Saturday 23 July 2016, 14.30, Olivebank

My second viewing of Musselburgh this pre-season with their new coaching staff and team.  They’ve already drawn with Spartans and won that game I attended against Edinburgh University in pre-season.

Newcastle Benfield are the second side I am seeing this pre-season from the Northern League Division One after seeing Morpeth Town at Gala.

Benfield started out as Brunswick Village Football Club, founded in 1988 and entered into the Northern Alliance Division Two. After only one season (a 10th-place finish) the team’s name was changed to Heaton Corner House Football Club, playing at Walker Park. Heaton Corner were champions of the Northern Alliance Division Two during the 1989–90 season.  After just one season again, another name change, to Newcastle Benfield Park and another move, to Sam Smith’s Park.

By the early 1990s they were playing in the Northern Alliance Premier Division, and won a league and cup double in 94-95.  1999 saw a merger with St Columbas from North Shields and another name change, to Newcastle Benfield Saints. They regained the Premier Division title in 2003 and with it promotion to the Northern League Division Two. Another promotion followed the next season, to Northern League Division One.

In 2005 (you’ve guessed it) they changed their name again, this time to Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics.  For the 2007–08 season Bay Plastics was dropped from the team’s title and for that season Benfield were known simply as Newcastle Benfield BP.  (The “BP” has since been dropped).

2008–09 season saw Benfield win the league cup and championship double.  Since 2012 the club have introduced youth teams and reserves.  Last season saw them finish eighteenth in the 22 team league.

This is their third pre-season friendly.

The kick off was delayed due to the Benfield bus getting a puncture on their way north and there were around 100 inside the ground when it started at 2.53.

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A good move from Benfield in 3 minutes was thwarted by Ritchie at full stretch to divert the ball away.

O’Kane tried a spectacular lob from distance in 6 minutes after McCulloch chested the ball down to him that went just wide of the Benfield goal, with Grainger struggling to get back.

There was a good chance for the visitors in the ninth minute when Brasson was found in the box.  Dunn looked set to clear, but lost his footing.  Then Brasson also lost his footing and couldn’t get the required power in his shot, which was deflected wide.

The away side took the lead in 17 minutes.  Hudson was released down the right and his cross into the box saw defender Lynch get the ball stuck between his feet and Brasson was onto it in a flash and calmly sent Renton the wrong way from 6 yards.

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With half an hour gone, Scott’s corner into the Musselburgh box was flicked on by Baptist for Hudson, but he couldn’t get good contact on the ball and he toed it wide.

A crossfield ball by Wrightson in 35 minutes looked for Brasson on the left, but Ritchie looked set to get there first for Burgh.  He stretched to reach it, but didn’t make contact and went down in a heap.  Brasson was clean through but with just Renton to beat, put his shot wide.

Musselburgh broke forward in the next minute with Thomson down the left and he crossed to the back post where King couldn’t quite get over the ball and headed over.

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In 37 minutes, McCulloch flicked on a Musselburgh ball forward and King showed good feet before playing the ball through to Moffat, but he sliced wide of goal.

With a minute to half time, O’Kane shot from distance and it took a wicked deflection, completely wrong footing Grainger in the Benfield goal, but it went wide.

Right on half time, McCarthy looked to be caught in the Musselburgh box, but nothing was given.

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Benfield broke quickly in 54 minutes after a Musselburgh corner and a good turn on halfway by McCarthy saw him run on until he was through on the keeper, but his side footed effort across goal went wide.

Some good play by Murphy brought about a chance for Musselburgh in 60 minutes when he beat a couple of players before passing to McCulloch, who hit for goal quickly, but it was wide of the post.

A short corner by Benfield in 67 minutes saw Wrightson swing the ball into the box where Brasson headed home unchallenged to double the lead.

Three minutes later it was all over.  Hudson’s cross from the right into the box saw Dunn get something on it, but it still made its way to Brasson at the back post who headed into the net to complete his hat trick.

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Musselburgh came close in 76 minutes when Thomson’s corner was met by the head of McManus at the back post, but Grainger did very well to get a hand to it and touch it onto the bar.

Walker tried to curl one in from the corner of the box for Benfield in 83 minutes, but Mancini saved.

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With five minutes to go McCarthy found himself clear on the Musselburgh goal and he managed to take the ball around the keeper, but it took him wide and he was eventually crowded out.

The last minute saw another chance for McCarthy when he played through by Brasson, but Mancini managed to block.

There were some tasty tackles in a feisty game in which Benfield looked fit, strong and impressive, with Hudson and Wrightson playing very well and McNamee at the back not putting a foot wrong.  Brasson must get a mention for a well taken three goals.

It wasn’t the home side’s day, but encouraging performances from O’Kane and Murphy in midfield.

Full Time: Musselburgh Athletic 0 Newcastle Benfield 3

Admission: £4

Musselburgh Athletic: 1 Kieron Renton (Mancini 45), 3 Matty Lynch, 4 David Dunn, 6 Declan O’Kane, 7 Sean Murphy, 9 Scott McCulloch (Spowart 62), 10 Mathu King (Forster 45), 11 Jed Davie, 14 Michael Moffat, 15 Conor Thomson, 18 Scott Ritchie (McManus 45).  Subs: 21 Luke Mancini, 2 John McManus, 12 Alistair Forster, 16 Connor Spowart.

Newcastle Benfield: 1 Andrew Grainger, 2 Stephen Tobin, 3 Josh Scott (Walker 62), 4 Thomas McNamee, 5 Lewis Scorgie (Coughlan 56), 6 Mark Dummet, 7 Liam Hudson, 8 Kieran Wrightson, 9 Paul Brasson, 10 Scott McCarthy, 11 Stephen Baptist.  Subs:  12 Michael Coughlan, 14 Dean Walker, 15 Callum Uderstone.

Referee: Mark Rennie.

Programme: None, but free team sheet.

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