cool, day that preceded the game, it still required a referee’s inspection to ensure the game went ahead, in conditions that would be termed soft in the racing fraternity. Indeed, certain parts of the pitch were placed somewhere on the marshland to swamp continuum. One person who did not allow this to bother him was ace marksman Paul Brayson whose first half hat trick took his tally for the season to 39 goals in 39 games, as well as ensuring The Lions took the spoils after their most impressive performance of the season.

Morpeth Town are undoubtedly a class football side and one who will win the Northern League by a considerable distance, but tonight they were outfought, outthought and outplayed from first whistle to last by a skilled, committed and fluent Benfield side where every player, from front to back, earned the generous applause of the travelling support at full time. Brassy’s contribution we’ve already mention, but the midfield pairing of Richie Slaughter and Alex Nisbet utterly snuffed out the threat of the division’s best player Ben Sayers, while Joe Hailes performed admirably in an unfamiliar left back role and Josh Scott produced a superb cameo of hard running and boundless energy when coming off the bench. Best of all, Andrew Grainger lived down last season’s nightmare red card with a display of assured handling and territorial dominance, as well as glorious saves when required, that must rank with several of his other gold medal games over the past 15 years. Truly he was in inspired and inspirational form.

The first goal came on 16 minutes when Elliott Forbes played an astute pass on a dreadful surface through to the onrushing Brayson, who finished with verve and aplomb through the keeper’s legs. Home cries for offside were as desperate as they were erroneous, as was demonstrated 10 minutes later when a wild slice of a clearance fell to Brayson who demonstrated guile and panache by going round keeper Dryden’s impudent dash from his line, before rolling the ball into an empty net. Dryden redeemed himself with a full length save to deny Luke Carr a third after 39 minutes, but the former Morpeth attacker turned provider with a stupendous pass to Brayson, setting the veteran striker free and able to again stroll past Dryden and slot home for a scarcely believable 3-0 lead at the break.

The second period saw Benfield withstand periods of Morpeth pressure, after adopting a more circumspect approach with the departure of the hamstrung Dummet leaving the Lions denuded of defensive bodies. It was then that Andrew Grainger showed his worth, catching every single ball into the box, whether on his tip toes or down in the dirt. When former sunderland and Manchester City striker Stephen Elliott, a full international cap for Ireland, reduced the arrears in stoppage time with a classy turn and shot, it was small consolation for a well beaten home side. Morpeth will be champions, but they’ll not come up against many teams as good as Benfield were in this game.

Match coverage courtesy of Morpeth Town

Newcastle United

Senior Cup Match report

Newcastle Benfield’s 14 year wait for an appearance in the Northumberland Senior Cup final goes on, after they were unceremoniously turfed out of the last 4 of the competition by Newcastle United’s Under 23 team on a freezing Friday evening at Whitley Park in front of a crowd of 479. Disappointingly the final score did not reflect the efforts put in by a spirited and competitive Benfield side, shorn of flu victim club captain Mark Turnbull and the midfield creativity of Dylan McEvoy, injured in the warm up, who remained in the contest until Callum Roberts added an unfair gloss to the result with his second of the evening after 81 minutes.

The game started off fairly even and low-key, with neither side showing much attacking intent in a cagey opening 20 minutes. Things changed when Roberts opened the scoring; the former Kilmarnock loanee, decisively cut in from the right and buried a low, hard shot inside the near post, past the desperate dive of Andrew Grainger. The goal came out of the blue and rocked the Lions back on their heels and the full-time Magpies, including long time reserve and member of the 25-man Premier League Newcastle squad, Australian centre back Curtis Good, were content to pass the ball around without much intent to punish their Northern League opponents. Particularly eye-catching in possession was Liberian Mohammed Sangare, who looked a cut above every other player in a black and white shirt. He profited from a miskick in the visitors’ penalty area by slamming home a loose ball on 37 minutes to put the Magpies 2-0 ahead and seemingly settled the contest before the interval, much to the disappointment of the sizeable and vociferous travelling contingent.

After the resumption, Benfield enjoyed long periods of dominance, with decent efforts by Jake Orrell and substitute Elliott Forbes causing some discomfort in the United defence. However, the real moment was Paul Brayson’s only real chance of the evening on 70 minutes; seizing possession of a loose ball in the box, he turned and fired in a bullet of a shot that whistled inches past the far post. If that had gone in, who knows what could have transpired. Instead, Newcastle introduced impressive left winger Callum Smith, whose attacking cameo nullified the influence of Benfield right back Rhys Evans, who had previously enjoyed the freedom of the flank to rampage up and down. Smith it was who pulled the ball back for Roberts to complete the scoring. At that point Benfield heads dropped and only a couple of tremendous late saves from the ever-dependable Andy Grainger kept the score to a realistic, if harsh, 3-0. Sadly another route to silverware has disappeared and Newcastle United will play Morpeth Town in the final at St James Park sometime in May.

Lions v Washy

Following a 3-0 success over Seaham Red Star Newcastle Benfield welcomed back Josh Scott from a spell with Consett, as well as Jon Mellish on loan from Gateshead for their second home game in a week against struggling Washington. Even better, Jon was accompanied by stylish, ball-playing midfielder Elliott Forbes as well. With Rhys Evans fired up and determined to make a show against his old team, the Lions began the game like an express train. Wave after wave of home attacks, on an absolutely filthy afternoon, rained down on an ever more unsettled Mechanics defence. Benfield had pace, skill, guile and flair in spades and it seemed only a matter of time before the Washington back line was breached.

On 9 minutes Paul Brayson was unmarked 5 yards out at the far post. When he accepted an astute, pinpoint cross from Jake Orrell, the crowd were already celebrating. Astonishingly, Brassy lifted the ball six inches the wrong side of the post and put his head in his hands, as did I. When looking up again, the welcome sight of Brayson hooking a loose ball home from 10 yards meant Benfield had taken the lead after 10 minutes. The heavy, greasy pitch caused many a slip among the visiting defence, giving the pacy home side plenty of opportunities that were all squandered. Jake Orrell had the ball in the net but was flagged offside. Moments later he ran onto a Brayson through ball and put the ball inches wide. Brayson himself profited from a Washington slip and chipped the ball agonisingly too high. Dylan McEvoy picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and fired in a left foot blow that flicked off a Washington heel and just went wide. The corner came in and Richie slaughter’s toe poke was smothered on the line. Incredibly it was 1-0 at half time when it could have been 5 at least.

The second half began in the same fashion; Benfield swarming forward and Washington defending heroically. Brassy accepted a through ball from debutant Forbes, went around Washington keeper Dan Gladstone and fired wide on 47 minutes. Two minutes later, Jon Mellish hit the bar with a header from a corner. When the ball rebounded to him, Mellish headed the ball a fraction over the top. Finally, right on the hour, it was 2-0; that man Brayson hit an impressive, unstoppable low volley after a precise cross from the right by Jake Orrell. After this, with each team making a trio of substitutions, the rain becoming incessant and the pitch an energy sapping bog, the pace of the game slowed, and action dried up. On 88 minutes, Washington’s Alex White pounced on a loose ball after an extended game of pinball in the box, hammering home to halve the deficit. Game on! Straight from kick off Gladstone sliced a clearance to Brayson, who crashed it home for his hat trick. Job done. Game over!

Man of the Match: Paul Brayson

Seaham Red star

With the state of the weather in recent weeks, it is easy to lose track of exactly where we’re at in the season. The facts were that, on the last day of January, Benfield still had 21 league games, in other words half of the season, left to play. The last time the Lions had played was the 3-2 win away at Consett in the League Cup on January 16th. The last home game was the Coleshill FA Vase game on January 6th and the last league game had been the home loss to Team Northumbria on Boxing Day. Having played so many cup ties, this was Benfield’s 37th fixture of the season, which meant we had fallen far behind the rest of the division in terms of completed games. Strangely enough, our league position of 14th had remained unchanged, presumably on the basis those around us who had been in action had failed to collect maximum points. That said, we needed a win to reanimate the domestic season and, courtesy of a scorching first half showing, that is exactly what we got.

In the absence of the injured James Novak, Dylan McEvoy slotted in at left back. While this deprived the team of his sparkling creative vision, it was a decision borne out of necessity. Additionally, Lacquan Esdaille was unavailable because of a family emergency, regarding which the entire club sends its best wishes, with Marc Dummet moving to the centre of the back four, where his calm temperament and assured performance resulted in another fine game from the composed and cultured defender. Jake Orrell and Joe Hailes got the nod to play off Paul Brayson up front, while new signing, the powerful and imposing target man Malky Morien, was on the bench.

On a petrifyingly cold evening, with a crowd decimated by the supposed alternative attraction of the best league in the world, in the shape of Benitez’s bumblers failing to win at home for the 8th successive game, the first half saw Benfield overrun the visitors from Wearside. While Seaham are a fluid, expansive side who can always be relied upon to play good football, without recourse to either the brainless thump up the park or strongarm, rough house tactics, they had no answer to the trickery, pace and intricate passing movements of the home side.

Visiting keeper Jordan Harkess had been called into action early on, to tip over a stinging Richie Slaughter thunderbolt. Nothing came from that corner, but with 20 minutes on the clock Benfield took the lead. Brayson’s flag kick bobbed around the box, before being half cleared to Alex Nisbet 10 yards from goal. He took the ball on his right knee, flipped it on to his left foot and buried an unstoppable low shot into the corner. It was exactly what the home team deserved.

Five minutes later it was 2-0; young forward Jake Orrell has been enduring a lean period in front of goal in the league of late, but he twice profited from the astute passing of his wise old strike partner Paul Brayson. Firstly, an unexpected 90 degree turn utterly wrongfooted the Seaham defence and Orrell’s run onto the slide-rule through ball in the area was timed to perfection, allowing him to clip it past the advancing Harkess. Brayson’s second assist saw him thread a ball through a pack of defenders and into the path of the unmarked Orrell, whose first time shot arrowed past Harkess and into the roof of the net. It would have been even worse for Seaham if Harkess had not sprawled to save at full stretch on the stroke of half time, denying Orrell his hat trick.

The second period was a more sedate affair. Despite Seaham showing some attacking intent immediately after the break, the Benfield defence kept them at arm’s length and Andrew Grainger was untroubled all evening. Late on, debutant Malky Morien came on and displayed some excellent touches, hinting at a promising new dimension to Benfield’s attack in the future. All in all, a solid, fully-merited home win that was worth braving the cold for.

Consett League Cup

Only three days after the gut-wrenching FA Vase loss to Coleshill Town, Newcastle Benfield were back in the saddle for a third round Northern League Cup tie away to Consett. The Steelmen’s well-appointed Belle View ground boasts a 4G pitch that explains to the uneducated why there can be no such thing as an “all weather” surface. Ignoring the chance of fog, the very real danger up in the hills of North West Durham is snow. Despite the fact that the paths and roads were clear on Tyneside, by the time we began our ascent towards Shotley Bridge, the lands beyond Rowlands Gill were dusted white and sparkled crystalline under the streetlights. However, the game went ahead, and a patched-up Benfield side welcomed back Marc Dummett after injuryas well as giving a debut to former Cirencester Town player Shannon Pocock; a real baptism of ice.

The first half was a cagey affair, with the two main incidents involving Paul Brayson. In the second minute he broke free, but was denied by Consett keeper James Platten. That was just the sighter though; twenty minutes later, Brassy again burst clear and this time made no mistake, giving the Lions a slender single goal lead that they took to the break.

If the opening period was lacking action, the second 45 certainly made up for it. Within 30 seconds of the resumption, Brayson charged forward and unleashed a powerful drive that flashed past Platten, but struck the outside of the post. Joe Hailes, who never stopped running all night, saw Platten block his effort before the Lions doubled their lead on 52 minutes. Alex Nisbet collected the ball in the middle of the Consett half, drove on, cut inside and fired an unstoppable low, left-footed drive into the bottom corner. It was a great goal, but more than matched almost from the restart, when Consett captain Danny Craggs surged forward before unleashing a thunderbolt that beat Andrew Grainger all ends up. However, the Benfield custodian was soon to get the better of Craggs, with a stunning one-handed, flying save that clawed the ball away from the top corner to keep the visitors ahead.

Straight from the following corner, Grainger’s quick and accurate throw set Paul Brayson free and the veteran marksman finished with the kind of aplomb he’s been showing for quarter of a century now. This appeared to deflate the home side, with Benfield creating and squandering several presentable half chances for Lewis Scorgie and Scott McCarthy in particular. As a last throw of the dice, Consett introduced former Benfield winger Josh Scott and he wasted a glorious opportunity when unmarked at the near post, blazing the ball into the side netting. Just to keep the Lions on their toes, Craggs grabbed a second goal on 91 minutes after a goalmouth scramble, but Benfield saw the tie through and deservedly progress to the last 8.