Consett got back to winning ways with a hard fought 2-0 win against a resilient Sunderland RCA side in front of 477 supporters at Belle View, and in doing so extended their lead at the top of the Northern League 1st Division to six points.
Second-half goals from skipper Arjun Purewal and striker Stephen Callen were enough to give the Steelmen victory after a strange first half that was almost completely without incident.
Manager Terry Mitchell made two changes from the defeat at West Auckland, with Colin Larkin coming in for the suspended Dale Pearson, while Jermaine Metz returned from injury to replace James Metcalfe, which alllowed Nick Allen to move inside to centre half.
The line-ups had an element of ‘old boys’ about them, as Consett’s strike force of Callen and Larkin both played for RCA last season and the visitors included Simon Jakab and Dan Hawkins in their side.
The game got off to a scrappy start and while there was certainly no lack of effort and industry, the teams largely cancelled each other out and neither side could keep possession for any length of time.
The first real effort of the game didn’t come until the 25th minute and it was former RCA frontman Larkin who hit an effort from 25 yards over the bar after good work from Luke Carr and Callen.
With the visitors sitting deep and doing an excellent job of closing down any space for the likes of Carr and Jake Orrell to play in, the most likely route to goal for Consett seemed to be the marauding runs of Metz, and the full-back almost created an opening on 37 minutes as he beat three players and cut an enticing ball back from the byline that somehow eluded everybody.
Frankly, that was it for the first half, and the sides went in at half-time locked at 0-0 and with neither goalkeeper having played any part in the game.
Half-time: Consett 0 Sunderland RCA 0
Consett started the second half in much brighter fashion and within the first 10 minutes of the half Carr and Oliver Scott had both brought saves from visiting keeper Keaton Marrs from distance. Admittedly they were comfortable saves, but the signs for an improved second-half display were there.
The home side continued to dominate the ball, but were still largely struggling to get strikers Larkin and Callen into the game against their former side. However, their efforts were rewarded in the 64th minute as an inswinging corner from Orrell was headed home from five yards by skipper Arjun Purewal, pictured top.
The goal forced the visitors to push forward and they were almost rewarded in the 75th minute as Mark Davison turned his marker on the edge of the area and hit a low shot inches wide of the post, with Hayes well beaten.
In truth this was a contest that from a fairly early stage looked as though it would be won by a single goal, however all doubt was removed on 80 minutes with a goal that had a touch of both fortune and comedy about it.
Visiting keeper Marrs had the ball at his feet and was under no pressure, but his attempted punt up the field hit the retreating Stephen Callen firmly on his backside 10 yards out and rebounded into the goal, past the helpless keeper. They say strikers have a habit of scoring against their former sides, but there can’t have been too many scored like this!
The final 10 minutes passed without incident, to bring a welcome victory for Consett and although it was far from their best performance these are the type of games that potential champions must win – hard fought against a strong opponent and with a clean sheet.
MATCH REPORT: ANDY BALL
PICTURES: ANDREW THOMPSON
|Northern League Division One