Consett get off to a winning start v Birtley Town in their opening pre-season friendly

Consett got off to a winning start under new manager Terry Mitchell tonight as they won their opening pre-season friendly 5-3 v Birtley Town from the Northern League 2nd Division.

It was literally a game of two halves, as both teams fielded a different XI in each half of the friendly at a sun-drenched Belle View Stadium.

There were plenty of new faces on show, with Consett fielding three different trialists in each half, as well as new signings Andrei-Vasile Ardelean, Jermaine Metz and Ali Al Shabeeb.

Jermaine Metz was one of the new signings on show for Consett.

But it was one of last season’s regulars, Darren Holden, who opened the scoring after 17 minutes, running onto a pass by one of the trialists to fire home left-footed from 12 yards.

Left-back Darren Holden gave Consett the lead.

Five minutes later it was 2-0 as Matty Slocombe took advantage of a wicked backspin from a ricocheting ball to head over Birtley keeper Phil Mills.

Matty Slocombe heads Consett’s second goal to make it 2-0.

On 39 minutes it was 3-0 when Ardelean opened his goal account for his new club, heading in from close range after Holden’s cross from the left was recycled.

Andrei-Vasile Ardelean is congratulated by skipper Arjun Purewal after making it 3-0.

Both sides changed all 11 players at half-time, and the new Consett line-up included Chris Rogan, who missed last season through injury, new signing Alex Johnson, and the returning Jake Stafford.

But the new Birtley side started the second half quicker, and reduced the arrears on 48 minutes when Kallum Broadhead saw young Consett keeper Jack Brown off his line and chipped him from 35 yards.

Three minutes later it was 3-2 when Broadhead played a deep free-kick into the box, and a looping header from Tom Little found the net.

Jake Stafford’s return to the club saw him take the captain’s armband for the second half.

Consett, skippered by Stafford, slowly grew into the game, and on 73 minutes made it 4-2, when A Trialist was fouled as he made a surging run to the byline, and picked himself up to slot home the resulting penalty.

Birtley weren’t finished, however, and on 80 minutes Nick Hay scored the goal of the game with a tremendous volley into the top corner to make it 4-3.

Consett’s trialist striker is brought down from behind for the second penalty, from which he made it 5-3.

But the last word went to the same trialist striker who had scored Consett’s fourth goal. he made another incisive run into the box, and when he was cut down from behind by a scything tackle, he again picked himself up to smash home the resulting penalty, to make the final score 5-3.

Consett supporters got their first look at new signing Ali Al Shabeeb.

Gary Welford