STEVE Wilkes said his side defied expectation after Northwich Victoria eliminated Newcastle Benfield, considered by bookmakers as one of the favourites, from the FA Vase.

Vics had to resist a second-half recovery by their hosts after reaching the interval with a 3-0 lead but they held on to secure a spot in the last 16.

“Everybody thought that we’d get beat,” said Wilkes.

“We played on that, and I’m absolutely made up to get through.

“The lads deserve all the credit; they dug in and made it a fantastic day for the club.”

The visitors punished the home team for a mistake to take the lead when goalkeeper Andrew Grainger hurried a clearance and sent it straight to Joel Brownhill.

He promptly sent it back and the ball sailed into the net for his 17th goal of the campaign.

Vics doubled the lead when Harvey Whyte met Rob Doran’s cross from the right with a neat header.

The midfielder turned provider when they went further in front, Matty Clarke looping a header where Grainger couldn’t reach.

There was a let-off for Northwich when Jake Orwell’s drive from distance crashed against an upright.

The hosts, unbeaten in their past 14 matches in all competitions, improved after the interval.

Goalkeeper Danny Taberner had stretch fully to his right to thwart Orrell before Benfield pulled a goal back when Mark Turnbull converted from close-range after the custodian spilled the ball.

Vics responded, and substitute Brian Matthews teed up Brownhill who called Grainger into action.

Another replacement, Dennis Knight, was then denied by Taberner at the other end when he tried his luck from outside of the box.

Knight persisted, and made it 3-2 when fired into the corner on 83 minutes.

Matthews fluffed a chance when Brownhill created one for him, prodding the ball skywards with a weak connection inside the six-yard box.

Newcastle twice appealed for a penalty, first when Knight tumbled after Joe Camozzi’s tackle and then when Dale Pearson claimed Brandon Barski pulled him back, but referee Alex Clark was unconvinced on both occasions.

Wilkes added: “I think we’d put so much effort into the first-half that we were out on our feet.

“For Matty Clarke, a local lad, to get what turned out to be the winner was brilliant.”

Newcastle | Grainger (GK), Evans, Martin, Turnbull, Nisbet, Slaughter, Holmes (McCarthy 50), Noble (Pell 90), Brayson, Orrell (Knight 65), Pearson Subs not used Novak, Heaney Goals Turnbull 73, Knight 83

Vics | Taberner (GK), Camozzi, Clarke, FitzGerald, Barski, Whyte (Craig 85), Cooke, Doran (Matthews 73), Brownhill (Darr 86), Mason Subs not used Whittle, Kenny Goals Brownhill 15, Whyte 29, Clarke 36

Referee Alex Clark

Attendance 360