Earnshaw hat-trick inspires Bentham

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IN the 848-848 Taxis/Sam Price Memorial Cup First Round, a very poor defensive performance from Caton United meant Bentham did not have to be on top form to win with ease.

Bentham started the scoring after a needless free-kick was headed in by an unmarked Graham Cowgill after just five minutes.

Whenever Bentham attacked they caused big problems for Caton and it was a surprise they did not extend their lead.

Caton did show a bit of resistance after holding out for 20 minutes and they produced one passage of good play resulting in Matthew Smith volleying in the equaliser.

Within 60 seconds Bentham re-took the lead. Poor mistakes in defence allowed danger man James Earnshaw to shoot into the net from four yards out with two defenders and the keeper unable to get the ball cleared.

Two minutes later the game was won for Bentham when another defensive mistake allowed Chris Hodgkinson to score to make it 3-1.

In the 26th minute it was 4-1 when the hopeless Caton defence was beaten again when Stuart Ralph scored after rounding the ’keeper. He had not been to sleep after working a night shift but was more awake than the defenders he had in front of him.

The second half started brightly for Caton as they created early chances only to be denied by some excellent goalkeeping.

Bentham soaked up the pressure until they broke away in the 67th minute when a long clearance found two Bentham attackers clear of any defenders, resulting in David Whitfield finally scoring a goal after weeks of near misses.

Bentham went 6-1 in front when Matthew Lister scored a good goal from a free-kick. Then James Earnshaw, who by his standards was kept quiet, switched wings with just 15 minutes remaining, came more to life and completed his hat-trick with two late goals.

In the second round Bentham will face a much sterner task as they are away to Highgrove.

See The Visitor (31-01-12) for full story.