Consett picked up one of their best points of the season after an already-depleted side managed to draw 0-0 at Bridlington Town after playing almost half the game with 10 men.
Manager Tony Fawcett was unable to call on eight players for the game through a combination of injuries, suspensions and covid, while three players who probably would have started recently left the club. The absentees included the entire first-choice midfield of Calvin Smith, Matty Slocombe and Jake Orrell, who have 975 games for the club between them.
Their absence meant full debuts for teenagers Daniel Smith and Oscar Taylor, another start for on-loan Danny Barlow, and Adam Mitchell pressed into service in central midfield. The Steelmen were also only able to name two substitutes, both young players from the reserve team.
But his decimated side responded with a superb battling performance despite having their goalkeeper sent off early in the second half.
The game started in cagey fashion, but exploded into life in the fifth minute when Consett had goalkeeper Mark Foden booked when he came charging out of his box to tackle Andy Norfolk,
He seemed to take the ball, but caught the striker with a studs-up challenge, pictured below, and despite the home side’s claims that it should be a red card, the referee showed only yellow – for now.
On 10 minutes Taylor had a half-chance to put the visitors ahead when he seized on a poor defensive header, but the young striker sent his half-volley narrowly wide.
Three minutes later Taylor had another chance when he ran onto a poor backpass, but this time the angle was too tight and he dragged his shot wide.
On 15 minutes Bridlington had an excellent chance when a corner fell to Benn Lewis, who scored the winner when Bridlington won 3-2 at Belle View in October. He struck his shot well, but Foden instinctively stuck out a strong right hand to make a good save.
Edward Rogerson then had an effort from a half-cleared corner, but saw it deflected wide, before No 9 Lewis Dennison worked a good opening for himself, beating two men, but shot high and wide.
The half ended with bookings, for the two No 10s, Scott Fenwick and Andy Norfolk, both for fouls, and Consett were pleased with their cobbled-together side’s endeavours as half-time was reached with the game still goalless.
Half-time: Bridlington Town 0 Consett 0
Foden got lucky a couple of minutes into the second half when an attempted clearance bounced back off a Bridlington forward, and threatened to fall to another home player, but the keeper raced across his box to pounce on the ball and avert the danger.
A couple of minutes later Consett had a chance when skipper Arjun Purewal, filling in at right-back, played in Daniel Smith, but the teenager’s shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.
From the resulting flag-kick Consett had another chance, when Charlie Exley’s cross to the back post picked out Fenwick, whose header was straight at Bridlington keeper James Hitchcock. The home side then had a chance through the lively Ali Aydemir, but Foden saved well.
After such an encouraging start to the half for Consett, after 10 minutes it all went downhill when Foden received a second yellow card followed by the inevitable red, pictured below, after a moment of madness.
Bridlington played in a cross from the right which missed everyone in the centre, and Nick Hutton went after the ball, which was heading out for a throw-in on the far touchline. But Foden chased after him, and lunged into a rash and completely unnecessary challenge which felled the Bridlington No 11.
With no spare keeper on the bench, Scott Fenwick went in goal, and the big striker was quickly involved in the action, coming out to punch away a cross.
Aydemir fired a shot across goal after a break down the right, and Fenwick then saved from Hutton as Bridlington tried to make the most of their numerical advantage.
Consett defended deep, looking to play on the break, and though there were more yellow cards for Purewal, Ben Milburn and Daniel Smith as they fought a superb rearguard action, Bridlington rarely looked like scoring.
When they did get a clear sight at goal, in the 82nd minute, Fenwick made a superb save from Lewis, tipping his goalbound effort over the bar, pictured below.
It was a save worthy of securing a point, and the Steelmen more than proved their mettle by holding out for the rest of the game, plus five minutes added time, to claim a point which they certainly would have settled for before the game.
The result left them 10th, with 35 points – eight off the promotion play-offs and the same number clear of the bottom-four places.
REPORT & PICTURES: GARY WELFORD
|18/02/2023||3:00 pm||Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One East||2022-23|