Consett twice came from two goals down to draw 4-4 with Ashington as they brought their Northern League campaign to a close at a sunny Belle View Stadium.
Andy Coyles named an attacking line-up, featuring two changes from the side which was narrowly beaten by the visitors in the Division One Cup semi-final four days earlier, with Dale Pearson and Scott Heslop coming in for David Dowson and Luke Carr.
Consett started the game well, and Colin Larkin had the game’s first chance after just two minutes, heading narrowly wide from Jake Orrell’s free-kick.
Two minutes later Heslop curled an effort just wide from 25 yards, and in the fifth minute the No 9 was denied a goal by a superb reaction save from Adam McHugh from a close-range header.
Larkin thought he had a decent penalty claim on 11 minute, when centre-back Curtis Coppen sent him sprawling as they raced to meet Pearson’s cross from the left, but referee Helen Conley saw nothing in it.
After dominating the opening exchanges it was a shock for Consett when they suddenly found themselves two goals down after conceding twice in three minutes.
The first came on 14 minutes as former Steelman Dean Briggs took advantage of a defensive mix-up to open the scoring, and two minutes later their lead was doubled as Consett’s makeshift defence failed to clear their lines after Kyle Hayes saved from Jordan Summerly, and Lewis Suddick fired home.
On 18 minutes Scott Heslop reduced the arrears with his 7th goal in 16 games since signing from Dunston, bravely beating Ashington keeper Adam McHugh to Colin Larkin’s cross to head home, pictured below.
On 33 minutes Consett were level when Dale Pearson, who hadn’t scored since the FA Vase win at Newcastle Benfield in December, hit the 20-goal mark for the season, beating the visitors’ offside trap to smash the ball past the keeper, pictured below.
Consett suffered a blow four minutes before half-time when Heslop seemed to damage his ankle challenging for a high ball, and limped off, to be replaced by David Dowson.
A minute later Ashington almost regained the lead when Briggs broke through, but Hayes got the slightest of touches with his foot to divert the ball out for a corner.
In the second minute of added time at the end of the half Lewis Green almost gave Consett the lead for the first time in the game, but his well-struck 25-yarder rattled the crossbar, and Larkin was inches away from turning in the rebound.
But a minute later it was Ashington who regained the lead with a goal of the season contender. Dean Briggs picked up possession a few yards inside the Consett half from his goalkeeper’s kick, turned, spotted Kyle Hayes off his line and arrowed a shot past him from at least 40 yards.
Half-time: Consett 2 Ashington 3
Within eight minutes of the restart the visitors had restored their two-goal lead when a defence-splitting pass by Ben Sampson sent Liam Doyle to the byline and he pulled the ball back for Lewis Suddick to finish from close range.
Carl Lawson almost reduced the deficit to one within a couple of minutes when he was picked out by Calvin Smith’s pass, but was denied by a fingertip save from McHugh, who touched the ball over the crossbar.
With nothing but pride at stake, both sides kept playing open, attacking football, which was a treat for the bumper 523 crowd, and Orrell and sub Nick Cassidy had chances for Consett, while the ever-dangerous Briggs forced a save from Hayes and slid another effort just wide.
On 69 minutes Consett hit the woodwork for the second time when Jake Orrell’s free-kick came back off the post, and Green was denied by McHugh from the follow-up.
But on 70 minutes another setpiece saw Orrell whip a corner in for Calvin Smith to glance in a header for his sixth goal of the season and make it 3-4.
On 73 minutes Lawson met a deep cross from Cassidy, and saw his effort cleared off the line, and 10 minutes later another Cassidy cross by headed just wide by Larkin as Consett piled on the pressure.
The fully-deserved equaliser came in the 84th minute, when Jake Orrell smashed a free-kick from 25 yards into the top corner to make it 4-4 with his 11th goal of the season.
Both sides had chances to win the game, with Smith heading wide and sub Dan Marriott heading over for Consett, and Hayes denying Ashington sub Jordan Lashley and Sampson before Doyle rifled just wide.
But a draw was probably about right after a feast of attacking football which was a wonderful advert for the Northern League.
Consett will take plenty of positives into their play-off for a place in the Northern Premier League on 30 April. Now they must hope they can get some of their injured defenders fit for the one-off showdown against opponents who are, for the moment, unknown.
The final score meant the two sides have served up 21 goals over three games this season – a 3-3 draw at Woodhorn Lane followed by the 4-3 cup semi-final and then this 4-4 draw. It’s little wonder they are two of the three top-scoring teams in the division, even if they would both love champions North Shields’ defensive record.
|16/04/2022||3:00 pm||Northern League Division One||2021-22|