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Five-star Darlington beat Benfield
Darlington 5 Newcastle Benfield 2
It’s not quite October yet, but already Darlington have ten league victories to their name after putting five goals past Newcastle Benfield today.
They have now won ten of their 11 league games, including all seven at home during which they have scored 24 goals.
Their five today came from Leon Scott, Joe Tait, Amar Purewal (2) and Steven Johnson, though there was a late scare at 4-0 when two defensive errors allowed Benfield to pull two goals back.
It was not enough to prevent Martin Gray’s men from securing the securing the points which maintain their six-point lead at the top of the Ebac Northern League.
Newcastle Benfield came into the game 15th in the table having lost five of their previous eight matches and they’d lost their most recent three game without scoring. But they started the game on top, despite Darlington having the benefit of a strong wind at their backs.
It was a scrappy start by Darlington, eptomised by an error from keeper Jack Norton. He came too late to claim a high ball at the edge of the area, but Gary Brown headed clear to Benfield’s Gary Ormston was on hand to send a looping header over the stranded Norton, but Brown back-peddled to bail out his team-mate by clearing off the line.
Benfield continued to press, but they were unable to pose Norton serious danger and gradually Quakers, who included new signing Craig Gott, made their mark.
A nice turn by Darlington’s Stephen Thompson left two players for dead, his next touch was too heavy, but a clumsy challenge by Mark Turnbull conceded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Chris Emms took it, lifting the ball over the Benfield wall as well as the goal.
It was not until the 17th minute that Darlington had an effort to worry keeper Andrew Grainger, Leon Scott shooting narrowly wide from outside the penalty area.
But on 23 minutes Thompson created Quakers’ first goal of the day.
He glided through midfield and into the penalty area, taking the ball past Benfield’s Gary Ormston, Kevin Leighton and Richard Slaughter before teeing up the unmarked Amar Purewal at the far post. Purewal made a meal of getting the ball under control, but he eventually poked past Grainger for his seventh goal of the season.
Nine minutes later it was 2-0 with Scott scoring his second goal of the week.
Having grabbed his first for the club in Wednesday’s win over Durham City, he notched again, though this time in part due to an error by Grainger who clearance was poorly controlled by a Benfield defender, allowing Scott to advance into the penalty area where he executed a lovely dink over the keeper.
With Benfield’s belief shattered, Darlington were 3-0 up at the break thanks to a header from Tait as he met a free-kick taken by Dan Smith, though it would have been 4-0 had Grainger not pulled off a smart save to deny Thompson in injury time.
Quakers started the second half where they left off in the first, charging forward and looking good for more goals.
Chris Emms met a Purewal cross with a spectacular volley 16 yards from goal. It sailed over the Benfield bar, but had he scored it would’ve bettered the goal the eye-catching chip he netted against Consett.
More chances came and went. After a Thompson right-wing cross, Purewal rounded the keeper and shot at goal, but his effort was cleared off the line by Benfield right-back Luke Gilhespy.
Also, Adam Nicholls pulled ball back to Thompson who hit a first-time side-footed effort straight at Grainger and a poor Nicholls touch in the area after receiving a Purewal pass denied the winger a shot at goal.
Gott looked tidy in midfield, the former Billingham Synthonia man keeping possession and looking to be positive on the ball, but it was Thompson who stood out with the forward proving a menace to mark in and around the penalty area.
He created another goal for Purewal when it finally, almost inevitably, became 4-0 on 70 minutes.
After a sustained period passing, Thompson played a carefully-weighted ball to Purewal who rolled the ball beyond Grainger for his second goal of the day.
With 20 minutes to play, Quakers looked good to win by six or seven goals, but another error by Norton handed Benfield a consolation.
A simple Brown back-pass went over the keeper’s foot and rolled into the net for 4-1.
It was very much like Gary Neville’s infamous own goal for England scored past Paul Robinson, or even like the one Quakers coach Sean Gregan scored for Darlington in 1995-96 against Barnet.
The goal will go to Brown, but it was very much Norton’s mistake.
Incredibly, despite Benfeld not having threatened for around an hour, they suddenly had a second goal to celebrate and again it was after a Darlington error.
Smith’s poor pass went past intended target Tait and straight to substitute Sam Norris who slotted past Norton for 4-2.
But a three-goal breathing space was soon returned. Steven Johnson scored after coming off the bench for second time in four days. He latched on to Adam Nicholls' ball, beating Benfield’s offside trap and knocking the ball over Grainger and firing home.
Having now scored 14 goals in their past four games, Darlington hope to continue their scoring form at Penrith on Tuesday evening.
Goals : Amar Purewal (23, 1-0), Scott (32, 2-0), Tait (43, 3-0), Amar Purewal (70, 4-0); Brown og (74, 4-1); Norris (81, 4-2), Johnson (85, 5-2)
Referee: Tony Peart
Darlington: Norton; Harrison, Brown, Tait, Smith (Richardson 83); Emms (Reay 65), Gott, Scott, Nicholls; Thompson (Johnson 73), Amar Purewal. Subs (not used): Porter (gk), Ellison
Newcastle Benfield: Grainger, Gilhespy, Turnbull, Ormston (Norris 54), Leighton, Timmons, Slaughter, Bell, Alexander (Young 77), Pounder( Canham 84), Kane. Subs (not used): Cunningham, Gray