|Newton Aycliffe FC||1|
By Paul McGeary
Newton Aycliffe crashed to their third league defeat of the season with a 2-1 reverse at home to Newcastle Benfield.
Despite the Newtonians taking a 15th minute lead through Darlington loanee Phil Gray, Benfield hit back and claimed the points with goals from Shaun McAvoy and Michael Chilton.
Aycliffe missed the work rate of striker Dale Jardine, with too many forward balls coming straight back, something which was a far cry from events at Shildon just three days previous.
Scott Pocklington, making his 50th appearance for the club was in scintillating form, claiming the Man of the Match award with two top notch saves to warden further embarrassment for the home side.
15 minutes were on the clock when Gray netted his first Aycliffe goal. Elliot Gardner took a clever free-kick, slotting wide to Gray when everyone thought he’d go for goal, and the 18-year-old left-back fired home with his left foot from inside the area.
Benfield restored parity on 24 minutes when McAvoy was given the freedom of the park to saunter through and meet Brian Dodsworth’s right-wing corner with a bullet header leaving former Benfield ‘keeper Pocklington with no chance.
Pocklington produced a wonderful stop on the half hour when Darren Craddock inadvertently cleared against Lewis Teasdale’s head only to see the giant 21-year-old stopper claw the ball upwards with a diving save before claiming at the second attempt.
Teasdale fired over Pocklington’s bar shortly afterwards before the custodian again saved smartly from Kevin Leighton’s header, again a free one from inside the box as the defence looked on.
The second half saw Aycliffe ask more questions of their opponents, but only half chances were carved out, with returning substitute Josh Gray seeing an 18-yard drive blocked and Paul Broom strike the base of Andrew Grainger’s post from an acute angle, although the ‘keeper looked comfortable.
10 minutes from time Aycliffe almost snatched the lead when Grainger parried James Oliver’s shot into the path of Gardner who did well to fashion anything out of the ricochet, but defender Mark Turnbull was on hand to clear the danger as the ball ran goalwards.
Allan Oliver’s side saw the game go from their grasp with seven minutes remaining, when McAvoy drew Pocklington before squaring for sub Michael Chilton to sweep into the empty net from six yards.
Tom Portas stung Grainger’s hands with a 25-yarder in the closing minutes while there were frantic scenes as Aycliffe forged a string of corners in the added period but Benfield remained resolute and claimed the victory.
Scott Pocklington – saves!
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