There was a distinct end-of-season feel about the game the last time Consett played on this date, back in 2010.
They faced Ashington at the old Belle Vue Park ground on a beautiful day for football, and two sides with nothing tangible to play for drew 1-1 – a fair result on a fairly uneventful afternoon.
Young goalkeeper Sam Grieveson made his debut for Consett, and another recent signing, Sean Best, was on the bench. Midfield stalwarts Gary Ormston and David Pounder were both absent, forcing Jonjo Dickman and Gavin Parkin into unfamiliar wide roles, while Chris Scott stepped in at right-back.
Ashington skipper James Harmison was cheered on by his famous cricketing brothers Ben and Steve, and the Colliers included two players who would become Steelmen at a later date, midfielder Scott Blandford and winger David Colvin, who came on as a sub.
The game started at a snail’s pace, and while Consett registered fairly harmless long-range efforts from Bates and Parkin, Ashington didn’t manage to trouble debutant Grieveson at all in the opening stages.
Things did burst into life in the 20th minute when fantastic work down the right-hand side from Huggins and Bates found Gavin Parkin all on his own six yards out. However, his firm effort was acrobatically cleared on the line by an Ashington defender.
Amazingly, within seconds visiting centre forward Keith Douglas found himself clean through on goal, and while he comfortably beat Grieveson, the post came to Consett’s rescue.
Five minutes later Douglas looked as though he might get a chance to make amends with an identical chance, but Grieveson was smartly off his line to clear before the Ashington man could get the ball under control.
The game was returning to its initial sluggish pace when Consett broke the deadlock on 30 minutes. Good work from Dickman found Brian Dodsworth on the edge of the penalty area, and the No 10 expertly guided the ball into the bottom-left corner with the outside of his right foot. It was a goal worthy of a better game, as was the celebration – a double somersault!
Half-time arrived with little further action, and The Steelmen one goal to the good.
Sadly for the home team the second half got off to a quicker start, and Ashington were level on 50 minutes. Chris Scott was the unfortunate victim of a horrific bobble on the edge of his own area, and this allowed Douglas to chip in expertly from 12 yards. It was the game’s second excellent finish.
The visitors were controlling the game more at this point, with Andrew Johnson in particular causing problems down the right-hand side, and on 57 minutes Grieveson made his first meaningful save when he was smartly down low to his right to deny a drive from the lively Douglas.
The game petered out somewhat in the last 30 minutes, and while Ashington had the better of possession, they never really looked like capitalising on it, apart from a goalmouth scramble following a corner in the 76th minute. For Consett, Guy Bates was holding the ball up well, but he was very much fighting a lone battle, with support in short supply.
The final meaningful effort came in the 90th minute when Steven Huggins fired narrowly wide from 20 yards, but a game which had an element of ‘end of season’ about it ended in a fair 1-1 draw.
Ashington went on to finish 6th – their best league position in 30 years – while Consett were a disappointing 10th. It was the signal for a summer clearout which would see only a handful of these players remain at the club the following season, when the Steelmen would again emerge as title contenders.
Consett: 1 Sam Grieveson, 2 Chris Scott, 3 John Ewart (sub Sean Best), 4 Andrew Cuthbertson, 5 Graham Irving, 6 Carl Piecha, 7 Jonjo Dickman, 8 Steven Huggins, 9 Guy Bates, 10 Brian Dodsworth, 11 Gavin Parkin (sub Paul Henderson-Reay). Subs not used: Moore, Curry, Nolan.
Ashington: Dryden, Houlsby, Walmsley, Carr, Atkin, Harmison, Johnson, Blandford (O’Rea), Douglas, Taylor (Colvin), Baptist. Subs not used: Nickalls, Dunn.