Battling Terriers Pick Up First Point of Season
By Andrew McDonnell
Bedlington Terriers picked up their first point of the season and were very unlucky not to have picked up three, hitting the woodwork twice against Newcastle Benfield at Sam Smith’s Park.
Dean Briggs struck the foot of the post 10 minutes before half-time and the Terriers’ patience was rewarded when Adam Harvey curled his shot past the keeper for the lead.
Bedlington’s lead only lasted nine minutes as Paul Brayson struck the equaliser with a tap-in at the near post, but Marc Walton almost bagged a winner when fired against the bar minutes before the end.
The visitors came into the contest having being on the receiving end of an eight-nil thumping just four days prior and were looking to get their first point of the season on the board.
Benfield produced the first opportunity after seven minutes, Brayson knocked on a long-ball, finding Ritchie Slaughter, but his effort went wayward.
Although Andy Ferrell’s men had majority of possession, the hosts had the better of the chances in the first 25 minutes, with Brayson striking a free-kick, in a brilliant position, against the wall.
Liam Hudson appeared to have been dragged back in the box moments later, but to his despair, the referee waved away the strong appeals for a penalty.
The forward headed on a floated ball across to Andy McBride at the back post, and Mark Cook produced a fine save, parrying the ball away.
Loan-signing Dean Briggs produced two moments of magic in quick succession, he evaded challenges and found Hudson, who shot wide after making room for himself.
Briggs then shrugged off a tackle and after a 25-yard solo run, he slotted the ball under the keeper, but the ball ricocheted off the post and behind.
Those chances were among a period where the visitors were in control, carrying on the dominance until two minutes before the break.
Chris Hardy latched upon a through ball, but to the home supporters amazement, he failed to pull the trigger, allowing Terriers captain Stephen Little to produce a last-ditch challenge.
Hudson made Cook produce a save shortly into the second-half before Frazer Nairn was called upon for the first time in the game, parrying Brayson’s free-kick away.
Benfield then curled the ball back into the box after the clearance, and David Henderson kept Nairn on his toes, making him save another effort.
The Terriers found their feet and started to play with more freedom, some great build-up play should have been rewarded, but Harvey hit over following Kallum McGlen’s chest down.
Paul Stoneman was inches away from heading on Briggs’ free-kick before the breakthrough eventually came after 70 minutes.
Hudson’s shot deflected out to the edge of the box off the defender, and Harvey controlled and curled his shot past the keeper, with a deflection on the way.
Bedlington may well have doubled their lead six minutes after, but the chance was squandered and Benfield broke and Dan Taylor struck his effort over with the outside of his foot.
However, the hosts equaliser came after 79 minutes, a neat counter attack was rounded off with a tap-in by Brayson from close range after Mark Turnbull drilled his cross low.
From then on until the final whistle, the game went from a close encounter to an end-to-end contest where both sides attacked relentlessly, pushing for the winner.
Benfield were caught out pushing high, and Bedlington broke, four against three, Briggs found Walton, who cut back and fired against the crossbar, leaving head in hands.
The pair combined once again in the first minute of additional time, the striker was denied by Cook in goal, tipping his brilliant effort round the post.
Walton’s 30-yard strike in the final minute of the game sailed over the bar and the game came to a close with both sides picking up their first point of the season.
The game was certainly a change in contrast, with the squad showing signs of vast improvement going into Saturday’s FA Cup clash against West Auckland Town.
Benfield: Cook, Turnbull, Hoganson, Slaughter, Tobin, Patterson, McEwan (Bowey 65), Henderson, Brayson, Hardy (Taylor 65), Youldon
Subs Not Used: Busby, Drane, Carr
Terriers: Nairn, Little, Pendlebury, Liam Davison (Walton 69), L.McGlen, Stoneman, K.McGlen, Harvey (Stephenson 82), Hudson, Briggs, McBride (Ferrell 62)
Subs Not Used: Nellis, Gourley
Referee: Dean Chapman
Assistants: Martin Conroy and Daniel Tyas