BEDLINGTON Terriers got back to league action at the weekend after an enforced break due to the bad weather.
Saturday saw them travel to the to Sam Smiths Park, the home of Newcastle Benfield and there were high hopes of a victory as Bedlington had already completed two comprehensive wins against Benfield this season.
The match got underway in very blustery conditions with Bedlington kicking into the wind in the first half and on a heavy, uneven pitch that would make passing football very difficult.
The early stages of the game were very even with both teams struggling to come to terms in the conditions and very few chances being created.
Benfield’s new signing from Jarrow Roofing, Aristote Guerin-Lokonga was keeping the Terrier centre halves Carr and Snowdon busy with his powerful runs, but they coped well and did not allow any clear chances.
The first real chance came when Bedlington conceded a free kick fully 30 yards out. It was former Terriers Brian Dodsworth who stepped up to flash a wind assisted free kick just wide with goalkeeper Pickering scampering across his line.
Bedlington came back and almost took the lead on 20 minutes when Tony Shandran received the ball wide on the left and set off on one of his trademark mazy runs along the dead ball line but when the ball was cut back, no one was hand to apply the finishing touch and the chance was lost.
Benfield continued pressing with the wind at their backs, but could only create a couple of half chances which were dealt with quite comfortably by the Bedlington defence.
The best falling to another ex-terrier Ian Graham who turned smartly in the box but could only fire straight at Pickering from 12 yards.
The remainder of the half consisted of a midfield struggle with neither team having the upper hand or creating any clear chances.
The half time break arrived with scores level at 0-0 and Bedlington would have been pleased with their work in the first half.
With the wind at their backs, Bedlington came out of the traps smartly at the start of the second half and began pressing immediately.
On 50 minutes the deadlock was broken and the conditions played a major part.
Pickering’s massive, wind assisted punt up field found the head of Shandran and his flick on fell perfectly for the onrushing substitute Tony Chapman who, without breaking stride hit a perfect volley over the head of stranded home keeper Andrew Grainger.
Typically route one and utilising the conditions perfectly, The Terriers were in front.
It was now Bedlington’s turn to take advantage of the strong wind but when in good position, they could not capitalise.
Two free kicks taken from distance should have at least tested Grainger but poor technique resulted in neither hitting the target.
On 66 minutes slack defending almost let Benfield in for an equaliser but the chance was blocked and a corner resulted.
With chances at a premium, Bedlington knew if they continued to defend well then a win was in their grasp, however one lapse and Benfield were back in the game.
On 75 minutes Benfield left back Phil Gray, recently signed from Newton Aycliffe, got the better of Stephen Stewart out on the left wing and crossed into the middle. A half clearance fell nicely to Guerin-Lokonga 10 yards out and he made no mistake crashing the ball into the roof of the net giving Pickering no chance.
Both sides were now pressing to find that winner, but despite every effort, neither was able to force a clear opening in the remaining minutes and the game petered out, resulting in a draw. A fair result as neither team did enough to justify the win but Bedlington will still be kicking themselves for throwing the lead away with one moment of lack of concentration.
Bedlington Terriers are next in action with a double header against Dunston UTS F.C.
First up they are away on Tuesday February 21 at The UTS Stadium kick off 7.30pm then next Saturday February 25 at Welfare Park kick off 3.00pm.