An injury-time goal from veteran striker Colin Larkin gave Consett’s season a much-needed lift tonight as they twice came from behind to secure a cup semi-final place by beating West Auckland Town 3-2.
Andy Coyles’ side put in their best performance for weeks against the same visitors who they had ground out a 1-0 win over in the league seven days earlier.
The result means Consett travel to Ashington for a Division One Cup semi-final on Tuesday 12 April – four days before they complete their league fixtures with a game against the same opponents at Belle View Stadium.
Consett were the better side in the first half, and it was against the run of play that West Auckland took the lead on 38 minutes, as Ross Wilkinson headed the ball into his own net under challenge from Gary Brown as they contested a free-kick.
A minute later Consett were level, from another set play. Jake Orrell played the ball in from the right, Wilkinson did well to keep it alive in a melee of bodies, and Alex Francis fired home from close range against one of his old clubs, pictured below.
However, parity lasted just three minutes, as Francis went from goalscoring hero to villain, tripping Jordan Blinco to gift West a penalty, which Arron Thompson converted.
It remained 2-1 at half-time, but Consett, whose football was much more fluid than in recent weeks, were back on the front foot right from the start of the second half, creating chance after chance.
Dan Marriott fired just wide, David Dowson had a shot cleared off the line after the keeper dropped a corner, and Orrell’s 20-yard free-kick hit the post as the Steelmen poured forward.
The pressure was rewarded on 65 minutes when Luke Carr’s excellent pass picked out Calvin Smith‘s run to the back post, and he tucked the ball under the keeper to make it 2-2, pictured below.
There was a let-off for Consett in the 69th minute as West’s top scorer Blinco failed to convert from close range, but just as the game looked like it was heading for penalties there was one final twist.
In the first of three minutes of added time, Orrell’s corner from the right caused chaos in the West box, and Colin Larkin pounced on the loose ball, turned and fired home his 16th goal of the season to take Consett through.
It was just reward for a fine team performance, where every player showed their battling qualities against tough opponents, as well as playing their best passing game for quite some time.
- Full match report, stats and more pictures to follow.