Consett displayed a mixture of fantastic football, grit and resilience as they maintained their position at the top of the Northern League with a 3-2 win at Whitley Bay in a wonderful advert for non-league football.
After missing a penalty and then going behind, goals from Calvin Smith and Jake Orrell put the visitors ahead after a scintillating first half, with only a tremendous display from home keeper Dan Lister keeping his side in it. In a very different second half, a goal from full-back James Martin was enough to secure the points, with Consett having to dig deep and defend for long periods to keep out a resurgent home side.
Manager Terry Mitchell was forced into two changes for the game, with Carl Lawson and Callum Guy coming in for Colin Larkin and Luke Carr, who were both unavailable. Whitley Bay meanwhile included dangerous striker Adam Shanks, who was absent for the reverse fixture at the start of September where Consett ran out comfortable winners.
The tone for the half was set in the very first minute as Consett launched an immediate attack that resulted in Guy being clearly fouled in the area and the referee pointing to the spot for a penalty kick. In the absence of Carr and the still-suspended Dale Pearson it was Stephen Callen who stepped up to take the spot kick, however his effort lacked power and Lister was able to make a comfortable save low to his right.
The visitors continued to push forward but it was Kyle Hayes who was called into action on eight minutes as an intended cross from Henry Dorward took a nasty deflection and the Consett keeper had to react quickly with his feet to stop the ball creeping in at the near post.
The Steelmen continued to push and the lively Guy was denied on 12 minutes as he latched onto a long ball and hit a firm drive from 20 yards that Lister did well to push round his post. A minute later the home side took the lead slightly against the run of play as Mitchell Ramsay got in behind the Consett defence and gave Hayes absolutely no chance as he advanced into the box and finished in the bottom corner.
Undeterred the visitors continued to play some lovely passing football and were close to an equaliser after a quarter of an hour as Lister was forced into another excellent full stretch save, this time by Callen.
The crucial part of the half and quite possibly the game arrived on 21 minutes as Michael Speed beat the Consett back line and went clean through on goal. He was denied by an excellent stop from Hayes and the play quickly moved straight up the other end, where a cross from Guy was knocked down into the path of Calvin Smith, who turned inside a defender and finished low from a tight angle to make it 1-1 when it had looked almost certain to be 2-0 to the home side only seconds earlier (Top image courtesy of Ken Taylor Photography).
The Steelmen really started to dominate and were close to taking the lead in the 26th minute as another ball over the top of the Bay defence sent Callen clean through. His attempted lob beat Lister but had just too much power and went over the bar.
The goal the visitors’ play deserved arrived on 33 minutes and it came via a fantastic trademark run down the right from Jermaine Metz, with his cut back from the byline finding an unmarked Jake Orrell only a few yards out for an easy tap-in.
Consett were threatening to run riot at this point and on 36 minutes more slick passing between Callen and Guy saw Callen hit an excellent effort that seemed destined for the top corner, only for Lister to intervene with another flying save.
However, the Whitley Bay custodian wasn’t done yet and he saved his best for the 39th minute as he denied Guy, tipping his effort round the post after a neat one-two with Carl Lawson, and from the resulting corner pushing a firm goalbound header from Callen onto the bar.
That was the last action of a breathless first half, with Consett going in a goal ahead but wondering how it wasn’t more.
Half-time: Whitley Bay 1 Consett 2
There was a much quieter start to the second half and we had to wait until the 53rd minute for the first effort on goal, and it was from Consett, who doubled their lead through the unlikely source of left-back James Martin.
A flowing move started on halfway with Guy and some lovely one-touch passing involving Lawson and Orrell resulted in the ball landing at the feet of Smith, who looked certain to score his second of the game, only to see his effort blocked on the line. The resulting attempt to clear the ball by a Whitley defender then cannoned off Martin into the bottom corner and while the finish had a hint of fortune about it, the move certainly deserved a goal.
Unfortunately, the two-goal cushion didn’t last, as Consett switched off on 57 minutes as a deep free-kick was played into the area and was nodded down to a strangely unmarked Adam Shanks who lashed the ball into the bottom-right corner from 12 yards out.
The home side were inspired by their second goal and soon started to dominate possession, with Consett struggling to get out of their own half at times. However, they defended well and denied Whitley Bay any clear-cut chances until the 74th minute when Martin and Nick Allen both lost their footing, which allowed Dorward to deliver a cross from the right, which Shanks blazed over the bar from close range.
It was very much a case of holding on now for Consett, with Lister in the Whitley Bay goal a virtual spectator after his first-half heroics. Consett brought on another defender, recent signing Danield Field, for his debut in place of attacker Carl Lawson with 11 minutes left as they tried to hang on to their lead.
The home side had a gilt-edged chance to equalise on 81 minutes as Michael Speed found himself well placed in the penalty area, but he shot just wide with Hayes well beaten.
Despite lots more home pressure and some dangerous corners in stoppage time, Consett dug in and held on for an excellent victory – and a vital three points given that North Shields, Newton Aycliffe and West Auckland all won.
MATCH REPORT: ANDY BALL
PICTURES: STEPHEN FINCH
|Northern League Division One