We knew after the last couple of Benfield matches that there would be goal scoring opportunities for both sides. What was a surprise was that the first chance came within the first 10 seconds of the match. From the kick off a misplaced pass in the Benfield back line put through Red Star's Adam Lennox but a well recovered challenge limited the early effort to a scuffed shot well wide of the goal.
Play flowed back and forth until the first goal of the match. A ninth minute corner on Benfield's right wing was arrowed across the 6-yard box by Peter Glen-Ravenhill, narrowly missing the oncoming head of Lewis Scorgie at Seaham's front post. The ball broke out to the left finding the reliable quick footed Connor Walker. Who floated a well-aimed pass to the back post for a tidy finish by Benfield's reliable captain, Mark Turnbull to put the home side ahead.
Chances flowed back to the away side, with Red Star pushing on with chances in quick succession. Firstly, a fifteenth minute long ball played through to Seaham's Daniel Sayer, who was unlucky to see his effort rise well above the Benfield goal. This was followed up on the seventeenth minute by an acrobatic effort by Red Stars Adam Lennox. A floated ball from the right was met by an ambitious overhead kick attempt, to Benfield's fortune however Lennox was not able to get hold of the effort and the shot went wide of the mark.
The best chance of the opening for the visitors came in the nineteenth minute where a well-passed long free kick broke in Benfield's box to Seaham's Adam Lennox. Andrew Grainger was out to his six-yard box to narrow the angle with Reece Noble putting in a strong challenge on Lennox as he tried to control the ball. A strong shout went out by the visitors as Lennox went down, but the penalty shout was waved away by the referee. A big decision by the referee early in the match. But it was not for the last time in the match he was called upon to make game changing decisions.
The pressure was turned up again on the home side in the twenty-second minute as yet another well placed long ball on Red Stars left wing broke to Mark Robinson. A strong challenge to recover the ball from Benfield's Peter Glen-Ravenhill was judged by the referee to be a little too strong, with the visitors winning a penalty from the challenge. The second and equalising resulting penalty scored on the twenty third minute by Adam Lennox. Sending Grainger the wrong way while slotting the ball to the lower left of the goal.
Motivated by the equaliser. Benfield started to go back on the offensive. The twenty- seventh minute saw an unlucky long range effort from Benfield's Ryan McGorrigan narrowly go wide of the right edge of the box.
Play ebbed back and forth with both sides getting chances to get an important third goal in the match. But it was Seaham who put their nose in front on the thirty fifth minute after a sustained period of pressure against the home side. A well slotted pass from Liam Heywood played through Adam Lennox. His quick direct run took him through the Benfield defence to coolly slot past the advancing Andrew Grainger, two-one to the visitors
A quick rebuttal from Benfield shortly followed the restart. A long ball over the top to Abu Salim was neatly tucked away in the thirty-seventh minute. But unfortunately, Abu had just strayed offside and the goal was ruled out.
The half fished with another opportunity for the visitors to extend their lead. A well worked effort down the right wing with Seaham's Joshua Bags and Mark Robinson linking well. A shot by Mark Robinson being deflected behind for a corner. The resulting corner was taken well by Grainger mid-flight before the referee called half time.
The home crowd attendance of 236 would have been forgiven to take a well-earned breather with such a hectic first half. But then they were all in for an eventfully further forty-five minutes and then some, with more goals and even more controversial decisions.
The second half started off strong with an early Red Star opportunity. It was clear that Seaham wanted to press their advantage from the off and wanted to keep the pressure on Benfield. A free kick in the forty-seventh minute midway on the right hand side of Benfield's half to Seaham was firstly well cleared by Lewis Scorgie with follow up clearances again by Scorgie and Aiden Haley.
This pressure mounted further in the fiftieth minute as Grainger was forced into an excellent one on one save with Seaham's Daniel Sayer. The ball broke to Sayer after a well-directed header down from Adam Lennox after a long ball from Seaham's backline. Sayer gathered the ball well inside the right-hand side of the box and tried to slot the ball bottom left of the Benfield goal past the outstretched Grainger. But Grainger was well positioned for the effort and strongly deflected the shot away for a corner to Seaham.
Benfield were not going to simply sit back for the rest of the match however. The fifty third minute saw a booking for Seaham's Mark McLeod for bringing down Benfield's Richard Slaughter outside the Seaham's penalty area. The resulting freekick was whipped in by Reece Noble from the right towards the waiting Connor Walker who was unlucky at the back post not to convert.
Chances were coming back and forth for both teams as the second half advanced. Seaham's Daniel Sayer was again unlucky hitting over on the fifty sixth minute from a long arching ball in from the right-hand side. Moments later Benfield's Peter Glen-Ravenhill's looping shot from the left of the area was easily taken by Seaham's goalkeeper Andrew Jennison.
We knew another goal was coming, and we didn't have to wait long to see another. In the fifty-ninth minute a short pass within Seaham's back line was well read by Benfield's Ryan McGorrigan which led to Liam Haywood being powerfully dispossessed. Appeals for a freekick were waived away by the referee with Benfield advancing with an inch perfect pass from McGorrigan's through to Abu Salim in the box from the right. Abu took the pass well firstly on his right foot, two yards outside of Seaham's six-yard box. He quickly transferred it onto his left, wrongfooting the advancing Seaham defence before promptly slotting it away past Red Star’s Andrew Jennison. Two-Two, but we were not done yet folks.
Things started to then get a little feisty with both sides’ captains picking up bookings. Firstly, with Mark Turnbull in the sixty first minute after a mistimed challenge on Adam Lennox just outside of the Benfield box. The resulting corner after the challenge saw a sustained number of efforts by Seaham. But Benfield were able to weather this barrage of efforts.
Shortly after, it was Seaham’s captain Paul Weldon’s turn to go into the book on the sixty fifth minute after a challenge on Benfield's Abu Salim just outside of Red Star’s penalty area. The resulting freekick was floated over the top to the back post by Benfield's Reece Noble towards an awaiting Lewis Scorgie who was unlucky not to convert.
Sixty-seven minutes in and the chances started to flow back to the home side. The ball broke to Abu Salim from a well-timed challenge by Ryan McGorrigan after he again dispossessed Seaham's back line. Abu quickly closed in on goal being chased by the Seaham defence but was unable to convert. Putting it just wide right of Seaham's goal. There is a sense in both sets of fans that there is still more to come in the match as both sides are looking for maximum points.
The ebb and flow of the match went back and forth with strong chances on the sixty ninth minute for Seaham after some lovely passing movements back and forth across the edge of Benfield's area resulting in a fine effort from Seaham's Mark Robinson being parried away.
Some changes to the Benfield line up saw Archie Leonard come on for Abu Salim, and it was not long after that Archie made an impact on the game. A short ball played into Archie well inside of the Seaham's penalty area was firstly deflected from Archie's well timed taken shot, falling to Ryan McGorrigan to neatly tuck away past the Seaham keeper. 3-2 to the home side after seventy-six minutes. But the match was not still without some further drama.
Frustrations and emotions started to boil over in the eightieth minute when an innocent looking challenge on the edge of Benfield's box erupted in a five minute scrummage. Players from both sides were in amongst the huddle. The resulting bookings by the referee saw both Lewis Scorgie for Benfield and Thomas Lawson for Red Star get their names in the book.
The pressure on Benfield mounted from the relentless attacks from Seaham. Effort after effort from Seaham was well defended by Benfield with crucial saves by Andrew Grainger and a goal saving sliding challenge by Reece Noble on the eighty-third minute to deny Adam Lennox an equaliser. The home side are still ahead, but only just.
Pressure was lifted slightly on Benfield momentarily in the ninety-first minute as Ryan McGorrigan, Arche Leonard and Peter Glen-Ravenhill worked well in Seaham's half near the corner to try and run down the clock. But the game even in the late stage of the ninety first minute still had several twists and turns to go.
Benfield soon after felt they were harshly done by in what was the ninety-third minute. Archie Leonard caught the back of a Seaham's player’s legs after losing possession. Archie remained on his feet for the challenge with the Red Star player tumbling in front of him ten yards inside Benfield's half. The referee however must have seen more intent in the challenge by Archie attempting to win the ball, deeming the challenge worthy of a straight red to the bewilderment of all in the ground.
The cards kept flowing in the game even at this late stage, with a further booking picked up by Reece Noble on the ninety-fifth minute after a challenge on the half way line on Adam Lennox.
The resulting free kick led to a frantic further four minutes of play. With several opportunities by Seaham being well defended by Benfield. Seaham threw everyone up including their goal keeper Andrew Jennison for effort after effort with Benfield unable to clear their lines fully. Right up to the final Whistle on ninety-nine minutes Seaham pushed Benfield to the limits with their attacks. But the Lions were able to hold on for an important three points ahead of their Next FA Vase game against Emily AFC at home on the Twentieth of November.
Man of the Match …
Reporter: David Robson