Consett lost the inaugural ‘Steel Cup’ in front of a bumper crowd of 381 – but more importantly saw their lead at the top of the Northern League cut to six points by a 2-1 defeat at Redcar Athletic.
It was the same scoreline by which the newly-promoted Teessiders won at Belle View three weeks earlier, giving them a league double over their fellow Steelmen after our first-ever meetings.
The result tips the balance of the championship race in favour of closest rivals North Shields, who beat Penrith 5-0, and now have 65 points to our 71, but with four games in hand.
Consett made three changes to the side which had drawn at North Shields in midweek, with Ross Coombe in goal for the unavailable Kyle Hayes, skipper Arjun Purewal returning in defence in place of Ross Wilkinson, and Luke Carr coming in for Carl Lawson.
The opening exchanges were tense, and Consett had the first real chance midway through the half when defender Matty Ridley had a header from a corner cleared off the line by Jordan Rivis.
A minute later No 9 Scott Heslop looked certain to score when a Lewis Green pass sent him clear on goal, but he put his effort high and wide.
Consett did take the lead on 27 minutes, when Darren Holden’s long throw was chested down by Heslop, and James Martin fired home from 15 yards, pictured below.
But the home side were level within a minute when dangerman Isaac Walker, who scored the winner at Belle View, cut in from the left and struck a shot which took a wicked deflection off Jake Orrell which sent the ball looping over goalkeeper Ross Coombe.
Luke Carr had an effort deflected wide on 34 minutes as Consett sought to regain the lead, and five minutes later Coombe’s outstretched leg prevented Walker from putting Redcar ahead, after the No 11 burst into the penalty area and fired in a low, hard shot which was headed into the corner.
Half-time: Redcar Athletic 1 Consett 1
A penalty shootout between supporters during the break saw Consett triumph 4-3, with keeper Peter Lockeron saving three kicks and Sam Martin slamming home the decisive kick.
Consett had a chance a couple of minutes into the second half, when a misplaced backpass gave Luke Carr a chance, but he badly miscued in front of goal.
The winning goal came on 55 minutes, when Isaac Walker picked up the ball from Lee Farrington halfway inside the Consett half and ran at their defence before arrowing a shot high into the left hand corner from 20 yards out to make it 2-1.
Consett rang the changes, bringing on three substitutes in a bid to get back into the game, and one of them, David Dowson, pictured top, almost equalised on 77 minutes, but saw his 20-yarder touched onto the base of the post by Redcar keeper Matthew Bateman.
That was as near as the visitors got to finding an equaliser, as they launched increasingly desperate long ball after long ball, only for the Redcar defence to hold firm and deny them a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity.
The home side’s front three also kept the Consett defence on their toes with probing runs, and despite five minutes of added time, the visitors never really looked like scoring.
The result meant Redcar were the first team to complete a league double over their visitors, and mathematically certain of retaining their Division One status in their first season in the top flight. For Consett, another North Shields win saw their lead at the top cut, but it was their own recent slump in form which was of more concern.
MATCH REPORT & PICTURES: GARY WELFORD
|Northern League Division One