Consett made a piece of club history by beating Deal Town 2-0 at Belle View Stadium to make the quarter-finals of the FA Vase for the first time. They dominated possession against the Southern Counties East League opponents from the start, but had to wait until late in the game to secure the win they fully deserved.
Manager Terry Mitchell was without the suspended Ross Wilkinson and Matty Slocombe, which meant starts for Nick Allen at centre-back and Dean Briggs in midfield. Otherwise the Steelmen were at full strength, including the welcome return of top scorer Dale Pearson from the injury he suffered at Thornaby three weeks earlier.
There was an early scare for Consett as Deal attacked down the left, and Steve O’ Brien’s cross was just too far in front of Ben Chapman for him to get a touch and take it goalwards. The Steelmen took control of the early stages of the game, without creating a clear-cut chance.
On 10 minutes Jake Orrell cut in from the left and curled a shot just wide of the far post, and a couple of minutes later skipper Arjun Purewal was allowed to bring the ball out from the back, and tried his luck from 25 yards, but blazed well over the bar, and Allen did the same on the quarter-hour mark.
Deal were trying to play football, attacking down both flanks, without really hurting Consett, who were coping well with the visitors’ main goal threat, burly striker Connor Coyne. Their best spell came midway through the half, when Charlie Walsh fired wide after coming in late at the back post, then saw a good effort tipped round the post by Kyle Hayes.
As the half wore on Consett started to take control, and Luke Carr twice saw rising shots from just outside the box clear the bar. The best chance came on 36 minutes, when a great pass by Briggs put Ali Alshabeeb in on goal, but his effort from a tight angle was saved by Deal keeper James Tonkin with his feet.
Half-time: Consett 0 Deal Town 0
Deal were defending well, and had coped with everything their hosts had thrown at them in the first half, but the second 45 minutes saw the Steelmen step up a gear, and look far more dangerous, instead of being largely restricted to shots from distance.
Just a minute in, a long ball from the Consett half sent Pearson clear, but, unusually, the big striker’s touch let him down as he got to the edge of the box, and the chance was gone.
In the 49th minute Pearson was fouled 20 yards out, and Orrell took the resulting free-kick, which proved a comfortable enough save down low for Tonkin. Four minutes later some great interplay between Pearson and Carr saw the midfielder drive the ball across the face of goal, with Orrell inches away from converting it.
Deal were still posing the odd threat on the break, and big centre-back Kane Smith headed over from a corner on 56 minutes, but otherwise it was Consett who were knocking on the door and looked most like breaking the deadlock.
Carr had a free-kick saved by Tonkin, and then saw a well-struck shot blocked by a defender as Consett turned the screw, and Briggs shot straight at the keeper after being set up by Pearson.
The breakthrough came in the 76th minute, when Alshabeeb’s ball into the box found Luke Carr eight yards out, and the midfielder lifted the ball over Tonkin to open the scoring, pictured top.
Consett almost had a second goal on 83 minutes when a great pass by Carr picked out Orrell’s run, but Tonkin kept Deal in the game with an excellent save. The home side didn’t have to wait long for the clincher, just two minutes, in fact, as Carr’s right-wing corner picked out Arjun Purewal, who buried a header past Tonkin, pictured below.
Consett thought they had a third goal in the 90th minute when Pearson fired home via the keeper from Carr’s threaded pass, but his joy was short-lived as the linesman’s flag ruled him offside.
It didn’t matter, as, after four minutes of added time, the Steelmen had made it into the last eight of a national cup for the first time in their history in front of a bumper crowd of 866 – a record for a competitive game at Belle View.
* It was also a good day for Consett lad Luke Sullivan, who scored the extra-time winner which took fellow Northern League side Hebburn Town into the last eight as they won 1-0 at Longridge Town. There was to be no league treble, however, as West Auckland lost 2-1 at Plymouth Parkway, despite a goal from Arj’s brother Amar.
Now we can’t wait for Monday’s quarter-final draw, when Consett and Hebburn will be hoping to avoid each other and keep alive the dream of an all-Northern League final.
MATCH REPORT & PICTURES: GARY WELFORD
|08/02/2020||3:00 pm||FA Vase||2019-20|