Two goals from top scorer Dale Pearson got Consett’s interim manager Andy Coyles off to a winning start tonight as they beat Whickham 2-1 at Belle View Stadium.
But his side had to do it the hard way in their first game since former manager Terry Mitchell and his assistant Graeme Coulson left for Blyth Spartans, coming from behind to win.
The Steelmen showed four changes from the previous game, the 3-1 win at West Allotment 10 days before. Kyle Hayes returned in goal for Ross Coombe, James Martin came into midfield for the suspended Matty Slocombe, Calvin Smith returned for Carl Lawson, and Colin Larkin took the No 11 shirt from Dan Marriott.
Whickham, who have changed their manager since we beat them twice in a matter of days in the FA Cup and league back in August, came into the game on the back of a four-game winning run.
They had the first chance after just three minutes, when centre-forward Zak Atkinson ran onto a ball over the top, but his effort could only find the side netting.
Consett’s first chance came on nine minutes when Smith’s superb crossfield ball picked out Darren Holden, who was again playing an unfamiliar right-back role. He played a one-two with Dale Pearson, cut inside and fired just over with his left foot.
Pearson blazed over from a corner and Olly Scott fired into the side netting as Consett continued to take the game to their visitors, so it was a surprise when Whickham took the lead against the run of play in the 19th minute.
Jack Robson was the architect, embarking on a mazy run down the right, before squaring the ball to Zak Atkinson for a close-range tap-in at the back post.
Consett responded well, with Luke Carr firing just wide, Colin Larkin forcing the keeper into a good save at his near post, and Larkin again heading just wide from Jake Orrell’s cross.
They were knocking on the door, and came the closest yet in the 36th minute when Smith’s looping header was cleared off the line by defender Dom Agnew.
The deserved equaliser came in the 41st minute when right-back Ryan Bolton hauled down the marauding Scott, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Centre-forward Dale Pearson stepped up to take it, and calmly slotted home his 17th goal of the season beyond the reach of keeper James Anderson to make it 1-1.
Right on half-time Consett almost took the lead when Arjun Purewal flicked on a ball into the box, and James Martin’s header beat the keeper but came back off the post into his arms. At the other end Robson fired over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Half-time: Consett 1 Whickham 1
Consett started the second half brightly and took just five minutes to get what proved to be the matchwinning goal.
The busy Orrell took aim with a 25-yarder which the keeper culd only parry, and Larkin was first to the rebound to square for Dale Pearson to net from a few yards out, pictured top.
The big striker thought he had his second hat-trick of the season two minutes later when he beat the keeper to a loose ball after Larkin’s shot was blocked, but he was ruled offside.
They had more chances to make the game safe on the hour when Larkin turned his man on the edge of the box, and forced Anderson into a good low save, and Carr hit the bar direct from the resulting corner.
Five minutes later Consett had a big shout for a penalty, when Carr’s legs appeared to be taken from under him, but referee Zac Kennard-Kettle was having none of it.
The Steelmen looked set to see out the game in comfort, but the only black spot of the night came in the 85th minute when Dan Marriott, who’d come on as a sub for Darren Holden just before half-time, was sent off.
He was shown two yellow cards in the space of five minutes, first for kicking the ball away, and then for a fairly innocuous foul. Sadly, the red card which followed rules him out of the FA Vase game at Newcastle Benfield.
There was one late scare for Consett when Whickham sub Scott Robson went past a couple of players and played a neat one-two before firing his shot over the crossbar.
The majority of the bumper Friday night crowd of 568 headed home even happier when they heard that second-placed West Auckland Town had unexpectedly lost, 5-3 at home to West Allotment Celtic. That means Consett are now 10 points clear at the top of Division One.
|Northern League Division One