Consett were the better side for the third time in three meetings with Bridlington Town – and for the third time they tasted defeat.
The Seasiders, who needed a last-minute goal on the final day of last season to avoid relegation, took their chances when it mattered to leave Belle View with a 3-2 win – the same scoreline by which they won in the FA Cup the previous season.
Consett went into the game in confident mood after beating West Auckland on penalties in midweek to progress in the Durham Challenge Cup. Andy Coyles made two changes to the starting XI, with Evan Horwood and Jake Orrell coming in for Ben Milburn and Mark McLeod.
The Steelmen made a positive start to the game, with Orrell trying his luck directly from the kick-off after spotting the keeper off his line, but his attempt was too high.
In the fifth minute Zak Atkinson tested James Hitchcock with a good header from a corner, but the Bridlington keeper made a good save down to his right.
On nine minutes Consett skipper Matty Slocombe tried to curl one in fron 25 yards, and althought it was on target it didn’t trouble the keeper.
A minute later Consett thought they had the lead when Jake Orrell stuck out a boot at Adam Mitchell’s shot to divert the ball home, but their joy was shortlived as he was immediately ruled offside.
Two minutes later, against the run of play, the visitors took the lead with a simple goal. Mark Broadley picked up the ball in midfield and beat a couple of men before firing into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
In the 19th minute Consett had a great chance to level when Karl Byrne’s cross from the right found Zak Atkinson six yards out, but it was slightly behind him and he couldn’t readjust in time to direct an effort on target.
Consett suffered a further blow midway through the first half when Calvin Smith limped off, to be replaced by Milburn, while a few minutes later Bridlington lost their skipper Matty Plummer to injury, with Jack Yates taking his place.
Bridlington had a chance to add to their lead in the 23rd minute when Andy Norfolk found himself in on goal, but he fired wide of the right-hand post.
Otherwise it was Consett doing most of the attacking as they sought parity; Byrne fired over after cutting in from the right, Colin Larkin fired wide from a wide position, and Adam Mitchell’s snapshot from 25 yards flew over after Slocombe’s powerful surge forward.
The home side were enjoying a lot of possession as the half wore on, forcing a series of corner, but it was from open play that they equalised in the 42nd minute.
After some good work down the left by Evan Horwood he slipped the ball to Orrell, whose pinpoint cross picked out Zak Atkinson to head home from 10 yards for his fourth goal of the season.
The score remained 1-1 at half-time, though Consett had a let-off in injury time when a header from Jack Bulless was cleared off the line by Milburn, with Bridlington claiming that the ball had crossed the line.
Half-time: Consett 1 Bridlington Town 1
Consett again started the second half on the front foot, and in the 49th minute Orrell brought the best save of the game from Hitchcock, when he unleashed a well-struck effort from 25 yards, which the keeper pawed away at full stretch.
Larkin fired over as Consett continued to press, but Bridlington’s defence stood strong and they took the lead for the second time on 77 minutes when home keeper Mark Foden came for Norfolk’s left-wing corner through a crowd of bodies but couldn’t reach the ball, leaving Jack Bulless with a simple header to make it 2-1.
Six minutes later it was 3-1, and again the finger of blame was pointed at Foden. Coming for another Norfolk corner, this time he reached the ball, but his punch was weak and fell straight to right-back Benn Lewis, who fired it straight back past him to put Town in the driving seat.
Substitute Declan Bisset gave Consett hope in the 89th minute when his 25-yarder from Atkinson’s knockdown beat the keeper with the help of a big deflection off a defender.
With five minutes of time added, Consett pushed hard for an equaliser, but there was a flashpoint in injury time when Hitchcock saved a shot and then claimed he had been kicked in the head by the following-in Kieren Aplin.
The Consett man protested his innocence, but the referee decided it was a yellow card, and precious seconds were wasted by the keeper’s flagrant time-wasting.
Moments later Hitchcock went down clutching his head again after dropping on a ball unchallenged, making him even less popular with the home crowd, and when the final whistle went his over-the-top celebrations in front of supporters behind the goal did nothing to endear him to the Consett faithful.
This and other results saw Bridlington leapfrog Consett to go fourth in the table, while the Steelmen dropped three places to sixth, just outside the play-off positions.
MATCH REPORT: GARY WELFORD
PICTURES: GARY WELFORD, STEPHEN FINCH & KENNY TAYLOR
|15/10/2022||3:00 pm||Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One East||2022-23|