Consett’s bid to secure Northern Premier League football next season goes on after they lost 4-3 to high-flying Stockton Town in a thrilling game at Belle View today.
The depleted Steelmen went toe-to-toe with their play-off chasing visitors, but came up just short, and still need a point from their last two games to guarantee safety.
Manager Tony Fawcett made three changes from the side which lost at Carlton Town just 48 hours earlier, with Matty Slocombe coming in at right-back and Scott Fenwick returning up front. Dan Capewell was ruled out by the facial injury he suffered at the weekend, and Dylan Garvey dropped to the bench.
Stockton started brightly, and had their first chance after six minutes, when Kevin Hayes saw his shot headed off the line by Consett centre-back Ben Milburn. A minute later Mikey Roberts appealed for a penalty after going down under challenge from Milburn, but the referee was having none of it.
The visitors didn’t have to wait long to take the lead, as top scorer Kevin Hayes swapped passes with Stephen Thompson before burying the ball low into the bottom-right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Stockton were controlling possession, and had another chance on 17 minutes when Nathan Mulligan’s cross from the left picked out Roberts, who blazed his shot high and wide.
Consett were growing slowly into the game, and carved the visiting defence wide open with an excellent passing move on 24 minutes, but it came to nothing when Kieren Aplin chose to pass across the face of goal instead of taking on a shot.
Five minutes later they had their first attempt on goal when Fenwick picked the ball up outside the box and tried a shot, which was deflected behind for a corner.
On 33 minutes the home side had their best chance yet when Jake Orrell’s excellent pass beat the offside trap and put Aplin clean through, but Stockton keeper Callum Roberts stood up well to make a fine save, touching the ball over the bar.
Consett weren’t to be denied for long, however, and from Orrell’s left-wing corner Scott Fenwick volleyed home from six yards to make it 1-1 with his sixth goal of the season.
Five minutes before half-time Consett had another chance when Aplin cut in from the left and tried his luck, but his shot was high and wide. The half finished in feisty fashion, with Aplin and Stockton’s Cameron Painter booked after an altercation out on the touchline.
Half-time: Consett 1 Stockton Town 1
Seven minutes into the second half Consett’s injury jinx struck again when Arjun Purewal went down clutching his face after a challenge by Hayes which earned the Stockton man a yellow card. After lengthy treatment the skipper had to be substituted, and with no defenders on the bench, Fenwick dropped in to centre-back, with Adam Wrightson coming on up top.
Consett had the first chance of the half just after the hour when Stockton keeper Roberts spilled Calvin Smith’s right-wing cross and had to dive bravely at the feet of the incoming Wrightson, injuring himself in the process. Consett then had a half-chance when Fenwick’s knock-down found Danny Barlow, but the midfielder’s effort cleared the bar.
Midway through the half Stockton took the lead for the second time, with Dan McWilliams sending in a great cross from the left and Nathan Mulligan netting with a bullet header at the front post to make it 2-1.
On 74 minutes Consett’s afternoon got even worse when Stockton made it 3-1. Mulligan played a deep free-kick in from the left and skipper Tom Coulthard timed his run to the back post perfectly to volley home.
Four minutes later the Steelmen were right back in it, as some excellent work by Orrell saw him get to the byline and produce a pinpoint cross for Calvin Smith to head home and make it 3-2.
It was game on, but astonishingly Stockton regained their two-goal lead in the 83rd minute with a gift from Consett, as Fenwick played a wayward backpass to Mark Foden, which the keeper could only help into the net, and the own goal made it 4-2 to Stockton.
Given the history of goal-laden encounters between these two teams, it was no surprise when Consett scored again within a minute to make it 4-3, with Josh Baggs charging down an attempted clearance by the Stockton keeper, and Nathan Greenwood firing home the loose ball for this third goal in the last four games.
The drama wasn’t over yet, and in the third of five added minutes at the end of the game Stockton were awarded a very dubious penalty when Foden and Mulligan collided and the referee pointed to the spot. Justice was done when Hayes stepped up and placed his spot kick wide.
For all their efforts, Consett were unable to conjure up another chance to salvage a point, and when the final whistle went it was the visitors who were celebrating, as their victory secured them a play-off spot.
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