Marske Utd v NBFC

Marske United 0

Newcastle Benfield 0

Match report

Marske United 0

Newcastle Benfield 0

Having suffered the heartbreak of losing on penalties to Bishop Auckland on the Thursday previous, probably the last fixture The Lions would have chosen was Marske United’s coronation party. Having already secured a promotion spot, the Seasiders only required a point to be crowned Northern League champions for the second time in 3 years. As a result, a large, good natured crowd, including a sizeable number from Tyneside, gathered at the charmingly ramshackle Mount Pleasant ground, to be entertained in a competitive game that saw the depleted visitors give a good account of themselves.

The hosts started off on the front foot, with Curtis Round twice denied in the opening exchanges; firstly, his mazy run into the box was halted by a superbly timed Jake Orrell tackle and then Mark Turnbull was there at the right time, to hoof an effort away from the goal. With only 13 available players, including a bench of manager Mark Convery and youngster Sol Bell, Benfield were never going to take the game to the visitors. That said, Jack Devlin worked hard as the sole frontman in a cautious 4-5-1 formation. On the half hour, he accepted a Jake Orrell pass and sent a speculative lob a yard wide from 35 yards. Just before the interval Rhys Evans, who had another storming game in a storming season, broke into the box, but the home defence crowded him out and the chance was gone.

After the interval, the heat and the effects of a long season caught up with both sides and despite Marske’s attempts to step things up to win the title with a flourish, a goal would not come. Andy Grainger saved a Gott backheel on the line on 55 minutes and soon after Turnbull’s vital touch deflected a Round shot onto the inside of the post and out, where it fell to Danny Earl. However, the bounce was unkind for the Marske hitman and he could not divert the waist high ball on target. At the other end Scott McCarthy twice narrowly missed out on converting Orrell crosses; firstly, nodding wide from a tight angle and then failing to execute a Ronaldo style bicycle kick. Finally, Jack Devlin’s late shot was deflected wide before Marske decided on discretion rather than valour, playing keep ball in the corners until referee Shane Sugden, who produced an immaculate display of firm but sensible officiating, brought the game to a close after 95 long minutes.

The final whistle was the cue for a mass pitch invasion, with the home players swamped under delirious supporters. We congratulate Marske and wish them all the best for the future and appreciate the kind words and positive comments on a glorious sunny day at the seaside.

Man of the Match:

Rhys Evans

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Bishop Auck v NBFC

Kick off 745 pm

Thursday 3rd May 2018

Newcastle Benfield’s season, which promised so much at one point, effectively ended in the disappointment of a penalty shoot-out loss to a spirited Bishop Auckland side in the League Cup semi-final at Heritage Park. Ironically, this had been the scene of Benfield’s astonishing opening day 7-3 victory that hinted at the creativity the squad had to offer. Despite regular and repeated improvements and additions to the pool of available talent over the season, the not inconsiderable task of fitting in 13 games in 26 days, finally caught up with the lads, who were running on vapours for most of the second half.

Twenty four hours after the home game against Marske, manager Mark Convery was able to name a completely different side, though all the substitutes had played the full 90 minutes the night before. Bishops themselves came into the game after 7-0 and 6-1 losses, with the spectre of relegation hanging over them. In the first half, they created nothing of note, while Benfield relied on the incisive creativity of Jake Orrell and Luke Carr down either wing to carve out opportunities. Most of these seemed to fall to Scott McCarthy, who was unable to replicate his recent sizzling form and only seriously troubled imposing home keeper Gareth Young once, with a deft header that the Bishops stopper instinctively tipped over the bar. Despite a seemingly endless succession of corners, the ball simply wouldn’t fall kindly to the visiting forwards and only a strong Lewis Scorgie header, again instinctively tipped over by Young, caused Bishops any problems. This was Scorgie’s last involvement as he fell heavily, sustaining an ankle injury from the restart and needed to be replaced by Marc Dummett, as the sides went into the break level at 0-0.

The second period was a more even affair; a tired, but game Benfield continued to take the play to Bishops, with efforts by Carr and McCarthy just drifting wide. Bishops were suddenly enthused by news spreading throughout the crowd of Jarrow Roofing’s heavy loss at Sunderland RCA that confirmed the safety of the Two Blues, leading to a sea change on the pitch. Former Benfield man Hoganson played a one two with Jury and bore down on Andrew Grainger, only to slip the ball wide of the far post. Sadly, it was a portent of what was to come; on 75 minutes Stuart Thompson rose and headed beautifully past Grainger, following an expert cross from the right. All seemed lost and only two incredible saves from Thompson in the space of 30 seconds kept the visitors alive. However, there was one final twist to the plot. Dylan McEvoy’s pinpoint cross was turned in by substitute Jack Devlin in the third minute of stoppage time, to seemingly break Bishops’ hearts.

If the game had gone to extra time, Benfield would have won. However, cup games now go straight to penalties and the grizzled Young, who had been a commanding and reassuring figure for Bishops all night, came to their rescue. He spread himself full length to block efforts by Carr and McEvoy, while Bishops converted all of theirs, to win 4-2. They now advance to play Dunston UTS, who produced a shock in the other semi-final to knock out Vase hopefuls Stockton Town, in the final at Consett on May 12th.For Benfield, there are still two games to play at Marske and Whitley Bay. Let’s hope for a positive end to a season that has delivered so much entertainment and fine football, as well as the bitter disappointment of two defeats on penalties in competitions we’d hoped to win. Make no mistake, this is a fine squad of talented players and Newcastle’s senior and most successful non-league side will surely come again next season. The Lions will always roar.

Man of the Match:

Jake ORELL

Match report Ian Cusack

NBFC v Penrith

Newcastle Benfield 0-5 Penrith

Penrith’s Martyn Coleman netted four as Newcastle Benfield suffered a heavy home defeat against relegation-threatened Penrith.

The striker grabbed an early opener (4) before doubling his side’s lead with a fine lob on the half-hour mark (29).

Coleman completed his hat-trick before half-time (38), his fourth in seven matches with another fine finish before the break.

Coleman claimed his fourth (74) with a low free-kick before substitute Will Paul (88) sealed an emphatic victory.

With 9 changes from Monday’s 2-2 draw with Jarrow Roofing, it was clear that Benfield’s priorities were fully focused on their Northern League Cup semi-final in 24 hours time, as manager Mark Convery opted to hand starts to many players with little playing time this season.

They were made to pay early on as the experienced Coleman began the rout in the fourth minute, bursting into the penalty area before firing a low strike into the far corner, giving Benfield goalkeeper Dan Nimmins little chance in saving.

The height and strength of the front line of Penrith proved a difficulty for the Benfield defence as a dangerous long ball was headed on by Andy Murray-Jones with ease into the path of Coleman who beat Nimmins to the ball before lobbing the goalkeeper.

Penrith, fighting for survival in the Northern League, put the game to ease before the break as Murray-Jones, once again, caused mayhem for the defence with a towering header into Coleman’s path who placed the ball beyond a rushing Nimmins.

In the second half, Penrith’s main man was amongst the goals with a low drilled free-kick which flew beyond the wall and into the far corner.

Benfield almost claimed a late consolation as Sam Bell’s clearance from the six-yard box deflected off Benfield’s Jack Devlin, deceiving Stu Dixon but trickling onto the post.

Penrith added their fifth, with Paul getting onto a rebound after Adam Main’s speculative effort crashed onto the bar, with the substitute in the right place to slot home.

Although the game was of major importance to the home side, The Cumbrians claimed a vital three points to move clear of the relegation zone.

Match report Luke Vinton

Next game Thursday Away kick off 745 pm

Jarrow R v NBFC

An excellent switch across the field of play from Mark Dummett to Jake Orell who in turn played a first time cross to Paul Brayson opened the scoring for Newcastle Benfield.

Brayson then turned provider in the 19th minute with an excellent through ball to Jack Devlin who produced an excellent finish to make the score 2-0.

Jarrow managed to pull a goal back in the 77th Minute with a strike from Bradley Varga which flew in off the post before equalising in the 89th minute with a goal from Paul Gardiner.

Final score 2-2

Match report to follow….

With matches coming a vast rate Benfield made  three changes from their recent excellent win against Shildon. The home team started quickly but their final pass was of no concern to the Lions who themselves were unlucky not to get an opening goal.

It came in the 4th minute when Jack Devlin gained possession, showing great control and quick feet but his effort flew over the roofing cross bar,this didn’t deter the young striker however and  a minute later he came desperately close to opening the scoring getting on the end of a fantastic free kick taken by MarkTurnbull controlling the ball in one motion he hit a strong drive  inches over the roofing cross bar.

It was the same combination in the 9th minute which saw another breakaway, with quick feet he went past a defender to hit another drive just wide. At this stage of the game little had been seen of Jarrow Roofing in an attacking sense and Benfield werecontrolling the game.

The inevitable goal for Newcastle Benfield had to arrive and it duly came in the 13th minute, a brilliant cross field pass from Benfield defender Marc Dummett found Jake Orrell who then laid the ball off to PAUL BRAYSON who completed the move by sliding the ball past the Roofing goal keeper  Dan Regan to make the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield.

The Lions didn’t have to wait much longer before they roared and got a second goal,in the 19th minute Rhys Evans who has been a revelation at right back played a long thru ball to Paul Brayson who in return passed the ball onto JACK DEVLIN with the young striker finishing with aplomb to make the score 2-0 to Newcastle Benfield.

Anthony Myers the Jarrow Roofing central defender did well in the 33rd minute in stopping a  possible third goal for the visitors when he intercepted a pass from Alex Nesbit intended for Paul Brayson with the Benfield striker free from a defender.

The 43rd minute saw the hosts go close to getting a goal,a tremendous run by Lewis Walton down the left flank saw him dribble past three Benfield defenders before shooting at goal bringing a fine save out of Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger.

Benfield were well on top with halftime approaching and had the Jarrow Roofing defence retreating like the Italian army. The interval then came with Benfield looking comfortable leading 2-0

The second half had  just got under way and you could see that a tough team talk had  occurred in the Roofing dressing room at half time,they looked  a yard quicker and had it not been in for Benfield captain Mark Turnbull in the 54th minute the home team could have scored a goal. A long pass out of  defence found Olly Martin, he then played a terrific low centre into the Benfield Penalty area only for Sparky to put out for a corner.

It was Benfield’s turn a minute later, a magical run from the diminutive Joe Hailes saw him advance from the half way line beating two defenders before playing a one/two with Paul Brayson, receiving the return pass his attempted lob went just over the Roofing cross bar.

Fifty seven minutes had gone by when Benfield should have had another goal, great play by Shane Donaghey saw is through ball set up Paul Brayson who saw his effort on goal go inches wide.

It was the turn of the home team to start to dictate the pace of the game and they were starting to look dangerous,seventy seven minutes had passed by when the Roofers deservedly got a goal back. Benfield conceded a corner which was headed clear to the edge of their penalty area only to be  met by BRAD VARGA who after controlling the ball hit a strong shot seeing the ball fly into the net from the inside of the Benfield goal making it 2-1.

Although they were dominating play the Roofers were not giving the Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger any real concern and in fact it was the visitors who should have put the game out of the hands of their opponents. A run down the right wing by Mark Turnbull saw him play a pass to  Joe Hailes, he in turn crossed the ball into the middle to find Rhys Evans  who then laid the ball off to Brayson but the strikers effort cleared the Jarrow Roofing cross bar. The next scoring chance came when an excellent through ball played by Lewis Scorgie found Jack Devlin giving him a great chance to put the game to bed but he shot wide when the least he should have done was hit the target.

With a minute of the match remaining Jarrow Roofing got an equalising goal, they were awarded a free kick out on the left, the ball was floated in to be  headed clear to the wing by the Benfield defence, the ball was half cleared out to the flank but was quickly returned low across the Benfield goal area to be  met by PAUL GARDINER who side footed the ball home to the delight of his team mates making the score 2-2 completing a fine comeback.

The  whistle soon came with the final score 2-2 much to the delight of the Roofers team who gain a point in their fight against relegation.

M.O.M..JOE HAILES

Match report

Allan Young

Photos Tweddle/Mcfeeley

NBFC v Shildon

NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 4 SHILDON 2

There have been some monumental contests between these two sides at Sam Smith’s Park over the years: the brutal first ever meeting in December 2004 that produced the same result, the astonishing 7-1 away win in October 2007, the scarcely credible 5 goal salvo by Shildon after a blank first half on the opening day in August 2015 and then there was today’s incredible game. In a freak piece of fixture scheduling, the return game took place less than 48 hours after the clubs had met at Dean Street, where Shildon had run out 2-1 against a much-changed Benfield side. Today’s game made that contest seem tame in comparison.

With a full-strength side out, Benfield were attempting to play themselves back into form ahead of the League Cup semi final at Bishop Auckland on Thursday. However, the sheer volume of games and the attendant impact this has had on the squad in terms of fitness, exhaustion and undoubtedly motivation, means it is often very difficult to compete both constantly and consistently at the highest levels. Perhaps this was why Shildon were able to take a two-goal lead within the opening 11 minutes. The opener was a solid-gold fluke. DAN GROVES advanced down the Benfield left and, on the edge of the area, completely miskicked the ball; an act that utterly bamboozled Rhys Evans, who unwittingly played a one two with the Shildon player and Andrew Grainger, who was left flatfooted and exposed as the visiting player stumbled over the ball and inadvertently sent it dribbling apologetically over the line. Such a farcical opening played on the minds of the Benfield back line and a minute later a communications breakdown between Grainger and Evans almost allowed Marc Ellison in for a second, but when the ball reached the Shildon man with a presentable opening, he shot weakly wide.

The second goal arrived soon enough. Towering hitman BILLY GREULICH-SMITH benefitted from an inch-perfect cross, to rise high above the Lilliputian Benfield rear-guard and plant a commanding header against the crossbar. The ball was not properly cleared and within seconds Greulich-Smith had acrobatically finished the chance to double Shildon’s lead. At this point, it appeared the score could be just about anything to none in favour of the Railwaymen, but they soon seemed to run out of steam as Benfield grew into the game and forced the hitherto dominant visitors to retreat. Elliott Forbes, who has been a star in midfield during his loan spell from Gateshead, was playing his final game for the Lions and almost marked it with a goal, when letting fly from 25 yards out and seeing the ball whistle just over the angle of bar and post. The sign of the carnage in the Shildon area to come was hinted at when centre back Jack Turnbull took a wild swipe at a Paul Brayson cross, sending the ball only inches over his own bar with keeper Nick Liversedge a bemused onlooker. Several other crosses by the impressive, returning Luke Carr caused panic for the Railwaymen, but the score remained unchanged until the break.

The second period seemed to have settled down into a pattern of attractive but ineffective Benfield passing being thwarted by muscular Shildon defending. With 73 minutes gone, there seemed little prospect of any significant change of fortunes for either side until the away side began to panic at every possible opportunity. Having spurned a glorious chance when Elliott Forbes sliced a Luke Carr cross over the bar from 6 yards out, Benfield cut the deficit when a similar ball from the other side of the field by James Martin was decisively driven home by JAKE ORRELL through the legs of the dithering Liversedge, who received an excoriating volley of vituperative bile from a clearly disappointed Dan “Bobby” Moore. The player manager would soon have far more to complain about, as within 2 minutes Benfield were level. Rhys Evans escaped down the right, hit the by-line, sold a lunging defender a dummy and crossed perfectly for PAUL BRAYSON to turn brilliant on the penalty spot and drive it home into the corner of the net. One player has, above all others, been having an inspired spell of late, so fittingly it was SCOTT McCARTHY who pulled away from a statuesque Shildon defence and touched home a delicious Jake Orrell cross that caused mayhem in the corridor of uncertainty.

Shildon weren’t just dazed or shell shocked; they were suffering from full blown post traumatic stress disorder. The visitors were gone; mentally they were already squatting in tepid water in the shower, shaking their heads both in disbelief and to blink out excess Lynx shower gel and wondering how the afternoon had gone from being so right to so wrong in such a short space of time. It could and should have got far worse as, within 30 seconds of each other, Brayson and then McCarthy both went around the jittery Liversedge and hit the ball into the side netting from tight angles. However, it did get worse; in the last-minute SCOTT McCARTHY almost replicated his wonder goal at Ashington, with a curving effort from outside the box that Liversedge was nowhere near. An incredible, brilliant comeback in what must be the home league game of the season, especially as it seemed all home was lost going into the final quarter of the contest. Benfield truly do have hearts like lions.

Man of the Match: Luke Carr

photos

Martyn Tweddle

(Shildon)

Match report

Ian cusack

Website

Steve Boyle

Shildon v NBFC

2 goals from Billy Greuilich-Smith for Shildon allowed the Home team to take all 3 points after a promising start from Newcastle Benfield with Scott McCarthy who has been on fire scoring for Benfield giving the Lions and early lead.

Final score

Shildon 2

NBFC. 1

Newcastle Benfield travelled to Shildon for their second game in two nights with manager Mark Convery making five changes from the team that played Stockton 24hours earlier.Play wasn’t of the highest quality in the first twenty minutes or so although the lions looked the more likely to get a goal and  they did in the 19th minute,a long driven pass down the left wing found SCOTT McCARTHY who just evaded the being offside timing his run to perfection although the Shildon back four and management team were not so convinced.Advancing forward the Benfield striker who had found a new goal scoring streak with his third goal in a row did well to hold off Marc Ellison the Shildon central defender before sliding the ball past keeper Nick Liversedge to make the score 1-0 to Benfield. This was a deserved lead and they came close to adding on two occassions, and McCarthy was again involved when he received a throw in from Dylan McEvoy to turn to hit a fine shot just wide of the Shildon goalpost.Despite having fewer goal scoring opportunities Shildon got on level terms in the 35th minute,patient build up down the left wing saw a fine cross into the Benfield penalty area was met  by the  head of BILLY GREULICH – SMITH who directed his header past the desparing Dan Nimmons dive to make the score1-1.

Benfield came back strongly and  came close in the 38th minute when another strong run from McCarthy saw him play in Dylan McEvoy his shot was well saved by the Shildon goalkeeper Nick Liversedge and he produced another fine save again three minutes later with Dylan McEvoy again being denied, this time it was from a free kick 20 yards out which looked destined to fly into the goal at the near post but for Liversedge’s intervention.

The halftime whistle soon came with the scores level @ 1-1 although Benfield had the better of the half.

The second half had only moved forward  5 minutes when Shildon should have taken the lead, a strong run down the right wing by the experienced James Harwood saw him plant a great cross onto the head of team mate Billy Greulich- Smith who under no pressure headed wide of the Benfield goal.

From the goal kick Benfield broke forward and in a quick breakaway Jack Devlin came very close to putting the visitors in front shooting inches wide.

Shildon had a big call for a penalty in the 52nd minute, a long ball down the middle of the pitch saw the Benfield keeper Dan Mullen run forward to collect the ball and he then collided with Matty Watters with a huge appeal for a penalty which was turned  down by referee Chris Keightley.

Although Benfield had had the better of the first half in terms of possession and shooting chances it was Shildon who were starting to boss the second half, in the 66th minute the visitors conceded a silly free kick out on the left wing and from free kick the ball was half cleared out to Shildon’s Sam Hodgson who struck a  strong effort to see keeper Dan Mullen make a good save.Within a minute good work down the right wing by Shildon’s skipper James Harwood saw him advance to the by line to produce a brilliant low cross which just evaded Adam Gell who despite throwing himself at the ball just missed making contact to the relief of  the Benfield defenders.

Seventy minutes had passed with Shildon looking the more positive and the most likely to get a second goal,and it nearly came in the manner that the home team were least expecting,Matty Waters who had looked lively thru out flew down the left wing to produce a dangerous low cross which came very close to an own goal when Rhys Evans just managed to get a toe onto the ball and fortunately for the Benfield defender the ball went just past the upright going for  a corner which came to nothing.

The clock had moved on to the 76th minute when Shildon came close to going in front, a quick throw in taken by the alert Matty Watters found Marc Ellison

who powered forward to hit a low drive inches past the post but a minute later they got their reward. Benfield had looked tired due to the amount of matches played in April with this being their fourteenth and the hosts took advantage of this when in the 77th minute a thru ball from Matty Waters found  the  advancing BILLY GREULICH -SMITH who produced a fine finish to put the hosts into a 2-1 lead. It could have been a third goal for Shildon with just a minute of the game to go when an excellent cross from Adam Gell found the dangerous Greulich- Smith head the ball against the Benfield post and away to safety.This brought the game to an end with Shildon having the better of the second half winning 2-1.The second coming of the two teams would be in less than 48 hours when both teams would compete at Benfield on Saturday with the Lions looking for revenge.

MAN OF THE MATCH………ELLIOTT FORBES

Match report Allan Young

Photos Martyn Tweddle

Steve Boyle

NBFC v Stockton Town

Having afforded their visitors a guard of honour and a round of applause for reaching the FA Vase final, at the start of the evening, Newcastle Benfield remained in a similarly benevolent mood for the ensuing 90 minutes. While there is a sense of relief on the one hand that this defeat makes it a mathematical certainty The Lions can’t catch Marske United and suffer the indignity of an unwanted promotion, there is huge disappointment at the performance and such eye-catching displays in the previous two victories over Ashington and West Auckland Town. If the smart money for next season’s Northern League title is on West Auckland coming out as Champions, then there is also a compelling case for Stockton Town to be thought of as the dark horses worth an each way bet.

In the very first minute, as the dazzling sun slowly set over the Bowling Green and East Coast Main Line, Benfield captain Mark Turnbull was called upon to clear a Fred Woodhouse attempt off the line. Thus the pattern for the game was established; Stockton attacked and Benfield defended, sometimes admirably and sometimes desperately. However, there was nothing anyone could have done about the opening goal on 15 minutes, when JAMIE OWENS fired home an unstoppable volley across Andrew Grainger and into the bottom corner of the net. It was a glorious goal. Owens may spend much of his time complaining to his colleagues and the officials, but he is a constant threat. For Benfield, the two chances created in the opening period both fell to Turnbull after Brayson corner kicks. The first saw him spin and volley just wide, while the second saw a looping header drop just the wrong side of the post.

After the break, despite the introduction of the hard-running Josh Scott, Benfield were forced further and further back by Stockton. On the hour, MAX CRAGGS doubled the away side’s lead with a well taken free kick, given after Turnbull was harshly adjudged to have raised his foot in a skirmish over a loose ball. Substitute JOE CARTER made it 3-0 on 70 minutes, when collecting a long punt from the back by Stockton keeper Liam Jordan and benefitting from a lucky ricochet from Andrew Grainger, to give him the simple chance of stroking the loose ball home. SCOTT McCARTHY has been in great form of late and he came off the bench to reduce the arrears. Purposefully striding forward, with the Stockton defence retreating, he fired a superb strike with his left foot past Jordan. The keeper got the better of their next contest, standing firm to block an effort when McCarthy was through on goal. From this Stockton broke and FRED WOODHOUSE evaded several challenges before shooting viciously past Grainger in the last minute, to make the final score Benfield 1 Stockton Town 4. After a 4-0 thumping down there in October, this result was not a whole heap better. Anyway, one more sleep and it’s Shildon away…

Match report view from

Ian cusack

NBFC v West Auckland

NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 1 WEST AUCKLAND TOWN 0

Perhaps one of the most unfortunate side effects of the fixture backlog for this season has been the fact that when games are finally played, they occur with such regularity that the spectator has little time to draw breath and reflect on what has been seen. Scarcely two days after a superb display of controlled, possession based football that had swept Ashington aside in the second period at Woodhorn Lane, Benfield were back in action against a thoroughly excellent West Auckland Town side, who had such riches available to them that they could afford the luxury of leaving Alex Francis on the bench until 30 minutes to go. Players of the calibre of Michael McKeown, Adam Mitchell, Lewis Dodds, Nathan Fisher and Amar Purewal are a treat to watch and so this victory, based on adventurous attacking intent for an hour and thirty minutes of dogged, and indeed desperate, defending, should be celebrated as much as the famous 3-0 thumping handed out to West by a rampant Benfield side back in November 2014.

For the opening exchanges, the main focus was on the tremendous work rate and inventive array of passing courtesy of the all action Adam Mitchell. Many in the ground thought he’d opened the scoring, but he had been denied by a sprawling Andy Grainger, who forced the ball into the side netting at his near post. For Benfield Joe Hailes and Josh Scott were both running their blood to water, with lung bursting runs to create danger and one end and snuff out the opposition threat at the other. Scott McCarthy, fresh from his wonder goal at Ashington, was also heavily involved and could have put Benfield ahead when Jake Orrell put a sumptuous cross on his head. Sadly his flicked effort went wide, but this incident was the start of a period of utter dominance by The Lions. Moments later the decisive goal was scored. McCarthy crossed low and hard from the left side of the area, completing eluding the visiting defence, to allow PAUL BRAYSON to appear unchecked at the back post for a close range tap-in. Seconds later Brayson was at it again, finishing off a rebound following a low effort from Joe Hailes that struck the inside of the post with West keeper Shane Bland beaten. Sadly, the offside flag was raised to curtail home celebrations. Brayson was twice further inches from doubling Benfield’s lead before the break. On 39 minutes, he collected a loose ball in midfield, drove forward and flashed a drive just over the angle of post and bar. Finally, on 43 minutes he chipped a free kick onto the head of Lewis Scorgie, who was unlucky to see the ball smack the bar and be ushered away.

Immediately from the restart, it really should have been 2-0. Josh Scott wove down the left and fired in a dangerous ball that Scott McCarthy deflected onto the underside of the bar. If VAR were to exist at Northern League level, we would have had a decisive answer as to whether it crossed the line; as it was, the officials said to play on and the chance was gone. Soon after West introduced Alex Francis and the balance of play shifted decidedly to the other end of the pitch. On the hour Nathan Fisher turned beautifully and fired in a strong effort from 12 yards that Andy Grainger did well to block for a corner. This was only a prelude to an absolutely astonishing stop from Purewal. The tall striker worked space on the right hand side of the area and fired a low shot that appeared to be arrowing to the far corner, until Grainger miraculously spread himself to stop a ball that already seemed to be past him, to ensure he had a second consecutive clean sheet and that Benfield picked up a notable maximum set of points against a team who will surely start next season as favourites for the Northern League title.

Man of the Match: Scott McCarthy

Match Report

Ian Cusack

Photos/website

Steve Boyle

NBFC v Ashington

ASHINGTON 0 NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 2

The traditionally British obsession with the weather has permeated the body politic of the Northern League. Only a fortnight ago, 4 months of unending rain and unseasonal snow blasts had seemingly conspired to prevent some grounds from hosting any football for the foreseeable future. Now, as spring has finally sprung and there are more pairs of shorts among the crowd than the players, a few days of solid sunshine has rendered many pitches as adamantine as concrete. Thus was the case with Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane complex, where the groundsman had actually watered the pitch on Friday, though not to any discernible impact as the impacted earth beneath the grass was packed solid, resulting in the kind of variable bounce that makes fools of even those with normally impeccable technique on the ball.

Consequently, the first half was a dismal spectacle; dreary, low-quality football played on a surface akin to a crazy paved driveway. It took 14 minutes for the first effort of note on goal, when Josh Scott tested Ashington keeper Conor Grant’s reflexes, stinging his palms with a venomous shot that the home custodian fended away. This was a rare moment of attacking intent during a somnolent opening period when it appeared to the 178 watching the game that this end of season encounter had nothing really at stake, other than cementing 8th place in the table. It recalled a game at Sam Smith’s between the two sides on 23rd April 2005 that ended 0-0, which was possibly the only game I’ve ever attended where neither side had an effort on goal in the entire 90 minutes. However, at least we were trying to score; on 21 minutes Luke Carr’s excellent low cross was met at the far post by the arriving Jake Orrell. Sadly though, he was unable to turn the bouncing ball home and skied his effort. On 41 minutes, Ashington had their only effort on goal of the first half; the amusingly coiffured Jake Turnbull smashed an effort into the side netting, which confused many of the home supporters who thought it was gone in. It hadn’t, and we reached the interval with a blank scoresheet.

Over the half time cuppa, both sets of club officials bemoaned the sterility of the fare on offer and shared the assumption we’d see no goals all game. Benfield made liars of us all, with a superb second half display that kept the Colliers at arm’s length and allowed us to collect a 10th away win of the season with the greatest of ease. Within 2 minutes of the resumption, Joe Hailes had put the Lions ahead. Great hold up play in the box by Paul Brayson saw him feed Josh Scott, who drove to the dead ball line and pulled a precise ball back for the on-rushing Hailes to tap home. A great goal that seemingly came out of nothing and caused Colliers player boss Steve Bowey to introduce himself to the fray. Unlike the pre-Christmas encounter at Sam Smith’s, when The Colliers waltzed away with the points after battering us 3-0 and Bowey ran the show from midfield, the thrice former Lion had little discernible impact on the game. Benfield almost made it 2-0 on 75 minutes when substitute Scott McCarthy fed Orrell on the edge of the box and the former Spennymoor lad saw his shot deflected inches wide, with Grant a flat-footed observer. However, McCarthy was soon to make an indelible mark on the game with a contender for Benfield’s goal of the season. Picking up a loose ball about 25 yards from goal, he looked up and curled a delicious, bending effort right into the top corner, past the despairing leap of Grant, to seal the points and garner a deserved standing ovation that was only bettered for volume by the news of Burton’s win on Wearside.

Man of the Match: Elliott Forbes

Match report Ian Cusack

Photos Paul Mcfeeley/Luke Vinton

Website Steve Boyle

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