Luncarty F.C. were the visitors to Sam Smith’s Park having made the long journey from Perth in Scotland. The first fifteen minutes went swiftly by with neither team looking as if they would score, but that changed in the seventeenth minute when Newcastle Benfield got the opening goal of the game. It came when a cross from Sam Reid took out all of the visitors’ defence, allowing Ryan McGorrigan the opportunity to side foot a left foot volley past Luncarty ‘keeper Mike Patton, making the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield.
Twenty-five minutes passed when a poorly timed tackle by Luncarty midfielder Lewis Mackie caused an injury to Benfield’s Lewis Layton, but nothing came of the resulting free kick which cleared the Luncarty crossbar. Despite being a goal down, you couldn’t fault the visitors for effort and they came close to an equaliser in the thirty-second minute after a great run and shot by Olly Hamilton, which was denied by the Benfield ‘keeper Andrew Grainger.
With halftime approaching in a closely contested game, the 40th minute brought about the second goal of the game which again went to the home team. A strong, swift move down the Luncarty right flank saw the ball come into the possession of Eddie Thomas, who showed great composure in controlling the ball and slotting it into the net to make the score 2-0 to The Lions.
With halftime fast approaching the game was looking comfortable for Benfield, but this began to change in the 42nd minute, when a back-pass to Benfield ‘keeper Andrew Grainger was mis-controlled, allowing Scott Sutherland the opportunity to dispossess him and place the ball into an empty goal making the score 2-1. This finished the score at the end of the first-half.
The second-half was only three minutes old when Luncarty came close to getting an equaliser after the ball was squared across the Benfield penalty area, with the Benfield trial goalkeeper pulling off a brilliant save to deny a second goal for the visitors. It was then the turn of Benfield to come close to another goal when a terrific strike by Eddie Thomas crashed off the Luncarty post and, fortunately for the visitors, away out of danger.
This near miss at the Luncarty goal didn’t seem to deter the visitors and they again came close to scoring in the 53rd minute, when a move down the Benfield left saw interplay by Lewis Mackie, who’s cross just evaded team-mate Olly Hamilton. Luncarty were starting to look dangerous going forward, and the Benfield ‘keeper had to be on top of his game to deny an equaliser.
Benfield were then indebted to their young stand in goalkeeper in the 72nd minute, when he brought off a brilliant save to deny a header from 5 yards by Luncarty ‘s Scott Sutherland. The shot looked bound for the net only for the trial keeper to pull of a cracking stop.
78 minutes had gone by when Benfield thought they had a third goal. A good move down the Luncarty right flank saw the ball fall into the possession of Dennis Knight who rifled the ball home for what he thought was a third goal for Benfield. Much to his dismay, the linesman was flagging for offside.
Despite being a goal down, the visitors were pushing for an equaliser, and their persistence paid off in the 82nd minute when a cross was headed clear only to drop at the feet of Lewis Mackie, who crashed the ball home from 30-yards giving the young keeper no chance of saving. With 10 minutes left the visitors had levelled the score – 2-2.
Time was running out, but the first minute of added on time brought a third and deciding goal for Newcastle Benfield, a cross to the near post was put out for a corner to the visitors. When the ball was cleared away, the home team were given the opportunity to break swiftly away with Layton Watts playing Dennis Knight in who then saw his strike parried out by the Luncarty keeper Mike Patton. Unfortunately for the visiting ‘keeper, the ball fell to Paul Brayson who tapped the ball home for the winning goal.
Soon the final whistle went, with Benfield winning 3-2 against a good side with nice people who are welcome back again anytime.
Reporter … Allan Young.