Leaders Consett suffered an unexpected setback in their quest for the Northern League title as they were beaten 2-1 at home by newly-promoted Redcar Athletic.
With the pitch at Green Lane waterlogged, the first-ever meeting between the clubs – billed as the ‘Steelmen’s derby’ – was switched to Belle View at less than 24 hours’ notice.
But there were no home comforts for Consett, who went behind early on, equalised just before half-time, only to concede again late on.
Manager Andy Coyles made seven changes to the side which had won at North Shields in the cup in midweek, but it was mid-table Redcar who took the initiative by scoring in the ninth minute.
They were awarded a free-kick on the left for a foul by Matty Slocombe on Jordan Rivis. It was whipped in by Lee Farrington, and after Consett keeper Kyle Hayes fumbled Kamal Ait El Haj‘s header, the same player followed up to score from close range. It was his first goal for the club on his first start, after three sub appearances.
Slocombe had a header saved by Matthew Bateman, who is on loan from Shildon, and the Redcar keeper reacted well to beat the loose ball away from the following-in Luke Carr.
James Martin and Jake Orrell both curled chances wide and Dale Pearson and Alex Francis were off target with headers as Consett responded well to going behind.
Just when it seemed like the visitors would get to the break with their lead intact, Consett equalised two minutes into added time. Carr’s pass sent Colin Larkin in on goal, and the Irishman made no mistake to plunder his 12th goal of the season, pictured below.
Half-time: Consett 1 Redcar Athletic 1
The second half saw Scott Heslop on for the clearly struggling Pearson, who had suffered a recurrence of his recent hamstring injury, but the change gave Consett even more momentum, rather than disrupting it.
Alex Francis forced Redcar keeper Matthew Bateman into a good save within a minute of the restart, and on 55 minutes Larkin had a great chance after Orrell found him at the back post, and although he controlled it superbly and beat his man, he dragged his shot wide.
Consett were enjoying plenty of possession, but creating few clear-cut chances against a very well-organised Redcar side, who almost regained their lead in the 61st minute, but for a superb tackle by Dan Capewell on the visitors’ top scorer Isaac Walker.
Both sides rang the changes, with the game losing some of its fluency as a result, but it was Redcar who dug out a winner in the 84th minute when Nicky Martin’s cross found Isaac Walker, who grabbed his 19th goal of the season.
Redcar’s celebrations were tinged with concern as striker McKenzie Dicocco, on loan from Marske United, had to be carried off the field after a late tackle by Capewell in the build-up. The challenge earned the Consett centre-back a yellow card, and sadly it was confirmed after the game that Dicocco had broken his leg.
Consett threw the kitchen sink at their visitors in the closing stages, but couldn’t find a way through, even with the help of six minutes of added time due to a couple of lengthy injury stoppages.
When the final whistle went the home side had suffered their first home league defeat in five months, but just how damaging it is to their title aspirations remains to be seen.
MATCH REPORT & PICTURES: GARY WELFORD
|Northern League Division One