West Auckland were the visitors to Sam Smith’s Park for an expected difficult league game, as it usually is when the two teams meet. West Auckland should have been two up in the first 2 minutes – in the first minute from a corner on the Benfield right flank, it was floated over to be met by West Auckland player James Ellis, this caused concern to the Benfield team as he has proven to be a thorn in the Benfield team’s side as he scores on a regular basis against the Lions. Fortunately for Benfield on this occasion he headed wide of the target missing a good scoring opportunity. A minute later and it could have been 2 up to West Auckland, when from a corner Benfield goalkeeper Andrew Grainger misjudged the flight of the ball, giving a scoring chance to Matty Wade who headed wide of the Benfield goal.
It was the turn of Benfield in the 3rd minute to come close when a good break by Cameron Gascoigne saw him play in in Ben Dibb-Fuller, who saw his effort well defended by Auckland’s Liam Hegarty. The 6th minute brought about a loud appeal from the Benfield team for a penalty, after a shot from Benfield’s Layton Watts who was through on goal was blocked. The Lions were not successful in their appeal.
West Auckland were on top at this time, and it took good defending from Benfield to deny an Auckland attack after a quick break out of defence. West Auckland seemed to be missing scoring chances, as they got in good shooting chances but never really troubled Benfield ‘keeper Andrew Grainger.
They came close again in the 11th minute when a shot from Scott Heslop was deflected out for a corner to West Auckland, but it came to nothing. Another corner went the way of West Auckland in the 14th minute, with them seeming to be in control of the game but of no real threat to the Benfield defence with a reluctance to shoot at goal and wasting chances.
In a rare Benfield attack, Eddie Thomas should have opened the scoring after a quick break, but with a free shot at goal he hit it wide of the Auckland post. A minute later, good defending from West Auckland skipper Gary Brown saw him block a dangerous effort from Ryan McGorrigan. Both teams at this stage were guilty of giving the ball away.
Danger man James Ellis came close in the 22nd minute, but his effort was claimed by the Benfield ‘keeper. It was too and fro, and a minute later a pass from Benfield’s Lewis Leech found Cameron Gascoigne who saw a decent effort saved by West Auckland’s Matty Wilkinson. Good defending in the 29th minute by Auckland’s captain Gary Brown saw him deny Ben Dibb-Fuller after a good run and cross into the Penalty area. The half-hour mark brought a caution for West Auckland’s Liam Potter who, on another day and with another referee, could have been sent off after a poor tackle on Brad Varga.
The game was now even more back and forth, but Benfield were starting to look the most likely side to get a goal, and good defending by the West Auckland captain Gary Brown saw him tackle and clear the ball away from Eddie Thomas after he controlled a fine pass from Cameron Gascoigne.
Halftime was approaching, but with only a minute to go a goal at last arrived, and it went the way of Newcastle Benfield. A breakaway by Nick Green saw him play in Cameron Gascoigne who then passed to Ben Dibb-Fuller, and after controlling the ball he went on a dazzling run before cutting inside to drive the ball past the West Auckland goalkeeper Matty Wilkinson to make the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield. This finished as the half time score.
The second half was only a minute old before the first shooting opportunity came by, and it was a solo effort from Cameron Gascoigne who went on a strong run only to see his shot well blocked by West Auckland defender Gary Brown.
It was only 3 minutes later when another goal was scored, and this time it was the turn of the visitors. A strong attack by West Auckland saw them score after a corner was driven into the near post to find West Auckland’s captain Gary Brown unmarked, and he side footed the ball into the net for the equalising goal making it 1-1.
Even though Benfield took the lead in the first half, West Auckland had more chances to score or shoot. The reverse was the case in the early stages of the second half. After West Auckland scored, Benfield came close to a second goal when good play by Eddie Thomas saw him set up goal scorer Dibbs-Fuller who, after getting in a one-on-one situation with the West Auckland keeper Matthew Wilkinso,n delayed his shot allowing a defender the opportunity to block his final effort.
The hour mark had just passed by when West Auckland won a corner from which excellent defending by Benfield’s Brad Varga saw him win two tackles and clear the ball to safety.
66 minutes had passed by when the third goal of the game arrived. After a mistake in the Auckland defence, Benfield were awarded a corner. A short corner was given with great work to Benfield goal scorer Ben Dibb-Fuller, who passed the ball onto Eddie Thomas who confidently placed the ball past the West Auckland keeper Matt Wilkinson, making the score 2-1 to Newcastle Benfield.
Another 15 minutes elapsed before anything of note occurred. A corner for West Auckland was cleared to find Cameron Gascoigne on the half way line with a free run in on goal and a one-on-one with the Auckland keeper Matt Wilkinson.
The keeper came out on top in that one-on-one situation when he made a good save. Benfield had another good goal scoring chance in the 82nd minute to wrap the game up. A switch of play by Kyle Errington found team-mate Liam McNamara, who then produced a brilliant 40 yard pass to Connor Walker who disappointedly shot wide when in one-on-one with the West Auckland keeper Matt Wilkinson.
This left the score at 2-1 in favour of Newcastle Benfield which was the final score.
Man of the Match … Cameron Gascoigne.