Consett recorded their first pre-season win with a resounding 8-0 victory against Northern League Division 2 side Birtley Town at a very sunny Belle View.
In a contest that was one-sided from the first whistle Consett were three up at the break following goals from Adam Mitchell, Calvin Smith and Cyril Giraud.
In a second half that featured almost a whole new team, the rout was completed with two goals from Danny Craggs, one from James Metcalfe and a brace from a trialist striker.
With manager Andy Coyles away on holiday, new assistant manager Richie Hill was in charge of the side, and there were a number of changes to the starting line-up from the first friendly at Berwick Rangers.
Darren Holden and Calvin Smith, both unavailable the previous week, started while there were also starts for new boys Declan Bisset and Adam Mitchell. Following his confirmed signing during the week, Mark McLeod was named on the teamsheet, partnered at the heart of the defence by a new trialist.
Birtley came into the game with only one of their former Consett players in the shape of Harry Pilkington, as Alex Francis was injured, but there was the familiar face of Paul Bryson on their touchline.
The Steelmen were on the attack from the very first whistle and only had to wait until the third minute to take the lead as Adam Mitchell opened his account for the club, collecting a deft pass from Declan Bisset and shooting past Sam Wilson from the edge of the area.
The visiting keeper was in action again 10 minutes later as he denied Darren Holden, who hit a good effort from the edge of the area following good work from Giraud. However, there was nothing he could do on 15 minutes as Calvin Smith curled a beautiful 20-yard free-kick past him into the top corner to make it 2-0.
A third goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrived in the 24th minute as Cyril Giraud picked the ball up just outside the penalty area and drove past a defender before finishing low past Wilson into the bottom corner.
The home side were attacking at will, and Holden especially was enjoying a lot of success down the left. He went close for the second time on 27 minutes, curling an effort from 20 yards narrowly wide of the post.
There was a golden chance for a fourth goal two minutes before the break when skipper Matty Slocombe played Giraud clean through on goal, however the French forward shot wide with only the keeper to beat.
The half came with Consett deservedly three goals up and the only negative being an injury to full-back Callum Elliott, who had to be replaced just before half-time by another trialist, although it looked to be a precaution rather than a serious injury.
Half-time: Consett 3 Birtley Town 0
With far more players available than the previous week, Richie Hill had the luxury of fielding almost a different XI in the second half. Indeed only Slocombe and Giraud remained, with Ross Coombe, Kieren Aplin, Dan Capewell, James Metcalfe, Jake Orrell and Danny Craggs joining the fray, along with two further trialists – one a midfielder and one a striker.
Although the team was much changed, the pattern of play didn’t and Consett only had to wait seven minutes to add their fourth. It was Danny Craggs who finished neatly on the half volley following a teasing cross from the right by the trialist who had come on in the first half.
Two minutes later it was five as Kieren Aplin went on a powerful run down the left, cut inside the last defender and sent a low shot that Sam Wilson did well to parry, however, our trialist striker had followed up well and was on hand to tap into an empty net.
Consett were playing some lovely stuff at this point and their play was further rewarded on 63 minutes with probably the best move of the game, as some lovely one-touch passing involving Giraud and Orrell resulted in Danny Craggs tapping home unmarked from close range, for his second and the team’s sixth.
Number seven came only a minute later and it was from a set play, as Aplin whipped in an inswinging corner that was met six yards out by a bullet header from James Metcalfe – the young centre-back’s second goal of pre-season.
Some sides may have taken their foot off the pedal at this point, however, with competition for places this season clearly going to be strong and a number of trialists hoping to impress, the home side kept the pressure on.
It was Consett’s trialist striker who scored the final goal of the game on 78 minutes as he met Aplin’s superb left-wing cross firmly on the volley, giving Wilson no chance. It was his second of the game and Aplin’s third assist since being introduced at half-time.
Despite continuing to press forward there was no more goalmouth action, and the final whistle came with the score 8-0 and neither Consett keeper tested in the slightest throughout the 90 minutes, although this will surely change with tougher tests to come, starting next Saturday at home to Northern Premier League outfit Workington.
MATCH REPORT: ANDY BALL
PICTURES: KENNY TAYLOR & STEPHEN FINCH
CONSETT (first half): 1. Mark Foden, 2. Callum Elliott, 3. Darren Holden, 4. Calvin Smith, 5. A Trialist, 6. Mark McLeod, 7. Lewis Green, 8. Matthew Slocombe (captain), 9. Cyril Giraud, 10. Declan Bisset, 11. Adam Mitchell.
Subs: 36′ A Trialist for Elliott
CONSETT (second half): 1. Ross Coombe, 5. James Metcalfe, 7. A Trialist, 8. Matthew Slocombe, 9. Cyril Giraud, 12. A Trialist, 14. Dan Capewell, 16. Kieren Aplin, 15. A Trialist, 17. Jake Orrell, 19. Danny Craggs.
Subs: 66′ Mitchell for Giraud, 70′ McLeod for Slocombe, 75′ Da Costa for McLeod.
BIRTLEY TOWN: 1. Sam Wilson, 2. Harry Pilkington, 3. Mark Patterson, 4. Ryan Kiltey, 5. Callum Turnbull,
6. Owen Lancaster, 7. Jack Honour (sub Liam Butler 46), 8. Cameron Hood (sub Alex Moreland 68), 9. Aiden Routledge, 10. Thomas Scouthern, 11. Brandon Turnbull. Subs: 12. Liam Butler