BRAYSON ROLLS BACK THE YEARS
Veteran striker, 41, is simply too hot for 1874
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.”
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