Consett pushed league leaders Belper all the way at the Raygar Stadium but came home with nothing to show for their efforts, after relinquishing the lead to lose 2-1.
Despite being without the injured Matty Slocombe, suspended Ben Ramsey and unavailable Jake Orrell, they put in a good performance against hosts who were playing a division higher last season.
Manager Tony Fawcett made two changes to the team which had lost to Pontefract a week earlier. Nathan Greenwood came into the starting line-up for Ramsey, while Josh Baggs returned at right-back, with Calvin Smith moving into midfield.
The game pitted the highest scorers in the league against one of the meanest defences, and for much of the first half there was little to suggest that there would be many goals in the game as the teams effectively cancelled each other out.
There was an early scare for Belper in the seventh minutes when a quickly-taken free kick let in Zak Atkinson, who rounded the keeper, but the angle was too tight for him to shoot and there was no one to pull the ball back to in the middle.
With rain falling steadily, the pitch was very slick, and Belper’s Kevin Bastos became the first player in the referee’s notebook on 20 minutes when he caught Greenwood with a poor tackle.
The Steelmen had their first direct shot on 32 minutes when Wil Shaw struck a crisp effort straight at Jonathan Hedge, then at the other end Declan Dunn let fly from 20 yards, but the ball was always rising.
A better opportunity arrived for the Nailers on 37 minutes when Danny South nodded on a corner kick and Cameron Johnson sliced his shot wide, although the angle was tight.
Bastos attempted a glancing header that went wide of the goal just before half time, but the interval arrived with the game goalless.
Half-time: Belper Town 0 Consett 0
Consett came out for the second half in more determined mood, and Jack Gibbons had what he thought was a good penalty shout turned down when he knocked the ball past Mason Warren and it seemed to hit the left-back on the arm, but the referee was unimpressed.
However on 61 minutes the Steelmen were rewarded for their positive start to the second half when when Kaleb Young threaded a pass through to Wil Shaw, who finished from 10 yards, for his fifth goal of the season, pictured below.
Belper centre-back Kieran Walker – making his debut after signing on dual registration from Long Eaton – spent the afternoon launching huge throw-ins into the Consett box, but the visiting defence coped with everything that was thrown at them.
One such missile, in the 67th minute, skidded up off the wet turf and was kept out by Consett keeper James Anderson with a fine reaction save, diving to his left.
Young fired a 25-yarder just over the bar as Consett sought a second goal to give themselves some breathing space, but instead they found themselves pegged back in the 74th minute when their defence, for once, failed to deal with the long-throw threat.
The ball was flung in by Walker from the left, helped on by a head in the crowded area, and Kevin Bastos, the league’s top scorer, nipped in to glance home the equaliser from the flick-on.
The goal spurred the home side on, and there was a huge goalmouth scramble when Danny South’s header from a right-wing corner threatened to ricochet in, but the danger was somehow cleared.
The respite didn’t last long, however, and with their next attack the home side got what turned out to be the winner. Consett cleared their lines but the ball fell to sub James Cadman, who’d only been on the field a few minutes, 30 yards out.
He sent what appeared to be a speculative effort back into the danger zone, and the flight of the ball seemed to deceive Consett keeper Anderson, and it ended up in the top corner. Fluke or worldie, it didn’t matter, it would turn out to be the matchwinner.
Consett brought on another forward, Scott Fenwick, for the last 10 minutes as they sought a way back into a game they’d looked in control of, but it was to avail, as the remaining time and five added minutes passed without the Steelmen managing to conjure an equaliser.
MATCH REPORT & PICTURES: GARY WELFORD
- Full match report, manager interview and picture gallery to follow.
|Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One East