Newcastle Benfield vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

There was double joy for Ashington as they wrapped up a comfortable victory over Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smiths Park on Saturday.

Goals in the first half from Karl Ross and Lewis Suddick put the Colliers in control and when Luke Salmon added a third within the opening quarter hour of the second period, the game was effectively in the bag.

The sides are now level pegging at 2-2 after playing each other no fewer than four times during the campaign with the Wansbeck side claiming a league double whilst the Lions won both contests in their Carlsberg FA Cup and Buildbase FA Vase clashes.

But the margin of victory also brought a highly impressive statistic as Ian Skinner’s side went to the top of the Ebac Northern League’s first division scoring charts after taking their goals tally to 74 and leapfrogging Consett.

Over the years, matches between Ashington and Benfield have usually been tight cagey affairs but in a first period which was flat and low key, it was the Wansbeck side who dominated possession and even more so after Ross then Suddick had found the net in quick succession.

They came close to making a dream start too when Adam Johnson had the ball in the net in the fifth minute but his celebrations were cut short as the assistant raised his flag for offside.

Joe Robson lifted over Benfield’s first opportunity then Aidan Haley had a shot turned aside by ‘keeper Adam McHugh.

Ben Sampson drove over on the half volley following a corner on the left but in the 23rd minute, the Colliers got their noses in front after a well constructed move down the right flank.

Suddick flicked the ball over the top of the defender to the over lapping Liam Doyle and when the full back pulled it back to the edge of the area, Johnson teed up Ross who blasted home right footed.

Similarly ten minutes later it was a lovely ball across by Salmon which caused problems in the home rearguard and after the ball had glanced off a defender, Suddick got the final touch to force it home for his fourth goal in six matches.

Early in the second period, Sampson found Dean Briggs whose effort from 25 yards was parried by Benfield’s long serving ‘keeper Andrew Grainger.

However in the 57th minute, Salmon got his sides third. Suddick’s free kick into the area led to a scramble and when Harmison flicked the ball forward, there was hesitation in the Benfield defence which allowed Salmon to prod home.

Ashington continued to show plenty of endeavour and Grainger was brought into the action again on 64 minutes when he repelled a shot from full back Jordan Summerly.

Minutes later McHugh pushed the ball around from an effort by home substitute Mackenzie Sharpe and Benfield’s day was summed up ten minutes from time when ex Ashington striker Ryan McGorrigan pounced on an error which put him clean through but fired a tame shot straight at McHugh.


Newcastle Benfield vs Ashington

By Brian Bennett

It was akin to a story which could have been associated in the fictitious ‘Roy of the Rovers’ comic strip series as Newcastle Benfield came back against all the odds to claim a second FA competition victory this season over Ashington.

Five weeks ago, the Colliers were 2-1 up against the Lions in their FA Cup clash at Woodhorn Lane before eventually losing the tie 4-3.

On Saturday the Wansbeck side led 2-0 and were cruising just after the hour mark before they inexplicably capitulated.

Despite being reduced to nine men when two of their players were sin binned for ten minute periods for separate incidents, Benfield’s talismanic striker Paul Brayson reduced the deficit – and the home side seized the initiative. The Sam Smiths Park outfit then equalised through Sam Walton before completing the turnaround when Lewis Scorgie netted what proved to be the winner.

Consequently Ashington – and their supporters – were left numb with manager Ian Skinner saying afterwards that he was “speechless” following the events which unfolded.

It may have been a five goal thriller – but it was also the proverbial game of two halves as Ashington had a strong wind on their backs in the first half and the hosts had the same after the break.

Yet it had all been positive from the visitors who dominated the opening half from the first whistle.

Inside the first minute, Tom Bramley, Paul Robinson and Jordan Summerly linked but the latter delivered a weak cross which was cut out.

Shortly afterwards, Ashington forced a corner on the left and from Danny Anderson’s delivery, Ben Harmison guided a header narrowly over.

Benfield’s only threat had stemmed from a misplaced header by Summerly which gave Brayson possession but the striker scuffed his shot and ‘keeper Karl Dryden gathered with ease.

Back came the Colliers with Robinson having a shot collected by Andrew Grainger at the second attempt then the ‘keeper fisting out an effort from Dean Briggs.

Again on the break, former Collier Jake Turnbull cut inside from the left and saw his fierce shot held by Dryden.

Within seconds, play switched to the other end and a swift one-two between Ben Sampson and Briggs released the former into the area but he was blocked out by Grainger.

On the half hour, Bramley headed over but two minutes later, Benfield’s Brayson missed a golden opportunity to put his side ahead after the home side had been awarded a penalty for a harsh handball offence.

Brayson stepped forward but blasted the spot kick high over the bar.

Five minutes later, Ashington swept into the lead through Robinson.

Karl Ross picked up a loose pass in midfield and found Ryan McGorrigan who in turn passed to Robinson who slotted the ball wide of Grainger.

Benfield had a spell before the break where Cameron Gascoigne had a shot blocked by Bramley before a rasping effort from Aiden Haley struck the top of the crossbar and went over.

The home side began the second half on the front foot. Haley found Gascoigne whose attempt at the near post was scrambled away by Dryden.

The start of what was to be a frenetic and eventful period right through to the final whistle, began in the 53rd minute when Ritchie Slaughter was sent to the sin bin for dissent and within a minute, the Lions surrounded referee Ryan Kendall after he had pointed to the spot for a second time in the contest – on this occasion to award the Colliers a penalty for a foul on Briggs.

McGorrigan made no mistake sending Grainger the wrong way.

Two minutes later, home skipper Mark Turnbull joined Slaughter in the sin bin again for dissent before two key turning points arrived on the hour.

The first came when Harmison played the ball into Briggs who went around Grainger but saw his shot cleared off the line by Scorgie then a cross by Robinson just eluded McGorrigan.

Still down to nine men, Benfield found a way back into the contest in the 61st minute when Brayson was left unattended inside the area and drove a sweet half volley wide of Dryden and into the back of the net.

Summerly, Briggs and Anderson joined forces in a nice move but it ended with Anderson hitting his shot straight at Grainger.

Back to a full compliment of players, Benfield left Ashington – who had lost their shape – shell shocked as they scored twice in five minutes to edge in front.

The equaliser came in the 72nd minute when Brayson pulled the ball back from the right. It was touched forward by a home player to Sam Walton who from almost on the line slotted in.

The all important winner arrived after Dryden had pushed over a 25 yarder by Slaughter.

Gascoigne’s corner drifted over Dryden and when the ball was played back in, Scorgie headed into the roof of the net.

McGorrigan then squared the ball for Briggs whose shot was grasped by Grainger and at the other end, substitute Jake Thompson broke free down the right but was denied by Dryden.

In the closing stages, Ashington pushed Harmison up front and he almost forced a leveller but his effort was deflected behind for a corner.

In the 90th minute, Haley was sent to the sin bin – but ten-man Benfield saw the game through without any late scares.


Newcastle Benfield vs Ashington