Cullercoats 1-2 Benton CC
Holmes 62 60, 83
Cairns 7, Hall 7 (R.Patterson 60, 6) Watson 7, Charlton 7, T.Patterson 6, Cobley 6, (Connelly 55, 7) Williamson 7, Bromham 8, (Shipley 85) Morton 6 (Holmes 60,7) Mcewen 7, Tallen 6.
Cullercoats missed the chance to qualify from group D and must now await the results of other fixtures to determine the group winners and semi finalists.
Benton arrived in fine form currently sitting top of Division 2 and also in the latter stages of many competitions, meaning this was a tough test for Cullercoats.
With a 4-4-2 formation the doves started the game well and looked sharp in possession however we failed to really test the visiting goalkeeper who looked far from assured at times. The visitors always looked dangerous on the break, particularly down the left, as Jason was given a tough half by Benton’s dangerous winger. Credit to our right back he handled the situation well. Midway through the half the visitors looked to have broken the deadlock with a long range effort that cannoned off the bar and luckily back into the hands of Cairns in goal. Chances were otherwise few and far between as the sides went in at the break goalless.
The second half was much the same as both sides struggled to create against well organised defences. On the hour mark we made a couple of changes down our right hand side with the returning Rob Patterson and Marcus Holmes being introduced for Hall and the hardworking Dan Morton. This seemed to have an unsettling effect on the lads as we conceded almost immediately. Benton cut through a few half hearted challenges and finished past Cairns, very poor defending on our part.
This seemed to fire us into action and just moments later Marcus levelled matters up with a hopeful clipped ball into the box that evaded Benton’s ‘keeper to fly in. With the clock ticking down Andy Tallen burst through and looked certain to win it but his left footed effort went high and wide.
With just 7 minutes remaining Benton nicked all 3 points when their left winger again caused problems and this time cut inside and fired an unstoppable 25 yard drive into the top corner, an effort worthy of winning any game. In the final moments Holmes missed a glorious chance at the back post before an almighty goalmouth scramble which summed up our day as we just could not force the ball over the line.
Not our day today and we can learn a lot of lessons. While playing 4-4-2 we did look more dangerous but after switching to 4-3-3 in an idea to try and get more midfield possession we actually gave Benton the impetus as it allowed them to play out from the back easier with our lack of pressing. Still in with a chance of winning the group but we now need Benton to slip up against North Shields or Cramlington, something which we can’t afford to do ourselves against the same opposition if we want to win the league.