In front of an impressive attendance of nearly 300, including two coaches of 1874 Northwich fans, Newcastle Benfield progressed to the third round of the FA Vase with what was ultimately a comfortable victory. The game was played in great spirits and with something approaching a cup tie atmosphere, though the home side’s utter dominance in the second period silenced the noisy away following and left their big bass drum decidedly unbanged. Although, the first half told a different story as 1874 had the majority of possession and pushed back a cautious home side, who were happy to stand off their opponents, perhaps a little too far at times. That said, 1874 only had 2 noteworthy efforts on goal in the opening period; after 9 minutes, Taylor Kennerley had an untroubled run through the heart of the Benfield defence, but shot weakly and directly at an untroubled Andy Grainger. The Benfield custodian had to be more alert to a later attempt by Jack Irlam, showing great agility to tip a low effort round the post.
Meanwhile, at the other end Paul Brayson, playing against the successor club to the Northwich he served with such distinction a decade and a half ago, twice saw efforts sail agonisingly over the bar. After 15 minutes, Jake Orrell’s astute low ball into the box was missed by Scott McCarthy, who attempted a flamboyant back heel, and fell at the feet of the startled Brayson, who stabbed an effort fractionally too high. Later, a superb interchange between Dennis Knight and Dean Holmes saw the latter put in a perfect cross for Brayson to nod over from the penalty spot. Knight also saw a deflected effort creep past the post as the hosts continued to carve chances out of their meagre ration of possession in a goalless first half.
The second period was a different matter entirely, with 1874 utterly unable to harness the strong wind at their backs and completely incapable of mounting a coherent response to Benfield’s compelling and ruthless passing and movement. Keeping the ball on the deck for the most part, the rampant Lions posed a constant threat to the visitors’ goal. Brayson thumped a left foot volley just too high, before a stupendous move involving Knight Slaughter and James Martin fashioned the opening goal. Martin’s excellent cross was headed powerfully and emphatically into the corner of the net, beyond the desperate lunge of keeper James Coates, to give Benfield a deserved lead. From this moment on, 1874 offered nothing other than their best endeavours and it was no surprise when the tie was settled on 70 minutes, when Scott McCarthy nodded in a Knight corner at the back post.
It was almost 3-0 on 80 minutes when a thumping Brayson free kick caught Coates completely unawares, bouncing back off the motionless keeper’s knee, straight to Knight, who skied the rebound. Another goal would have been harsh on 1874, whose superb fans were a credit to their club and who were glumly engaged in untying their array of flags from the stand as the final whistle blew on the Wembley hopes and Benfield marched on into the third round.
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Footage and Tom wade interview Luke Vinton
Photos Paul Mcfeeley
Website Steve Boyle