Managerless Consett came within five minutes of ending their eight-game winless streak against Grantham Town.
The Steelmen were rocked by the resignation of manager Andy Coyles and assistant Richie Hill the day before the game. But with backroom team Ben Cole, Gav Scott and Macauley Musgrave in charge, they came within a whisker of ripping up the form book with a spirited performance against a side who’d only lost once in their last seven games.
Consett made two changes to the starting XI from the midweek defeat by Stocksbridge Park Steels. Josh Baggs, a new signing from Seaham Red Star, was given his debut at right-back, with Calvin Smith switching to centre-back in place of the absent Arjun Purewal, and Kieren Aplin coming in for the unavailable Colin Larkin.
As well as Purewal and Larkin, Consett were without Karl Byrne, Ben Milburn, Matty Slocombe, Mark McLeod and Charlie Exley, but they made light of the fact they had seven players unavailable by starting the game brightly.
Indeed, the home side had the first chance of the game on nine minutes when centre-forward Zak Atkinson headed just over from a corner by skipper-for-the-day Jake Orrell.
A couple of minutes later there was another chance for Consett when a nice piece of play by Aplin and Atkinson teed up Orrell, who fired over the bar from 25 yards.
It was against the run of play that Grantham took the lead with their first real attack on 14 minutes, with a right-wing corner from Steve Leslie powerfully headed home by centre-back Ashton Hall for 0-1.
Consett responded well to going behind, with Declan Bisset firing just wide after good approach play by Cyril Giraud and Aplin. Giraud then saw an effort deflected wide, and Smith headed past the post from a corner.
Grantham midfielder Leslie had their only other effort of note from distance on 36 minutes, which took a wicked deflectioon off a defender but dipped over the bar.
Half-time: Consett 0 Grantham Town 1
The visitors made a change at the break, with Bradley Munns replacing skipper Jake Wright at centre-back, and they had the second half’s first chance, when right-back Matt Tootle joined the attack, but skewed his shot well wide.
The half was only six minutes old when Consett deservedly equalised. New boy Baggs picked out Zak Atkinson with a great cross from the right, and the in-form No 9 volleyed his fourth goal in his last six games into the roof of the net.
The next 15 minutes lost its momentum a little due to a spate of yellow cards and substitutions, and it was Grantham who had the next chance, with Consett keeper Ross Coombe saving well at his near post from Kieran Hayes on 67 minutes.
Tootle then set up Leslie, whose excellent effort with the outside of his foot flashed inches wide of the right-hand post. It was the visitors’ best spell of the match, and on 70 minutes Dan Capewell made a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent striker Cameron Johnson breaking through with only the keeper to beat.
Consett brought on striker Scott Fenwick for Giraud and had a chance of their own when Aplin headed over from Orrell’s left-wing corner.
On 74 minutes the Steelmen got their noses in front with another well-worked goal. Sub Adam Mitchell’s pass found Aplin on the left, and his pinpoint cross picked out Zak Atkinson to head home at the back post for his second goal of the game and eighth of the season.
Grantham responded strongly, as you’d expect from a side who were in the NPL Premier Division last season, and on 85 minutes they broke Consett hearts when Matt Tootle squeezed a shot in at the near post with the help of a big deflection.
The visitors had a couple of chances to take all three points, which would have been very harsh on their hosts. Tootle fired another effort wide, and Coombe made another vital save, tipping over Johnson’s shot.
When the final whistle went it was honours even, with Grantham drawing for the sixth time in 11 league games, and Consett’s winless stretching to nine games, despite another decent performance.
Apart from the late equaliser, the other negative aspect of the game from Consett’s point of view was picking up seven yellow cards, plus another for coach Musgrave, which will surely land them in hot water with the FA.
|05/11/2022||3:00 pm||Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One East||2022-23|