Whickham were the opposition for what should be a close game between one of Benfield’s nearest neighbours. Benfield came close to scoring as early as the 2nd minute when Eddie Thomas was played down the Whickham left flank before cutting in to have a decent shot finish inches wide of the post.
It wasn’t long however before the first goal came in the 6th minute, and it went Benfield’s way. A cross to the far post from Eddie Thomas found team-mate Ben Dibbs -Fuller in the Whickham six-yard box and he confidently put the ball into the Whickham net making the score 1-0 to Newcastle Benfield.
Less than 10 minutes later it was 2-0 to Benfield. A shot was parried by the Whickham keeper Nathan Harker to find the ever-alert Paul Brayson who side footed the ball home from close range to make it 2-0.
It could have been two goals for the master goal scorer in the 16th minute when he pounced on a poor back pass from Whickham’s captain Dale Burrell, but this time he fluffed his lines and his shot ended over the crossbar.
21 minutes had passed by when Whickham came close to open their scoring. A ball down the line looked easy for Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger to clear, but a miskick caused confusion in the Benfield penalty area before it was cleared out for a corner. From the corner Whickham were unfortunate not to reduce their deficit, with Steven Hall rising well to head the ball inches past the Benfield goalpost.
Although two goals down, Whickham were not out of the game, and it took good defending by Benfield’s Brad Varga to deny a shooting opportunity.
Whickham’s goalkeeper Nathan Harker was called into action in the 38th minute when Paul Brayson found himself in the unfamiliar midfield position, supplying team-mate Ben Dibbs-Fuller with a pass into the near post which produced a good save for a corner by Nathan Harker.
Newcastle Benfield had a let off a minute later, when the usually reliable goalkeeper Andrew Grainger came to collect a Whickham corner but missed the ball. Fortunately, defender Eddie Thomas coming to his rescue by clearing off the line.
Despite being 2 goals down, credit must go to the Whickham team who never gave up trying to reduce the deficit and twice came close. Firstly, in the 40th minute, a centre into the Benfield six-yard box by Scott Robson caused confusion before Nick Green cleared the ball out of danger; with the clock gradually running down to halftime Benfield defended well to leaving it 2-0 to the visitors.
Within the first 10 minutes of the second half, Benfield had 2 chances, and on each occasion Paul Brayson was involved. In the 46th minute, what looked like a very close decision for offside which went against the Benfield striker. The next effort in the 47th minute came when a long pass out of defence gave a shooting chance to Brayson but he hit it high and handsome past the Whickham goal.
Although Benfield had the first shot of the second half, it was Whickham who came out the brightest and boldest, with Benfield ‘keeper Andrew Grainger having to make a good save in the 48th minute to deny Whickham’s Joey Smith from pulling a goal back.
3 minutes later and Grainger was again called into action when a great long ball out of defence found Whickham’s Nathan Greenwood, but Grainger was alert to the cause, saving for a corner which came to nothing. Whickham’s pressure finally came to fruition in the 54th minute after a corner was not cleared with a shot by Dom Agnew’s deflected goal bound with an attempted hand ball by Benfield’s Sam Reid failing, before it rolled slowly into the net to make the score 2-1.
Benfield came close to getting a third on the hour mark when a scramble in the Whickham penalty area produced a fine save from Nathan Harker saving down low at the right post. Newcastle Benfield regained their two-goal advantage in the 65th minute. It came when a long free kick was controlled by Paul Brayson out on the right wing and squared to find Cameron Gascoigne in the centre of the six-yard box, who side footed the ball into the net making the score line 3-1 to Benfield.
It was just past the half-hour mark with Benfield comfortably in the lead that Ben Dibb- Fuller came close to increasing the lead curling his effort just past the post. Little had been required from Benfield in a goal scoring sense to go and chase another effort, but in an unusual way they came close to getting a fourth goal when a strong clearance by George Priest hit Benfield’s Dibb- Fuller with the ball flying towards the Whickham goal producing a great save for a corner via the crossbar which came to nothing.
Only a minute of the game remained when Benfield were indebted to their goalkeeper Andrew Grainger who brought off a brilliant save after a corner was met by Scott Robson. Time then ran out for the home team with Newcastle Benfield being deserved winners 3-1.Man of the Match … Paul Brayson.