Newcastle Benfield 2 Guisborough Town 2 (Northern League Division One)
A late own goal earned Guisborough a precious point at Newcastle Benfield on Wednesday with a much-improved second half performance earning the Priorymen a deserved share of the spoils.
Guisborough came into the game with old favourite Daniel Dixon in goal as regular keeper Michael Thackeray was unavailable due to work commitments – and the stand-in keeper was kept busy throughout the night.
Benfield had most of the early chances but failed to capitalise on them, with a close range effort from Paul Brayson lacking power and easily saved by Dixon.
Although the home side looked much the stronger in the opening 10 minutes they were shocked when Guisborough, against the run of play, took the lead in the 11th minute when Matty Pennal headed the ball down and then volleyed an angled shot from 18 yards over keeper Andrew Grainger for what look an early contender for ‘goal of the season.’
Benfield continued to pile on the pressure and a 10 yard header from Lewis Scorgie flew just over the bar. The game was becoming end to end and in the 18th minute Guisborough should have scored a second goal as a break away saw Connor Smith hit a 15-yard strike which Grainger saved. Pennal headed the loose ball goal-wards but Granger managed to get back and scramble the ball clear.
But on 21 minutes, Benfield scored a deserved equalizer with a move down the left ending with an excellent cross from Michael Riley and Jack Errington’s header from eight yards out flew in the net.
And just two minutes later the home side should have taken the lead when the dangerous Brayson played a through ball to Scott McCarthy who beat his marker and chipped the ball over Dixon only to see it go inches past the right hand post.
Guisborough came out looking much better in the second half but the best opening effort came Benfield’s way in the 67th minute when Benfield’s Matthew Cornish struck a 20 yard show low and hard which again went close.
Both teams were now defending hard and play switched from end to end and on 74 minutes Guisborough’s Thibault ‘T’ Charmey played a pass to Connor Smith whose side foot effort from 15 yards produced a great diving save at full stretch from Grainger.
But with 10 mins left on the watch, Benfield thought they’d sealed all three points after a defensive error at the back saw a shot bounce off Leon Carling for a corner. This was hit deep into the area and the powerful Scorgie rose well above the Guisborough rearguard to head the home side into the lead.
Guisborough continued to push forward and on 85 minutes were grateful to grab an equalizer after a powerful cross into the box by Peter Bulmer saw unlucky Benfield defender Steve Tobin bullet a header back into his own net past a stranded Grainger.
After the game, Guisborough Manager Steve Dowling commented: “In the first half I felt we were lucky to come in level at 1-1 after Benfield’s front two caused us lots of problems and our midfield two struggled against the opposing three in midfield.
“At half time we changed our shape and looked much more in control throughout the second half but were caught out by a set piece.
“However, we kept battling and we rewarded with a late equaliser, albeit an own goal. Overall, I thought we had some particularly good performances from Steve Roberts, Matty Pennal and Connor smith but I went for Leon Carling as my man of the match,” added Dowlo.
Guisborough Town: Dixon, Roddam, Farrington, Carling, McPhillips, Wood, Charmey, Roberts, Smith, Pennal, Bulmer. Subs: Cocks, Oldfield, Bligh (Blake and Lee not used).
Photo: Before the game against Benfield, Guisborough’s team sportingly showed their support and solidarity towards a young three-year-old boy from Tyneside called Frankie who sadly is suffering from cancer. The ‘fists-up’ salute has become the ‘trademark’ of the campaign for Frankie to signify support and determination for the young boy. Pic kind courtesy of Ian Rose.