Newcastle Benfield 0 Bishop Auckland 1 – Ebac Northern League Division One:

For the second game within a couple of days of each other, it was another case of points over performance for a team chasing promotion.

Despite being second best for much of the game, especially in the second half, Bishop Auckland found a way to win with an exquisitely taken goal.

For Benfield it was a mixed bag of a game.  For a team with not much to play for, they played with pace and spirit, showing plenty of attacking intent and movement.  On the downside they just lacked a bit of guile and know-how up front, despite all the hard work that their attackers put in.  Work in progress.

As far as the nitty gritty of the game is concerned, it was effort over style, particularly in a disappointing first half.  The highlight of the opening 45 minutes came in the 12th minute when a high ball into the Bishops area was knocked down to Benfield’s Layton Watts who hit a piledriver that keeper Ryan Catterick somehow managed to stop.

Bishops’ final ball lacked quality when they pushed forward.  The only other noteworthy incident was in the 40th minute when Watts intercepted a Bishop Auckland pass just inside the visitors’ half.  He spotted Catterick off his line and tried to lob the ball over him from distance but the keeper was able to track back and gather the ball.

The second half was a much brisker affair, with Benfield very much on the front foot.  They started the half with a couple of attacks down the right and then in the 52nd minute left back Callum Green tried to side foot the ball in but he could only put it over the bar.  Two minutes later he had another shot, this time the ball spun left of the goal.

Benfield No. 6 Liam McNamara then opened up the Bishops defence with a ball through to Watts, only for Niall McGoldrick to deny the No. 11 with a potentially goal-saving tackle.  Two minutes later, Bishop Auckland replied with James Fairley hitting a free kick that skimmed off the top of the Benfield bar.

The winner came in the 67th minute – Matty Weirs intercepting a Benfield backpass before taking the ball wide right and then squeezing the ball through the narrowest of gaps between keeper Andrew Grainger, a defender and the post.  Against the run of play, Bishop Auckland had found the winner.

Benfield finished strongly: a free kick by substitute Dennis Knight just missing the left hand post and then Knight getting within inches of connecting to a free kick chipped into the box.

Mike Snowdon