Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Newcastle Benfield secured their place in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup after edging a penalty shoot-out victory over Seaham Red Star.
That result will tee up an away clash with Frickley Athletic on Saturday September 12.
The contest got off to a lively start and it was Benfield who took the initiative as they looked to bring Dan O’Reilly and Paul Brayson into the game early on.
O’Reilly has had an impressive pre-season and was hoping to get his campaign off to the best possible start.
Goals are his usual game, but he almost turned provider after just five minutes when some excellent hold-up play saw him lay the ball off to Aiden Haley who dragged his effort wide of the mark.
Seaham Red Star perhaps weren’t favourites going into the game but they certainly looked to use their aerial prowess to their advantage early on.
Five minutes on from the hosts’ opportunity and Red Star had a chance of their own as a whipped free-kick found the head of skipper Dan Hawkins whose effort went just wide.
Seaham used this chance to generate a short spell of pressure just two minutes later when uncertainty in six yard area saw them go close, before the hosts scrambled it away to safety.
One area that Benfield were keen to exploit was the flanks.
Kane Evans and Matty Parker took on the roles of right and left wing-back respectively, and both showed supporters what they were capable of during the first period.
Parker used his pace and trickery to cut in from the left flank and unleash an effort that was deflected out for a corner.
Evans on the other flank had his turn just moments later as a break down the right saw him find O’Reilly in the area, with the striker’s effort being closed down well by the visitors.
One surprise selection on the night was that of Alfie Gordon.
The young goalkeeper is new to this level of football but didn’t look out of place at all as he used his quick reflexes to brilliantly deny Seaham striker Andrew Johnson from point-blank range.
As far as the first period is concerned, it was the two defences that dominated proceedings, keeping the score at 0-0 at the break.
It appeared that it would take something special to force a breakthrough, and thankfully for Benfield it didn’t take long for that moment to come.
Early pressure saw the hosts win a corner which was whipped in by Evans and met by the head of Joe Robson to make it 1-0.
After going ahead Stuart Elliott was telling his team to remain focused and not do anything foolish, so what came next will not have gone down well with the gaffer.
Just two minutes later a lofted ball over the top of the Benfield defence found Jason Blackburn who managed to lob the ball over Gordon and into the far corner of the net.
The equaliser seemed to spark the home side back to life and what followed was a spell of pressure from the hosts.
Lewis Scorgie clipped the bar with a header, before Paul Brayson won a free-kick in a dangerous area with some excellent hold-up play in the channels.
Seaham also had opportunities to get the decisive goal, with former Benfield full-back Joe Hailes going close with a wonderful curling effort from the edge of the area that dipped just over the top of the bar.
With the clock ticking down both side had their share of half chances to take the win – at least that was the case until substitute Jack Cooper was given a straight-red for serious foul play.
Red Star pushed forward to try and grab a late winner, but the hosts held on for the drama of a penalty shootout.
Ritchie Slaughter and Reece Noble stepped up and converted from 12 yards, with the visitors levelling both times.
Dan O'Reilly was next up but missed from the spot, with Seaham taking the opportunity to go ahead.
Cyril Giraud converted his effort, before a save from Alfie Gordon brought the shootout level once more.
Joe Robson stepped up for the fifth penalty and slotted it away, before Seaham missed the crucial last penalty to send Benfield through to the next round.
It was a hard-fought victory that could have gone either way, but the hosts will be delighted to have done enough to set up a trip to Frickley Athletic in the next round.
Final Score: Newcastle Benfield 1-1 Seaham Red Star (Benfield win 4-3 on penalties)
MOTM – Alfie Gordon
Reporter – Phil Spencer