Consett picked up a first win in nine games to give their bid to avoid the relegation play-offs a timely boost.
Manager Tony Fawcett gave a debut to Dylan Garvey at left-back – the 12th different player to wear the No 3 shirt this season, and the seventh in the last seven games – while Josh Baggs returned from injury at right-back.
Scott Fenwick was unavailable, which meant Blyth Spartans loanee Danny Barlow was pressed into service as an emergency striker, alongside Nathan Greenwood. There was better news on the bench, where Zak Atkinson and Kieren Aplin were among the substitutes as they began their return from long injury lay-offs.
Both full-backs were involved in the move which saw Consett carve out the first chance of the game on five minutes, Garvey’s cross picking out Baggs late run to the back post, and the No 2’s header tested Sheffield keeper Jordan Pierrepont, with the loose ball hacked away before any home player could capitalise.
Midway through the half the same combination worked again for Consett, with the same result, another good save by Pierrepont from Baggs’ far post header.
It was a tight opening half, with chances at a premium, and Sheffield’s best came on 29 minutes when home keeper Mark Foden scuffed a clearance to Luke Aldrich, but the striker put his shot well wide.
Ten minutes later the visitors had another chance when they caught their hosts napping at a corner. The ball was played short to the lively Basile Zottos, but luckily Foden was more alert than his defenders and dealt with the shot comfortably.
That was it as far as first-half goalscoring opportunities went, and half-time was reached with the score at 0-0.
Half-time: Consett 0 Sheffield 0
Sheffield started the second half brightly, and Foden was again tested on 48 minutes by Rory Coleman’s free-kick, but again proved more than equal to it.
Ben Milburn was shown the game’s first – and only – yellow card in the 52nd minute for a high challenge on Benni Ndlovu.
The deadlock was broken in the 57th minute when Nathan Greenwood went on a mazy run, swapping passes with Calvin Smith, and scored his first goal for the club with a neat dinked finish past Pierrepont.
Consett had only scored twice in their previous seven games, so the relief around the ground was palpable, and three minutes later the atmosphere rose another level when Jake Orrell buried a volley into the bottom corner from 25 yards to make it 2-0, giving the keeper no chance.
Sheffield almost reduced the arrears on 69 minutes when Ndlovu set up Connor Cutts, but Foden managed to tip his shot onto the post, and Ndlovu’s follow-up was blocked on the line by Milburn. A minute later sub Corey Glaves saw a goalbound header cleared off the line as Sheffield enjoyed their best spell of the game.
The final word went to Consett’s top scorer Zak Atkinson, who came on as a sub after seven weeks out injured and made it 3-0 in the last minute, spotting Pierrepont off his line and lobbing him from 40 yards for his 12th goal of the season.
It was a perfect end to a perfect day for Consett, with defeats for relegation rivals Shildon and Grantham and Lincoln only managing a draw. The result lifted the Steelmen to 12th, and put a little daylight between them and the danger zone. Another couple of performances like this and everybody will be wondering what all the fuss was about.
REPORT: GARY WELFORD
PICTURES: GARY WELFORD & KENNY TAYLOR
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