Consett suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since joining the Northern Premier League when they lost 3-1 at highly-fancied Worksop Town.
It was the Steelmen’s first-ever visit to the Windsor Foodservices Stadium, and not one they will care to repeat in a hurry after having to put in a backs-to-the-wall performance from first whistle to last.
Manager Andy Coyles made three changes to the starting line-up from the side which had lost at home to Bridlington three days earlier.
Ross Coombe, Ben Milburn and Cyril Giraud came in for Mark Foden, Evan Horwood and Colin Larkin, and there was a new face on the bench – teenage midfielder Daniel Smith.
The 18-year-old is a product of Spennymoor Town’s academy and has recently been playing for Northern League Division Two side Newcastle University.
Worksop had experienced the disappointment of defeat in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup at the weekend, but showed no signs of a cup KO hangover.
They dominated from the first whistle, with their central midfielder Paul Green, who has 22 full international caps for the Republic of Ireland, pulling the strings.
Jay Rollins struck a half-volley from inside the area after a lay-off from Green, which was deflected wide for a corner.
Moments later, Vaughan Redford took down a ball down from Jack Broadhead on the turn and his shot-cum-cross just evaded the sliding-in Rollins.
Consett suffered a blow in the 26th minute when skipper Matty Slocombe had to go off with a hamstring injury which could rule him out for a few games.
On 29 minutes, Worksop came close to opening the scoring after Terry Hawkridge dummied the ball into the path of Josh Wilde. His cross into the box saw Rollins nod the ball down to right-back Regan Hutchinson, whose effort was smashed into the side netting.
The Tigers continued to search for an opening goal as the half drew on and had a lot of possession but couldn’t find a way through the stubborn Consett defence.
With three minutes of the half remaining, Vaughan Redford had the ball in the net for Worksop with a close-range glancing header, but it was ruled out for offside.
A minute later, burly No 9 Liam Hughes rose highest from a corner and his bullet header smashed against the crossbar.
Half-time: Worksop Town 0 Consett 0
Three minutes after the restart, and completely against the run of play, Consett took the lead. Worksop messed up a free-kick on the edge of their opponents’ box, and Cyril Giraud broke quickly up the field.
He fed the ball out wide to Adam Mitchell, who pulled the ball back for Zak Atkinson to curl the ball into the back of the net from 18 yards.
It was an unlikely lead, as Consett had only ventured into the opposing penalty area once, but it merely increased the intensity of the home side’s attacks.
Keeper Ross Coombe made a superb save on 51 minutes, plunging low to his right to keep out Hughes’ header from a free-kick, and three minutes later he made another good stop from Hawkridge’s well-struck effort.
Redford then surged into the box and threaded the ball in to Hughes, who set up sub Liam Hardy, who blasted his shot wide of the post.
Consett were being pushed further and further back as their valiant defensive efforts started to take their toll, and they suffered a second injury blow when Calvin Smith was forced off in the 71st minute.
His replacement was club captain Arjun Purewal, making his first appearance in seven months in an unfamiliar right-back position.
He hadn’t had time to settle into the game when Worksop equalised in the 73rd minute, Vaughan Redford heading home from close range from Hardy’s pinpoint cross.
A second goal a minute later saw the Tigers take the lead, as left-back Josh Wilde turned the game around for Craig Parry’s side. Redford turned provider as he delivered a low cross into the box and Wilde tapped home at the back post.
With eight minutes left, Liam Hughes, who’d been a real handful all night, sewed up the points after Hardy raced down the right and crossed for him to prod into the net.
The win saw Worksop leapfrog Consett to go 7th in the table, with the Steelmen dropping to 9th.
There was no disgrace in losing to a hugely experienced and very impressive Worksop side who will be there or thereabouts when the championship is decided at the end of the season.
MATCH REPORT: GARY WELFORD
PICTURES: GARY WELFORD & STEPHEN FINCH
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