By MARK CARRUTHERS (The Chronicle)
Paul Brayson believes Newcastle Benfield can look back on their performance throughout the season with pride. The former Newcastle United and Blyth Spartans striker scored 15 goals in all competitions as Benfield recovered from a challenging summer. where they lost a number of key players, to challenge for a top-ten place in Northern League Division One.
A 2-1 win at Northallerton Town in early March meant Stuart Elliott's side was sat in eighth place when the coronavirus brought an early end to the season.
Progress was made in a number of cup competitions as Benfield were set to host Newton Aycliffe in the Mitre Sports Brooks Mileson League Cup and they battled their way past BetVictor NPL North West Division ' leaders Workington before succumbing to Runcorn Town in the FA Cup's first qualifying round.
There were negatives as a below-par performance at Vauxhall Motors ended any ideas of a run to the latter stages of the FA Vase and a brave penalty shoot-out defeat against Newcastle United Under-23s ended their participation in the Northumberland Senior Cup at the quarter-final stage.
However, Brayson insisted the Benfield squad can be pleased with its results throughout the season.
He told Chronicle Live: "We looked back at the players we lost in the summer - good players too - and the fact we had started getting players in during pre-season rather than before it got underway.
"It was a job to get players in to replace the ones who we lost because some players we wanted had gone elsewhere. "
"Then we lost key players for key parts of the season. "People like Ritchie Slaughter, Dean Holmes, Lewis Scorgie and Jake Thompson were injured and Mechack Kanda - who was probably our player of the season - was banned for something in Sunday League."
"Yet we finished eighth in the league, we were in the quarter-final of the League Cup, had a decent FA Cup run and gave the under-23s a right good game in the Senior Cup."
"Our only regret was the Vase where we went out far too early - but everywhere else we did well. "I don't think we did too badly overall."
Any thoughts of formulating plans for next season have been placed on hold by the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
Brayson revealed the club are looking at what they can do ahead of the summer - but conceded nothing can be confirmed until the government and Football Association give the go-ahead for the new campaign to get underway.
He said: "We are constantly working and now it is just a waiting game to see what the league and the government say."
'We cannot plan for pre-season, we cannot plan for anything to do with the season.
"We have some friendlies sorted provisionally but for the first time it is out of everyone's hands."