Northern League Division One
16th April 2018
Newcastle Benfield v Dunston UTS
Attendance 124
Report by Billy Montague


Dunston UTS made the short journey to Sam Smith’s Park for their Ebac Northern League Division One fixture at the start of a hectic run-in to the end of the season. Several players arrived late due to traffic chaos on Tyneside and their match preparation was further disrupted with the absence of central defensive pairing of Michael Hall and Ben Pollock causing a major re-shuffle. Dan Halliday joined Dan Capewell as their replacements with Liam Marrs switching to left-back and Callum Elliott continuing at right-back. Newcastle Benfield named a very strong line-up with a prolific strike-force featuring Jake Orrell, Paul Brayson and Luke Carr.

Benfield: Grainger, Evans, Martin, Nisbet (Scott), Turnbull (Dummett), Scorgie, Orrell (Devlin), Forbes, Brayson, Carr, Hailes. Subs not used: McAvoy, Nimmins.

Dunston UTS: Harrison, Elliott C, Marrs, Lowther (Stafford), Capewell, Halliday, Pearson, Burrell, Fitzpatrick, Heslop (Thear K), Thear L (Elliott J). Subs not used: Grant, Faiola.

Dunston made a confident start to the game but were unable to force any clear chances and it was the home side who looked dangerous on the break in the 5th minute when Dan Capewell was forced to hack away a Jake Orrell shot. Two minutes later Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger had to be at his best to pluck a Liam Marrs cross out of the air. Both teams were hammering away at each other in midfield with the game being contested at a frantic pace. Scoring chances were at a premium but some great work on the right by Dale Burrell saw him cut inside two defenders but his low drive scraped past the far post with Grainger beaten. More forceful attacking play on Dunston’s right 4 minutes later resulted in a dangerous Dan Lowther corner-kick which was met by a Dan Halliday header that flew just past the angle.

In the 32nd minute a Dale Burrell pile-driver from the corner of the box was blocked but the referee waved away strong appeals for hand-ball. Benfield were playing on the break and were attempting to connect with some clever runs by the wily Paul Brayson. On 37 minutes some good work by Mark Fitzpatrick led to a scramble in the Benfield six-yard box with Michael Pearson just failing to force home. In the next minute Fitzpatrick beat two men and linked up with Pearson to square along the edge of the box to Liam Thear who blazed over. Joe Hailes should have done better for the home side on 40 minutes when he headed over when well placed. Just before the break Paul Brayson forced a good save from Niall Harrison.

Half-Time Score:  Benfield  0   Dunston UTS 0

Dunston made a good start to the second-half but almost fell behind in bizarre circumstances in the 48th minute when Luke Carr mis-kicked a speculative cross from the right. The ball swerved in the air, wrong-footing Dunston keeper Niall Harrison and the ball went over his head and struck the bar and was cleared by the Dunston defence. After this let-off Dunston went straight back to the other end and almost scored from another Dan Lowther corner that was met by a Scott Heslop header that was well saved by Grainger.

The keeper pulled off an even better save on 52 minutes when he tipped a Mark Fitzpatrick header onto the under-side of the bar and the ball was hacked to safety by Mark Turnbull. The ever-dangerous Paul Brayson made Dunston pay in the 56th minute when he latched onto a through-ball and drew a good save from Niall Harrison but the unlucky keeper saw the rebound fall back to Brayson. His second shot sneeked in off the inside of the far post even though he had scuffed the effort. 1 – 0 to Benfield.

Dunston replied from the kick-off with a brilliant run by Mark Fitzpatrick ending with a set-up to Liam Thear but an unfortunate bobble prevented him from beating Grainger from inside the box. In the 59th minute the keeper was in action again when he made a good save to parry a Scott Heslop header from a Callum Elliott cross. Elliott attacked again on 62 minutes when he made ground before slipping a good pass to Liam Thear who beat three defenders before cleverly setting up Mark Fitzpatrick who slotted low past Grainger. 1 – 1.

Benfield almost regained the lead in the 66th minute when Paul Brayson made a break through the middle and fed Luke Carr who sent his low shot across goal and wide of the target. Three minutes later, it was Dunston who went close to grabbing the lead when Michael Pearson forced another Grainger save with a rasping shot. On 82 minutes a forceful run from Dale Burrell took him to the edge of the home box but his powerful low shot skidded narrowly past the far post. Two minutes later a clever trick took substitute Kelvin Thear past two defenders in the Benfield box but he was unable to find the met with his effort. On 86 minutes Burrell went close again but this time his shot flew just over the bar.

A Luke Carr free-kick from just outside of the Dunston box went straight at Niall Harrison on 88 minutes and a minute later

a good run by Dunston’s Jack Elliott saw a low shot just miss the goal. Two minutes into stoppage time, Dunston were awarded a free-kick 30-yards from goal which substitute Jake Stafford sent into the Benfield box. When the ball was cleared Stafford was clearly fouled by Joshua Scott but the referee failed to give any decision and the loose ball was

played upfield to Jack Devlin who strode on before stroking past Harrison into the net for an undeserved winner. 2 – 1.

Full-Time Score:  Benfield  2   Dunston UTS 1

Dunston's Man of the Match: Dan Halliday, Dan shaded the vote in a position that is unusual for him against some very good forwards. The whole team played very well and didn’t deserve to end up losing the match. The lack of an obvious decision by a Match Official in stoppage time cost them a point.

Man of the Match, Dan Halliday