Vet­eran striker, 41, is sim­ply too hot for 1874

The Non-League Football Paper - - FA VASE 2ND ROUND - By Ja­son But­ton

VET­ERAN striker Paul Brayson was the star of the show again as he helped New­cas­tle Ben­field take the scalp of last year’s semi-fi­nal­ists 1874 North­wich.

The 41-year-old Ty­nesider, who played much of his ca­reer for 1874’s town ri­vals North­wich Vic­to­ria, net­ted the opener for Ben­field with a header just prior to the hour be­fore Scott McCarthy nod­ded in a sec­ond from close range ten min­utes later to all but end the tie.

“First half we didn’t play as well as we have been this sea­son,” said Ben­field man­ager Tom Wade. “The windy con­di­tions weren't great.

“North­wich had one or two chances, we had one or two chances. It was a fairly even game in the first half. We changed the shape at half-time and played a bit bet­ter.”

When asked about Brayson, Wade ad­mired: “He’s a top player, ob­vi­ously he’s get­ting on now but he still plays like he’s 21.

“He leads the line re­ally well and is a great role model for the young play­ers in the squad.

“With a young side you can lack self be­lief. We’ve got plenty of abil­ity, but you need that self be­lief too. We’re get­ting there and I’m just try­ing to en­cour­age that.”

A tight, scrappy first half in a stop-start en­counter meant the sides shared just a hand­ful of half chances in the open­ing 45 min­utes, but nei­ther looked likely to break the dead­lock.

North­wich went clos­est when Tay­lor Ken­ner­ley’s surg­ing run from his own half ended with the winger fir­ing a low shot at Ben­field keeper An­drew Grainger.

It wasn’t long be­fore Ben­field got in on the act, though, and Brayson fired over from a mat­ter of yards from Jake Or­rell’s free-kick on the left.

Al­ways a threat, Brayson was off tar­get again later in the first half. His header flew over fol­low­ing a cross from Dean Holmes af­ter good work from Den­nis Knight.

Jack Ir­lam did well to glide through the Ben­field de­fence, only for his weak shot to be gath­ered eas­ily by Grainger.

Although it was Brayson’s New­cas­tle who cre­ated the bet­ter chances of the half, they couldn't hit the tar­get as the stale­mate con­tin­ued into the start of the sec­ond half.

With Brayson’s goalscor­ing record and ex­pe­ri­ence at a higher level, surely it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore he found the back of the net.

In­deed, on the hour, the diminutive striker was left un­marked in the box to head home an­other cross from Holmes on the left wing, loop­ing his ef­fort away from James Coates.

Their sec­ond was also put in by the scorer’s fore­head. Or­rell’s cor­ner from the right landed per­fectly onto the fore­head of McCarthy, who nod­ded in.

The sec­ond goal re­ally al­lowed Ben­field to dom­i­nate the game, Brayson un­lucky him­self not to get a sec­ond with a pow­er­ful free-kick.

The hosts were happy to play out the rest of the game, 1874 mak­ing lit­tle head­way.

“Sec­ond half we didn’t re­ally show up,” said North­wich joint­man­ager Paul Bowyer. “In the first half we played well, but we didn’t re­ally carry that into the sec­ond.

“Af­ter the break we came out and played it long and didn’t re­ally ad­just to how New­cas­tle changed it up.

“In that half they def­i­nitely nul­li­fied our threat go­ing for­ward. When we were on the ball they closed down well.”

PIC­TURE: Shut­ter Press

ON THE CHARGE: New­cas­tle Ben­field’s Scott McCarthy, in blue, comes un­der pres­sure from 1874’s Mark Jones and Paul Brayson heads home his team’s first goal of the game, inset above STAR MAN: Paul Brayson (New­cas­tle Ben­field) ATT: 262 EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: REF­EREE: Graeme Hop­per GOLDEN BOY: Paul Brayson, No.9, is lauded af­ter open­ing the scor­ing

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