A cold and wet Wednesday night was made warmer for all Benfield fans after the Lions’ fantastic performance against Sunderland RCA resulted in a 4-1 thrashing.
Both teams were really up for this match; this was illustrated by the fast, end-to-end play that was seen at the beginning of the match. Benfield however, were dominant. The first opportunity fell for the Lions, but it proved to be an easy save from the RCA keeper who was able to launch a swift counterattack which eventually came to nothing for the team.
The next Benfield opportunity resulted in a goal in the third minute. A fantastic through ball from the centre of midfield set off MOTM Aidan Haley who was able to coolly slot the ball past the Sunderland keeper.
After going 1-0 up, Benfield refused to sit on their lead and manager Stu Elliott insisted on continuing to play attacking, entertaining football. The high line left the team occasionally vulnerable down the wings, and the 12th minute saw a solid attack from RCA which was scuppered and eventually cleared away by Brad Varga. Another Sunderland attack followed, which forced the save and earned a corner. The corner ended up launching a Benfield attack, but the Lions looked to stall and were met by a box flooded with Sunderland RCA players… a scramble in the box led to a shove from a Sunderland defender and a 15th minute penalty for Benfield. The penalty was calmly put in the back of the net, as the keeper went the right way but was left watching the ball sail just above him.
A Sunderland attack from the kick-off resulted in a good opportunity, but the chance was smothered by Benfield keeper, Alfie Gordon, resulting in a corner. Once again, Benfield won the ball and a long pass down the right side allowed the winger to cut in before laying it off to Paul Brayson, who played with fire and beautifully chipped the Sunderland keeper… another Benfield goal – 3-0 in the 21st minute.
Only 5 minutes later we saw another goal. A through ball from Aidan Haley split the Sunderland high line. The ball looked to be for Brayson, but in the realisation that he was offside, he left it for Abu Salim who was able to run in to a 1v1 with the keeper and roll it into the bottom right corner. Benfield were now 4-0 up.
Sunderland weren’t giving in though, and the football remained entertaining as both teams maintained an attacking mentality. Only 3 minutes after the Benfield goal, Gordon was forced to pull off a big double save in order to hold the clean sheet. Unfortunately, just 2 minutes later, a Sunderland attack lead by their No.3, Anthony Callaghan, saw a cross from the left land at the feet of a Sunderland attacker who pass able to pass it off to his teammate who then put it past Gordon, having been completely left in the lurch by poor defensive work from Benfield.
Sunderland, fired up by the goal, then had the share of opportunities for the last 10 minutes of the first half. Firstly, a cut in from the right from Sunderland required a great defensive header. Following this, a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box from Sunderland RCA forced another save from Gordon, made extremely difficult by the dire weather conditions.
Benfield held off the Sunderland threat and the game went into the second half at 4-1 to the Lions. For the most part, Benfield dominated the first.
The first attack of the second half came early, and a deflected through ball fell for Matty Parker who was able to get to a 1v1 with the Sunderland keeper, but the keeper made himself big and prevented a Benfield 5th.
The first substitution of the game was made in the 53rd minute, as Cyril Giraud came on for Matty Parker. Giraud would go on to have a strong impact on the game; not long after, he went on to make a lovely run down the left before putting in a low fizzing cross which was just cut out by the Sunderland defence before meeting Brayson.
Arguably the largest opportunity for Sunderland in the second half came from a free kick in the 70th minute, which was met by a Sunderland backheel effort, wonderfully blocked by Joe Robson. Other opportunities for RCA included a long shot met by Gordon with a simple save, a shot from the 18-yard box blasted miles over the crossbar, and a diagonal effort met by a great Benfield defensive block.
For Benfield, the best opportunity of the half came from a corner following Haley’s run through the defence which was deflected. The corner was taken high and floated over the box to a Sunderland player, but it was won back by a tenacious Benfield side who got a shot off which hit the crossbar and fell to Cyril Giraud, whose shot was met by another great save by the Sunderland keeper.
The win makes it 3 wins in a row for the Lions – we take on Guisborough Town on Saturday at home at 3pm.
Written by Jack Dunne.