Newcastle Benfield travelled the short distance up the A1 for what was expected to be a tough game against the current F.A. Vase holders Morpeth Town. Morpeth are still in with a chance of winning the Northern league although due to their Vase run this season it meant that they have played 5 or 6 games less than some teams above them making the task ahead very difficult.
Benfield almost got off to the perfect start when in the 3rd minute the ball was won in midfield by Tom McNamee who then played in Paul Brayson. Although the striker was in with a great shooting opportunity surprisingly he passed the ball to John Campbell who saw his shot hit the Morpeth bar but it wouldn’t have counted had he scored as the linesman had his flag raised for offside; It was the home team that nearly scored in the 5th minute, Ben Sayer floated in a free kick to the far post from way out on the Morpeth right wing, although there was a shout from the Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger for keepers ball Lewis Scorgie got to it just before his keeper with the ball hitting the cross bar and away for a corner. In the 9th minute Benfield were awarded a free kick just outside of the Morpeth penalty area; up stepped Paul Brayson to drive the ball inches wide of the Morpeth goal with their keeper Karl Dryden rooted to the spot.
It was the turn of the home team as the clock reached the 14th minute to nearly open the scoring. The Morpeth captain Sean Taylor progressed down the Benfield left doing well to beat two Benfield defenders before producing an excellent back heel into the path of Liam Henderson who saw his well struck shot bring out a good save from the Benfield keeper who parried his shot but the save by Grainger from the rebound was even better again saving from Henderson.
Benfield were still in the game despite Grainger being the more active of the keepers. Scott McCarthy did well in the 17th minute driving forward to supply the ball into John Campbell who controlled the ball advanced forward to hit a strong shot well saved by Morpeth keeper Karl Dryden. Within a minute it was the turn of the Benfield keeper to keep the scores level at 0-0, Joe Walton controlled a long pass from the right wing and turned to hit a fierce drive on goal only for Grainger to bring off a great save for a corner. From the dead ball kick Walton was again unfortunate not to score when header when his header hit the post and was scrambled clear by the Benfield defence. Morpeth striker Mark Davison can count himself unfortunate not to open the scoring when in 20th minute an excellent run down the wing saw James Novak produce a fine cross to the far post onto the head of his team mate but unfortunately for Davison his header crashed off the bar and away to safety.
The opening goal of the game came along in the 26th minute of the match. Matty Cornish and John Campbell combined to allow Campbell the chance to advance to the by line before hitting a low cross to the far post to be met by the diving figure of SCOTT McCARTHY who stooped low to head the ball into an empty net to make it 1-0 to Benfield. The home team were stung by the visitors goal and on the half hour play maker Ben Sayer put a terrific move together out on the Benfield left flank; he played three 1-2’s before hitting a well struck shot just clearing the Benfield cross bar. In the 32nd minute Newcastle Benfield had their star of the first half Andrew Grainger yellow carded for allegedly handling the ball out side of his area; a decision he robustly denied but referee Chris Ellis stood by his decision. Morpeth levelled the score in the 34th minute, Ben Sayers who had been the pick of the Morpeth team being behind most of the good pieces of play his team had put together provided a great cross into the Benfield goal area which was met by an equally great header from MARK DAVISON who saw his bullet header flash into the Benfield goal making the score 1-1 which it was at half time.
Whilst Newcastle Benfield had looked dangerous on the break it was Morpeth who were having more shots on goal with Andrew Grainger being up to everything that the home team could throw at him. In the 54th minute he produced a great save from Joe Walton who had got on the end of a cross from Sean Taylor; from the cross he was bewildered to find the visitors’ keeper parry his shot onto the post, with Tom McNamee finishing the clearance to safety. Returning after injury Stephen Tobin did well in the 57th minute to clear the ball for a corner under pressure from Davison; the corner was quickly taken with Benfield slightly losing concentration and allowing Mark Davison to hit a well struck effort only to see Grainger pull off yet another great save.
The turning point of the game came in the 62nd minute, when a through ball saw the Benfield keeper rush out to try and clear the ball, but he only succeeded in fouling Liam Henderson just outside of his penalty box. Having already been cautioned he then received his second yellow followed by a red card. With having no replacement on the bench striker John Campbell took over the goal keeping role leaving a huge hole in an attacking sense for Newcastle Benfield. Morpeth keeper Karl Dryden was called into action in the 67th minute to make a save from a well struck free kick taken by Paul Brayson after a foul on substitute Matty Fisher.
With Benfield down to ten men and without a keeper it looked like it would be a matter of time before the home team got a second goal and it came in the 69th minute, from a quick breakaway the ball was transferred to LIAM HENDERSON who drove forward to drive the ball in at the near post giving Campbell no chance of saving. Campbell then pulled off a good save with his feet in the 73rd minute after Joe Walton got on the end of a cross from substitute Denver Morris but he had no chance in saving a third goal for Morpeth a minute later. Liam Henderson was then the provider sliding a pass into JOE WALTON who made no mistake driving the ball low into the bottom left hand corner of the net making the score 3-1 to Morpeth which was the final score.
NEWCASTLE BENFIELD 5 ASHINGTON 2
There is nothing worse than having to play the same team twice within a week and this was an even worse scenario, as the teams had clashed in the league cup four days earlier with Newcastle Benfield running out winners 3-2, with a late Paul Brayson winner. This familiarity can lead to complacency from the winners or give a sense of defiance and a stronger will to the opposition; it was the third meeting of the teams this season with Benfield having won the previous two.
Both teams made changes from Tuesday’s match with an injury to ex Benfield player Paul Antony, seeing previously cup tied player Dale Pearson selected in his place. Newcastle Benfield made two changes with cup tied John Campbell replacing Josh Scott and Alex Berhan coming in for the injured Callum Duncan. In contrast to the last game this in the first half was bereft of anything exciting or worth writing about, apart from a near miss and a goal. The near miss came in the 7th minute, when an excellent pass down the wing from Ashington’s Dale Pearson found Ben Harmison, who quickly laid the ball off into the path of Ryan McGorrigan. The Ashington striker produced a fine low cross just put wide of the Benfield goal by the in rushing Kyle Downey. The goal came in the 33rd minute and it went to the home team. After a foul on John Campbell twenty yards out, ace goal scorer PAUL BRAYSON stepped up and smashed a low drive into the bottom right corner of the net, giving Conor Grant no chance of saving, making the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield, which it was at half time.
Within a minute of the second half Ashington almost got an equalising goal; Shaun Henderson produced a fine cross to the far post with the giant Ben Harmison leaping well to head just wide of the Benfield far post. The 8th minute of the second half saw the second goal of the game and it went again to Benfield. The ball was passed down the wing by Mark Turnbull to Paul Brayson who spotted the run of team mate JOHN CAMPBELL and played a square pass into his path with the Benfield striker hitting the ball home from six yards making it 2-0 to Benfield. A minute later it was three in similar circumstances. Matty Cornish went on a rampaging run down the right wing before passing the ball to Paul Brayson who squared the ball and despite a deflection of an Ashington defender saw his pass reach JOHN CAMPBELL. who tapped the ball into an empty goal to make the score 3-0 to Newcastle Benfield.
The game now looked out of range for Ashington but to their credit they kept attacking and within two minutes reduced the deficit; a free kick out on the Benfield left was swung in to be met by the head of WAYNE BUCHANAN who saw his bullet header fly into the Benfield net giving keeper Andrew Grainger not a hope of saving, making the score 3-1. Sixty three minutes had elapsed when another good Ashington attack brought a decent save out of Grainger. The ball was played down to Ben Harmison who despite being under pressure did well to chest the ball into the stride of Ryan McGorrigan then going for the return to see his shot saved for a corner which was headed clear.
In the 69th minute the Brayson/Campbell combination almost brought a fourth goal for Newcastle Benfield. Mark Turnbull passed the ball to John Campbell who after controlling the ball cut in to then pass the ball to Brayson who saw his shot blocked. From the block the ball rebounded back to Campbell who was unlucky not to get his hat trick as his shot hit the post and went out for a goal kick. Two more minutes had gone by when, in the seventy first, a fourth goal for Benfield arrived. John Campbell took a free kick from way out on the Ashington left, which was met by the head of SCOTT McCARTHY who saw his glancing header go into the net via the far post to make the score 4-1 to Newcastle Benfield.
Benfield were now in control and had several chances to get even more goals and were dominating play. They had another shooting chance in the 74th minute. Dylan McEvoy played a precise ball down the line to find John Campbell and the Benfield forward hit an impressive curling shot but Conor Grant was up to the task pulling off an equally impressive save. The Ashington keeper was again called into action within minute. Brayson chipped the ball onto the head of Scott McCarthy who headed the ball towards goal to see the keeper save his effort and Grant was up to the task again saving the rebound. The seventy ninth minute came along with John Campbell desperate to get his first hat trick for Benfield since his recent return from Newton Aycliffe; had he not been as desperate he would after combining with Josh Scott played a pass into the Ashington penalty area where he had three team mates waiting but he got greedy and saw his shot blocked to safety.
Ashington were thrown a lifeline in the 82nd minute, Shaun Henderson played a low ball into the Benfield penalty area, whereupon the ball bounced up and hit Tom McNamee on the arm with referee Jonathan Urwin awarding a penalty. Up stepped KYLE DOWNEY who absolutely smashed the ball high into the roof of the net giving Andrew Grainger not a hope in hell of saving making the score 4-2 to Newcastle Benfield.
Newcastle Benfield then with ten minutes to go made the first Soup Substitution in the history of the Northern League when CAMPBELL was replaced by BAXTER. It was the turn of Benfield substitute Josh Scott to show his prowess when he after getting the ball on the half way line flew down the wing outpacing Shaun Henderson before delivering a dangerous cross which was just cleared away from his team mates. Time was running out for Ashington with only a minute of ordinary time remaining but it was the home team who in fact got the last goal of the game; a poor back pass by Shaun Henderson found an equally poor clearance from goal keeper Conor Grant his clearance was seized on by MATTY CORNISH who advanced forward before passing the ball into the net making the score 5-2 to Newcastle Benfield.
In the last minute of the game a good run by Josh Scott found him passing to Paul Brayson who in turn passed the ball onto one of the SOUPER subs in the shape of Michael Baxter who was unlucky to see his lob shot just clear the Ashington cross bar, leaving the score at 5-2 to Newcastle Benfield which was the final score.
Newcastle Benfield: Grainger, Turnbull, McEvoy, McNamee, Scorgie, Dummett, Berhan (Fisher), Cornish, Brayson, Campbell (Baxter), McCarthy (Scott)
Substitutes: Tobin, Esdaille
Man of the Match: Campbell
Fantastic news for Jack Devlin a product of Catalyst for soccer and now a former player of Newcastle Benfield has signed for premier league team Stoke City.
We wish him all the best in his future.