Terriers on target for top six finish

BEDLINGTON TERRIERS held in-form Newcastle Benfield at Welfare Park on Saturday, with neither side able to find the breakthrough to secure the points.

For the Terriers, it maintained a run of league form which has seen them lose only twice in 11 games as they seek to achieve their pre-season target of a top six finish.

With the news that Trevor Benjamin had gone out on loan to Wroxham as he seeks to rebuild his match fitness, the management team of Lowery and Perry moved quickly to boost their striking options with the signing of Lee Hamilton from Ashington.

Hamilton thus began his second stint at Bedlington having played alongside brother Paul three years earlier.

Perhaps recognising the challenge presented by the influential midfield line-up of the visitors, Colin Morton was named in a rare midfield role, also assuming the captaincy.

Leading goalscorer Shandran had the first opportunity for the Terriers after just five minutes, when he chest-controlled a long ball into the Benfield area, only to slice his shoot well wide from 15 yards.

Newton was the first goalkeeper drawn into serious action when he produced a fine save to deny Benfield on the quarter hour mark.

Bedlington were then struck by a serious blow, when Shandran was forced off with a reoccurrence of an ankle injury after only 19 minutes.

In a reshuffle when he was replaced by Chapman, Lund was pushed up front to partner Hamilton, with Chapman and Poole taking their respective places and the right and left flanks.

Benfield were looking the more dangerous of the two sides, befitting a team who went into this game top of the League form table, and on an unbeaten run which had begun way back in late November and seen them rise into the top four.

Campbell was denied when his low shot was well held by Newton.

However, it was the hosts who went closest to taking the lead just past the half hour point.

Christensen played into Chapman, and his first time cross from the right saw a trademark Hamilton header glance agonisingly off the outside of the upright.

Benfield suffered a blow off their own a minute later when Campbell had to be replaced after receiving a blow to the head during an aerial challenge, later being taken to Wansbeck Hospital as a precaution.

His place was taken by local boy Stephen Young, who had struggled to regain his place in the team following return from injury.

Skipper Morton was cautioned for a wild challenge near the touchline, and was perhaps lucky not to receive a second and his marching orders for a similar tackle just before the half time whistle.

However, the game was still finely poised, with many already suggesting that the encounter had 'goalless draw' written all over it.

The second period produced precious little extra goal action to the half that had preceded it, but it would probably be fair to say that Bedlington had their keeper to thank for keeping them in the game after pulling off two or three excellent saves to deny the visitors.

The Terriers also suffered more injury woe when Poole had to go off to be replaced by Graham.

Bedlington did carve out one excellent opportunity as the game headed into the final 15 minutes, when Christensen's perfectly weighted cross from the right saw Hamilton's instinctive volley at the far post brilliantly turned away by Grainger in the Benfield goal.

In turn, Newton saved the best for last in the final minute of the game, when he produced a brilliant block to deny Chilton who had a clear run on goal and who would have been favourite to score and steal the points.

This Saturday sees the Terriers make the long trip across the Pennines to visit Penrith, who are always a tough proposition on their own patch.

As is customary, the Terriers have filled a bus with supporters to ensure their team is cheered on in numbers.

They will be hoping for a better outcome than last season, when the Terriers were left on the wrong end of a 5-0 spanking from their Cumbrian hosts.

Following this encounter, the Terriers are back on the road again next Tuesday night when they visit struggling Ryton in what is a rearranged fixture from February.

Ryton had submitted a provisional resignation from the Northern League due to problems with debt and a lack of backroom bodies to keep the club going.

However, the good news was announced in recent days that the letter of resignation had been withdrawn and that Ryton were to continue as a going concern.