Consett have been drawn into the heart of the Northern Premier League relegation fight after suffering a 3-0 defeat today at Grantham Town, the division’s second-bottom side.
Conceding two goals in the first half left Tony Fawcett’s team with a mountain to climb, and a third late in the game left them just a point outside the relegation play-off places.
The Steelmen’s side was much stronger than the one which drew at home to Ossett United last week, with Ben Milburn, skipper Arjun Purewal and Adam Mitchell returning to the defence.
But it was Consett’s failure to take three good chances in the first half which ultimately cost them the game.
They fell behind after just five minutes when Danny Barlow gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position on the right of the penalty area. McCrory floated the ball in and burly striker Gregg Smith powered home an unmarked header at the back post to make it 1-0.
It took until midway through the half for Consett to show their attacking teeth, when Milburn recycled a half-cleared free-kick to set up Jake Orrell, but the keeper was off his line quickly to save at the expense of a corner.
From the resulting flag-kick centre forward Scott Fenwick had a clear header at goal, but put his powerful effort, pictured below, inches over the bar.
Grantham almost doubled their lead on 37 minutes when a mix-up between Consett keeper Mark Foden and Milburn saw Lee Shaw nip in, but his lobbed effort bounced wide of the far post.
On 42 minutes Consett had another chance to level when Barlow was pushed over right on the edge of the box. He took the resulting free-kick himself, but his left-footed effort narrowly cleared the crossbar, pictured below.
A minute before the break Grantham doubled their lead. A quick break saw Shaw crash a shot against the bar, and left-back Joe Stacey reacted to the rebound quickest to fire home.
Being 2-0 down at half-time left the Steelmen with a mountain to climb, but for the first quarter of an hour of the second half they gave it a real go.
Fenwick hit a rising 25-yarder over the top, Nathan Greenwood had one shot, pictured below, saved and another blocked, and Matty Slocombe fired inches wide from 25 yards.
Again the misses would come back to haunt Consett, as they conceded again in the 77th minute to kill any hope of a comeback. A corner from the left saw Foden’s punch fall straight to Ashton Hall, who smashed it back past him on the volley.
There was no way back from that, and the defeat means it’s now eight games since Consett won a game, picking up just three points out of the last 24.
Wins for Lincoln United and Shildon reduced Consett’s cushion between their 14th place and the relegation play-off places to just one point, though they can take slight solace from the fact that Brighouse Town and Carlton Town – who we face in our final two away games – both lost today.
Tadcaster Albion, who lost 2-0 at home to Stocksbridge Park Steels, are relegated.
- Full match report and more pictures to follow.