Consett fell just short in their bid to put a spoke in the wheels of Stockton Town’s runaway surge towards the Northern League title, going down 2-1 at a gale-lashed Belle View.
Trailing the league leaders by two goals at half-time, the Steelmen put on a fine second-half performance which just failed to overturn the deficit.
The game kicked off in very windy conditions which were verging on making a sporting contest farcical, and within the first 10 minutes the referee had a discussion with both managers over whether the game should continue.
They decided it should go on, and the first 15 minutes of the game was spent mainly in the Stockton box as Consett, though had as much difficulty trying to control the ball and pass it accurately as the defenders had in clearing it.
Luke Carr had a shot pushed away by keeper Callum Roberts and Calvin Smith fizzed a 25-yarder just over the bar, but Consett failed to take advantage of a stream of corners and the assistance of the strong winds.
Stockton took the lead on 21 minutes when Consett lost possession. The ball fell to Mikey Roberts, who slipped it to Jonathan Franks, who fired home from eight yards to make it 1-0.
Confidence flowed through the visitors after that and Franks flashed a ball across the box which was just out of reach of a stretching Hayes at the far post.
Carr seemed Consett’s best hope of a goal, and he forced another decent save out of Roberts on 37 minutes, but four minutes later Stockton doubled their lead as Kevin Hayes finished at the back post through the legs of his Consett namesake Kyle from a Fred Woodhouse cross.
Half-time: Consett 0 Stockton Town 2
Kicking into the wind in the second half, the odds seemed to be against a Consett comeback, but they were given hope just three minutes in when Dale Pearson sent Ali Alshabeeb clear, and he held off the challenge of Lewis King before rolling the ball past the keeper for his 13th goal of the season, pictured top.
It was just the 14th goal Stockton have conceded in 27 league games – and two of the previous 13 came in our 2-2 draw at their ground back in September.
Ten minutes later overlapping full-back Jermaine Metz had a great chance to level, but scuffed his shot from Jake Orrell’s pass.
Stockton keeper Callum Roberts then made a fine double save, getting down well to save Jake Orrell’s well-struck effort from the edge of the box, then quickly recovering to thwart Pearson’s follow-up.
Metz had another chance, which he blazed over the crossbar, and in the 84th minute Roberts pulled off what turned out to be a matchwinning save, somehow keeping out Pearson’s powerful header from Alshabeeb’s cross.
Pearson was denied again two minutes later by a perfect last-ditch tackle by Adam Nicholson just as he was about to pull the trigger inside the box.
Try as they might, Consett couldn’t breach Stockton’s superb defence again, and it was the champions-elect and their big travelling support who were celebrating at the end as they extended their unbeaten league run to 19 games and went 15 points clear at the top.
|22/02/2020||3:00 pm||Northern League Division One||2019-20|