On this day in our history: 27 March 2018, Consett match champions-to-be Marske all the way

Consett made amends for one of their worst performances of the season on this day in 2018 when they picked up a well-earned point after going toe-to-toe with FA Vase semi-finalists Marske United.

Mark Eccles’ side had suffered one of their heaviest defeats of the season at Mount Pleasant back in November 2017, losing 5-1. But this game saw the Steelmen give as good as they got, defending superbly, and lacking just a little luck in front of goal against disciplined, hard-working opponents.

With four games in eight days to contend with, and the forthcoming Durham Challenge Cup final in mind, the squad was rotated, with Nathan Convery, Nick Cassidy, Calvin Smith and Nathan Lawrence coming in, and Clark Kay, Adam Male, Matty Slocombe and Jordan Lavery taking their turn at bench duty.

Both sides had chances from the start in a game which was an excellent advert for the Northern League. The first came after six minutes when one-time Steelman Peter Bulmer set up strike partner Danny Earl, whose shot came back off the inside of the post, with a little help from Kyle Hayes.

Consett keeper Kyle Hayes kept a clean sheet against Marske. Pic: Gary Welford.

Michael Mackay had a great chance on eight minutes after Lawrence stole possession as Marske tried to play their way out from the back, but the striker’s rising effort just cleared the bar. At the other end, Nick Cassidy produced a superb last-ditch tackle to block Adam Wheatley’s effort.

Three minutes later Mackay tried to round Robert Dean after receiving the ball in the left-hand channel, but the keeper came out on top. Mackay then fired over from the edge of the box after combining with strike partner Michael Sweet in a quick break.
Marske were playing good possession football, but almost overplayed themselves into trouble when Liam O’Sullivan’s backpass to Dean caught the keeper out of position, and came back off the post.

Consett’s Calvin Smith chests the ball down . Pic: Gary Welford.

On 20 minutes Consett had another good chance when Harrison Scott’s cross saw Dean miscue as he tried to punch clear, and the ball fell for Danny Craggs, whose shot under challenge from Bulmer went just wide.

Eight minutes before the break Dean pulled off a superb save, flinging himself to his left to keep out Craggs’ follow-up after his 30-yard free-kick came back to him off the defensive wall.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, with both teams enjoying spells on top. Earl fired just wide after a shot on the turn, Hayes saved well from Craig Gott, and Glen Butterworth saw a 25-yarder deflected wide as Marske enjoyed a good spell.

Consett missed a great chance to take the lead just before the hour, when Scott’s cross put Sweet in behind the Marske defence, only for his shot from an acute angle to glance off the far post.

Consett striker Michael Mackay takes aim at the Marske goal. Pic: Gary Welford.

A good spell from Consett saw Sweet, Smith and Lawrence all have shots blocked by some determined defending, and Sweet felt he had a strong case for a penalty after he went past Wheatley, and seemed to be pushed over, but the referee was having none of it.

Marske made a double substitution, taking off both forwards, and one of the replacements, Curtis Round, brought a good save from Hayes with his feet. But it was a defender who came closest to breaking the deadlock, as Josh Rowbotham’s header from Gott’s clever pass looked destined for the top corner, until Hayes intervened.

Cassidy, who shaded man of the match honours after his best performance in a Consett shirt, must have thought he was going to be the hero when he smashed a fierce drive goalwards in injury time, but Wheatley stuck his head in the way, and probably had some headache after the game.

Marske keeper Robert Dean punches clear under pressure. Pic: Gary Welford.

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, with both sides playing some excellent football. Consett stayed second, with Marske going third on goal difference.

The visitors went on to make up for their two-legged FA Vase defeat to neighbours Stockton Town by winning their second Northern League title in four years, and promotion to the Northern Premier League. Consett would go on to lift some long-overdue silverware of their own, in the shape of the Durham Challenge Cup – but that’s a story for another day…

CONSETT: 1 Kyle Hayes, 2 Nathan Convery, 3 Harrison Scott, 4 Arjun Purewal, 5 Ross Wilkinson, 6 Nick Cassidy, 7 Calvin Smith, 8 Danny Craggs (captain), 9 Michael Sweet, 10 Michael Mackay, 11 Nathan Lawrence (sub Adam Male). Subs not used: Clark Kay, Jordan Lavery, Matty Slocombe, Ross Coombe (GK).
MARSKE UNITED: 1 Robert Dean, 2 Josh Rowbotham, 4 Liam O’Sullivan, 4 Glen Butterworth, 5 Leon Carling, 6 Adam Wheatley (captain), 7 Gary Wood, 8 Craig Gott, 9 Daniel Earl (sub Curtis Round 69), 10 Peter Bulmer (sub James Fairley 69), 11 Reece Kelly (sub Lee Brockbank 76). Subs not used: Ian Clark, Lewis McDonald (GK).

Gary Welford