Leaders Consett suffered an unexpected setback in their quest for the Northern League title today as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Redcar Athletic.
With the pitch at Green Lane waterlogged, the first-ever meeting between the clubs – billed as the ‘Steelmen’s derby’ – was switched to Belle View at less than 24 hours’ notice.
But there were no home comforts for Consett, who went behind early on, equalised just before half-time, only to concede again late on.
Manager Andy Coyles made seven changes to the side which had won at North Shields in the cup in midweek, but it was Redcar who took the initiative by scoring in the ninth minute.
They were awarded a free-kick on the left, which was whipped in by Lee Farrington, and Kamal Ait El Haj was on hand to score from close range. It was his first goal for the club on his first start, after three sub appearances.
James Martin and Jake Orrell both curled chances wide and Dale Pearson and Alex Francis were off target with headers as Consett responded well.
Just when it seemed like the visitors would get to the break with their lead intact, Consett equalised two minutes into added time. Luke Carr’s pass sent Colin Larkin in on goal, and the Irishman made no mistake to plunder his 12th goal of the season, pictured below.
The second half saw Scott Heslop on for Pearson, and Carr forced Redcar keeper Matthew Bateman into a good save within a minute of the restart.
Larkin had a great chance on 55 minutes after Orrell found him at the back post, and although he controlled it superbly and beat his man, he dragged his shot wide.
Consett had plenty of possession, but created few clear-cut chances against a very well-organised Redcar side, who almost regained their lead in the 61st minute, but for a superb tackle by Dan Capewell on an opponent who looked clean through.
Both sides rang the changes, with the game losing some of its momentum as a result, but it was Redcar who dug out a winner in the 84th minute when Nicky Martin’s cross found top scorer Isaac Walker, who grabbed his 19th goal of the season.
Consett threw the kitchen sink at their visitors, but couldn’t find a way through, even with the help of six minutes of added time due to a couple of lengthy injury stoppages.
When the final whistle went the home side had suffered their first home league defeat in five months, but just how damaging it is to their title aspirations remains to be seen.
- Full match report, stats and more pictures HERE.