BEDLINGTON Terriers made it back to winning ways in the EBAC Northern League Division One after a thoroughly dominant display against Newcastle Benfield on Wednesday evening.
Paul Brayson’s 21st, 22nd and 23rd goals of the season secured his first hat-trick for the club and all three points for the Terriers.
Bedlington took the lead with the first attack of the game, and it set the tone for the remainder.
Craig Baxter broke from the right-back position and reached the by-line before hitting a cross through the six yard box. Striker Phil Bannister was striving to get to the end of it but was beaten to it by Benfield defender David Coulson, who turned the ball past his own ‘keeper.
Bannister almost made it two on three minutes after an excellent ball into the box from deep by Baxter.
The ball landed on the head of Bannister 6 yards out, but he couldn’t direct his header towards the goal.
It was two nil on seven minutes, however, as Brayson rolled the ball into Bannister in the penalty area, but he was brought down before he could get his shot away by Kevin Leighton. The referee pointed to the spot and Brayson stepped up to fire high to his right and into the top corner.
Bedlington continued to dominate with opportunities aplenty for the home side.
On 14 minutes new signing Mark Doninger broke through the backline on a mazy run, only to be denied by an onrushing Andrew Grainger with his left footed effort. Brayson should have made it three seconds later, when Mark Turnball rolled a pass across the defence which Brayson picked up, only to dally on the ball, and eventually being denied by Grainger.
The save rebounded to Bannister who tried to chip the ‘keeper, but unfortunately for Bedlington, Coulson was on the line to deny him.
Newcastle Benfield only mustered their first effort on target on 17 minutes after a speedy counter-attack. Nicholas Kane received the ball 25 yards out and hit a rasping right footed striker towards the bottom corner, but Kevin Morton was up to the challenge and parried his shot away.
It was Baxter again the creator when Bedlington next hit the target, as he broke once more from the right back position. His cross landed at the feet of Brayson, but he was once more denied by Grainger who was having a fantastic half of football.
Baxter again found Brayson on 28 minutes with a long angled pass.
Brayson took it down before attempting to find Bannister on the other side of the box, but his cross was poor and the chance was squandered.
Grainger once more came to the rescue of Benfield after and excellent pass from Stuart Elliott for Brayson once more in the area. Brayson turned two before hitting a right footed effort, but was again denied by the inform ‘keeper. Alan O’Brien was the produced the final chance of the half for the home side thanks to his lightening quick pace. O’Brien broke down the left and found Bannister in the area. Grainger saved his first time effort, and Bannister’s second attempt, before finally grasping the ball after a third bundled attempt by Bannister.
The visitors created a couple of chances of their own just before the half, but neither Kane or Alex Benjamin could convert, the latter hitting the post from an offside position.
Bedlington almost started the second half in the same fashion as the first when O’Brien broke down the left, crossing towards Brayson. The striker mistimed his effort, however, and his shot rolled wide. The second half struggled to live up to the pace of the first, with a lot of possession in the middle third for both sides.
It wasn’t until the 67th minute that there was another attempt on target. Brayson cut in from the right wing, fizzing a right footed cross across the box to Steve Bowey. Bowey it a first time effort, but was denied on the line by Leighton.
Brayson finally got his second goal of the game in the 74th minute thanks to some excellent work down the left by Bowey. Bowey won the ball off Turnball before advancing it into the penalty area and pulling the ball back to Brayson. He took a touch before scuffing a shot into the bottom left hand corner.
Man of the Match Craig Baxter turned provider once more for Brayson’s third. Running down the right before picking out Brayson at the back post, who steered home a first time effort to complete his hat-trick.
Brayson and Bannister both were denied by Grainger in the remaining moments of the game, both from Craig Baxter crosses. Baxter was the stand out performer, causing a threat down the right hand side all game whilst playing at right back without much help. Brayson will take the plaudits, however, after his hat-trick.
Goals from the game can be seen here