Consett recorded their best away win of the season, beating the Northern League 1st Division’s bottom club Norton & Stockton Ancients 4-0 to all but banish any lingering relegation fears, on this day back in 2013.
They strolled to victory in this Thursday night fixture at Norton Sports Complex, despite it being their third game in six days.
Manager Kenny Lindoe made two changes from the team which had lost to West Auckland 48 hours earlier, David Brown coming in for his first start of the season for the unavailable Ian Davidson, and Ryan Bell replacing Liam O’Mahoney, who dropped to the bench. Among those alongside him was Jack Stanger, newly returned from Blyth Spartans.
Norton included former Consett keeper – a recent emergency signing from Bedlington after their regular No 1 Jim Provett was injured.
Consett took the lead after just 14 minutes, when Matty Slocombe – restored to midfield after playing at left-back for most of the game against West Auckland – broke down the right, and laid the ball off to Aris Guerin-Lokonga on the edge of the area. The striker’s shot was saved by Norton, but top scorer Michael Mackay showed his goalsniffer’s instincts by following in to tap home the rebound.
A few minutes later Calvin Smith tested Norton with a free-kick from 25 yards, but he made a good, clean save. Consett’s didn’t have to wait long to double their advantage, however, and on 25 minutes it was 2-0, with Smith the provider. His floated cross from the right saw Slocombe contest the ball in the area with a defender on the left corner of the 18-yard box, and it dropped nicely for Mackay, who drilled it home from just inside the area.
The former Hartlepool man seems to be relishing having a new strike partner in Guerin-Lokonga, and they both came close, with Mackay’s follow-up flying just wide after the No 9’s effort had been blocked. Craig Robson was the next Steelman to try his luck, but his 25-yarder was just wide.
Consett suffered a blow five minutes before half-time when Bell had to go off injured, but the versatile Luke Sullivan – nominally a striker – came in and slotted straight in at right-back.
The start of the second half was fairly even as Norton tried to haul themselves back into the game, but their sole tactic seemed to be long balls into the visitors’ box, which were dealt with fairly comfortably. Even their manager, former Middlesbrough striker Andy Campbell, bringing himself on for John Seaton just after the hour failed to swing things in their favour, and it was Consett who got the game’s crucial third goal.
This time Mackay turned provider, breaking down the right and crossing the ball to the back post for Slocombe, who laid it back to Calvin Smith. The midfielder turned past a defender and drilled the ball into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area.
With Consett looking to introduce some fresh legs, Stanger came on for Andrew Cuthbertson on 73 minutes, but within a minute the Steelmen had handed their hosts a lifeline back into the game when they gave away a penalty, when a defender was adjudged to have tripped an opponent. However, keeper Chris Elliott preserved his clean sheet by diving to his right to pull off a fine save from Norton skipper Michael Jameson’s penalty.
Eight minutes from time, the result was put beyond doubt when Mackay completed his hat-trick – his third of the season – to make it 4-0 and kill off any prospect of a comeback by the Ancients. Slocombe was again involved, going past two players before threading the ball through to Mackay, who made no mistake with his finish, for his 30th goal of the season.
It was his last act, and he left the field to warm applause from the Consett followers, as he was replaced by Peter Jameson, with the goalkeeper reprising his cameo outfield appearances against Shildon a couple of years before and Stokesley the previous season. He almost got on the scoresheet too, but was thwarted by Norton as he followed in a Smith shot.
The final word almost went to Guerin-Lokonga, who put in another good shift, but he dragged a shot wide from 18 yards when he would have hoped to have scored.
Other midweek results meant Consett stayed in 16th place, with 48 points, and while not mathematically safe from the drop, with five of the teams below them still to play in their remaining 11 games, this result meant they would be looking up the table rather than down it for the remainder of the season. They went on to finish 9th, while Norton remained rock bottom and were relegated.
Norton: 1 Jack Norton, 2 Callum Wilson, 3 Matthew Bell, 4 John Seaton (Andrew Campbell 61), 5 Dale Mulligan, 6 Jack Proctor, 7 Andrew Harbron, 8 Stephen Oakley, 9 Anthony Hume, 10 Michael Jameson (captain), 11 James Magowan. Subs not used: Declan Jameson, Charlie Raby.
Consett: 1 Chris Elliott, 2 Michael Pearson, 3 David Brown, 4 Andrew Cuthbertson (Jack Stanger 73), 5 Ryan Bell (Luke Sullivan 40), 6 Carl Piecha (captain), 7 Matthew Slocombe, 8 Calvin Smith, 9 Aris Guerin-Lokonga, 10 Michael Mackay (Peter Jameson 83), 11 Craig Robson. Subs not used: Liam O Mahoney, David Robson.