New striker Scott Heslop got his Consett career off to a dream start, scoring a debut double to give them a 3-2 win at Seaham Red Star.
The 27-year-old, signed from Northern Premier League side Dunston on 29 December, had to settle for a place on the bench for his new club’s first game of 2022.
But after coming on he immediately made his mark to inspire the league leaders to a vital win in a game where they twice came from behind.
The festive break’s other new signing, the returning Nick Cassidy, went straight into the starting XI, as one of three changes made by manager Andy Coyles, whose interim position was made permanent during the three-week festive break.
Cassidy came in for Dan Marriott at right-back, Nick Allen replaced Olly Scott at left-back, and Colin Larkin returned in place of Luke Carrand but the opening 45 minutes was nothing to write home about for either side.
A minute’s applause was held before kick off in memory of Seaham president Jimmy Ferguson, who had died during the week, and the home side seemed determined to win the game in his memory, starting the game by far the brighter.
Midfielder Mark McLeod, on loan from Hebburn Town, tried his luck after picking up a loose ball, but fired well wide, and James Robinson curled a shot past Kyle Hayes’ post as Seaham pressed hard in the first 10 minutes.
On 16 minutes Consett were grateful to Calvin Smith for a last-ditch challenge which denied Jamie Clark a clear shot at goal from six yards out, aand they had an even better chance on 23 minutes when Liam Heywood’s pass put Lennox through, but Hayes stood up well to save his dinked effort.
Consett had created very little, but thought they should have had a penalty on 35 minutes, when Colin Larkin was flattened from behind by Jordan Patterson, but the referee decided it was inches outside the box rather than inside.
Five minutes before half-time Larkin and Dale Pearson combined well outside the box, but the No 9’s shot was deflected wide for a corner, which came to nothing.
Half-time: Seaham Red Star 0 Consett 0
The game burst into life five minutes into the second half when Seaham striker Jamie Clark, on loan from Blyth Spartans, curled a tremendous effort into the top corner from 25 yards to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted only a minute, as Consett equalised through the unlikely figure of Matty Slocombe, who buried a shot in the bottom corner from 25 yards to make it 1-1.
It was the popular midfielder’s first goal of the season, and his first in nearly two years, the last being in a 4-1 win over Ashington on 25 January 2020.
Five minutes later Consett had another big penalty shout when Pearson powered into the box and went down under challenge from Max Nelson, but the referee decided the centre-back got the ball and gave a corner.
Slocombe thought he had a second goal on 65 minutes when his header from a setpiece struck the bar, bounced down and was cleared off the line by Joe Hailes. The Consett midfielder was adamant his effort had crossed the line, but the referee ruled otherwise.
A minute later Seaham had an excellent chance when Clark was sent clear, but Hayes stood up well to save with his feet. There was nothing the Consett keeper could do to prevent Seaham retaking the lead on 77 minutes, however, as Adam Lennox went past three defenders before finishing past Hayes to make it 2-1.
Consett responded well, and on 79 minutes they were denied an equaliser when Pearson was ruled offside as he bundled Cassidy’s cross into the net with the help of a defender.
But on 80 minutes they got a goal that did count, when Scott Heslop, who’d come on for Carl Lawson on 57 minutes, glanced a superb header into the bottom corner from Cassidy’s right-wing cross.
The game was anyone’s now, and Consett were grateful to James Martin for a 90th-minute goal-line clearance which kept the score at 2-2.
Seaham keeper Andrew Jennison saved well from Slocombe as Consett went in search of a winner, and Larkin slipped inside the six-yard box as he tried to convert the rebound.
Just when it seemed like the game was heading for a draw, Scott Heslop stuck out a leg at fellow sub Lewis Green’s cross from the right to give Consett a 94th-minute winner.
The victory means they went eight points clear of second-placed Thornaby at the top of the table, though many of the chasing pack saw their games called off.
|08/01/2022||2:00 pm||Northern League Division One||2021-22|