Newcastle Benfield show more hunger to end Ashington’s FA Vase hopes

Striker Glen Taylor fires home the equaliser for Ashington in their FA Vase defeat at Newcastle Benfield. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com
Striker Glen Taylor fires home the equaliser for Ashington in their FA Vase defeat at Newcastle Benfield. Picture by Ian Appleby - www.ianapplebyimages.com

Steven Baptist scuppered former club Ashington’s hopes of a prolonged run in this season’s FA Vase on Saturday.

His goal early in the second half proved to be the decisive strike which sent Newcastle Benfield through to the third round at Sam Smiths Park.

Baptist, handed an unaccustomed midfield role, volleyed home from six yards following fine work on the right by winger Michael Riley, who was a constant threat all afternoon.

The Colliers played their part in a ding-dong battle on a stamina sapping pitch, but in truth they could have no complaints about going through the exit door.

Benfield showed more hunger and desire than the Wansbeck side during the 90 minutes, and without question should have had the tie sewn up well before a nail biting finale.

They missed a couple of glorious opportunities and were denied on a handful of occasions, particularly in the first period, by the sheer brilliance of visiting keeper Conor Grant.

The significance of Grant’s performance was that he kept his side in the contest, and had it not been for a stunning save by his opposite number Andrew Grainger from Kyle Oliver, the Colliers would have clawed their way back on level terms.

Ashington began well enough and within 30 seconds ex-Benfield striker Phil Airey – making his full debut – had a shot blocked.

Lance McGlen then found Glen Taylor whose right foot volley was fisted away by Grainger with defender Mark Turnbull making a great challenge to deny Airey from the rebound.

However, the home outfit took control and after a screamer from Richie Slaughter had flashed wide, they took the lead in the 11th minute.

After building down the right, Dan Taylor delivered a pin point cross from the right touchline and Benfield’s lethal marksman Paul Brayson took full advantage of Ashington’s charity to gift him a free header which he duly planted into the corner of the net.

Play switched from end to end with Grainger smothering from Oliver then Grant pushing out a drive from Dan Taylor.

Minutes later the Colliers keeper denied Baptist and from the follow up Dillon Morse was foiled as James Taylor cleared superbly off the line.

Brayson, Taylor and Riley then figured in the best move of the half which ended with the latter’s effort taken by Grant.

But in the 31st minute, Ashington equalised with an excellent goal, even if it got a deflection and was against the run of play.

It came following a three-man move starting from the back by Grant who found Johnson. The skipper sprayed the ball out wide to Glen Taylor who cut inside before unleashing a left footed power drive from the edge of the area which rocketed into the net.

The score prompted a response from the home side and after Grant had saved from Baptist, a fizzer from Mark Convery flashed over.

Grainger clutched from McGlen and in time added on a move initially involving Andy Ferrell, Johnson and Glen Taylor ended with Dan Taylor deflecting the ball into his own net from Oliver’s cross from the byline only for the latter to be flagged offside.

The second half was only seven minutes old when Baptist finished with aplomb to put his side in front for a second time, but shortly afterwards Johnson crossed from the left and after Airey had teed up Oliver, the midfielder struck a venomous low effort from just inside the box which was goal bound until Grainger intervened, saving brilliantly.

After that Ashington, who lost central defender James Taylor through injury, huffed and puffed as they chased the game.

At the other end, Michael Hoganson and Riley both fired off target; Grant saved from Brayson and in time added on Benfield sub Gary Day netted but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Ashington: Grant, McGlen, Christensen, Ferrell (Shaw 72), Flynn, J Taylor (Davison 57), Oliver, Downey, Airey (Stephenson 65), G Taylor, Johnson. Subs not used: Egen, Barnard.

On Saturday, November 29, Ashington are away to Dunston then travel to the Daren Persson Stadium to face high fliers North Shields on Wednesday, December 3.