A stunning strike from their No 2 was enough for Consett to beat dogged Billingham Town at a bitterly cold Belle View tonight in a fitting way to mark ‘all twos day’.
Right-back Nick Cassidy, re-signed from North Shields in early January, scored the only goal of a hard-fought victory over the relegation-threatened visitors in the 73rd minute.
He met a Darren Holden cross from the left on the volley with his right foot, pictured top, smashing the ball past former Consett keeper Jack Norton to secure a deserved win.
The victory means Consett are now 11 points clear at the top of Division One of the Northern League, with nine games left to play.
Consett drew 1-1 at Billingham earlier in the season, and the visitors again gave a good account of themselves, despite being second-bottom of the table, with Norton and centre-back Lexus Beeden particularly impressive.
Consett made three changes to the side which won at Guisborough three days earlier, with Nick Cassidy, Matthew Ridley and Carl Lawson coming into the starting XI for James Metcalfe, Ross Wilkinson and Colin Larkin. Matty Slocombe was available after completing his four-match suspension, but had to settle for a place on the bench.
Billingham had the strong wind behind them in the first half, but from the start it was Consett who created the best chances.
Dale Pearson sidefooted over from a superb first-time Holden cross on seven minutes, then was just beaten to the ball by the outstretched arm of Norton after a fine move involving Cassidy, Luke Carr and Jake Orrell on the half-hour.
A minute later Consett had the ball in the net, when Pearson’s shot was saved by Norton and centre-back Matthew Ridley pounced to convert the loose ball, but was ruled offside.
Both sides were trying to play football in the difficult conditions, but neither were scared of a tackle, and Consett’s Alex Francis picked up the first yellow card of the game for a robust challenge which left Billingham midfielder Famara Jatta needing lengthy treatment.
On 35 minutes skipper Danny Boyle had Billingham’s best chance of the game with a dipping, twisting shot from 30 yards out, but Kyle Hayes, who hadn’t had a lot to do, followed the flight of the ball all the way to tip it over the bar.
Consett should have gone ahead in the 36th minute when another superb cross from Holden, who was played into space by Lawson’s backheel, picked out Carr six yards out, but he headed the ball up and over the bar.
Half-time: Consett 0 Billingham Town 0
With the wind getting even stronger after the break, Billingham found it difficult to get out of their own half at times, and Consett began to lay siege to their visitors’ goal.
Carr’s low effort was saved by Norton at his near post on 52 minutes, and on 65 Pearson was sent clear by Slocombe (who’d come on for Francis) with only the keeper to beat, but put his shot the wrong side of the post.
In the 68th minute Pearson teed up Lawson, whose well-struck effort was cleared off the line by defender Andrew Wilson, and you began to wonder if it was going to be one of those nights.
But with the visitors finding it increasingly difficult to get out of their own half in the face of a strengthening wind, that superb Nick Cassidy strike broke the deadlock. Larkin and Pearson moved the ball out to Holden, he crossed to the back post, and the full-back provided a finish worthy of winning any game for his first goal since returning to the club.
Any hopes Billingham had of sneaking a late equaliser disappeared when Jude Harrison was sin-binned for dissent, and Consett saw out the game comfortably, without being able to get a second goal to seal the win.
- All match pictures by S Finch Imagery.
|22/02/2022||7:45 pm||Northern League Division One||2021-22|