Consett suffered late heartbreak at Wembley in the delayed 2020 FA Vase final, conceding an 84th-minute goal to lose 3-2 to Northern League rivals Hebburn Town.
Terry Mitchell named an attacking line-up, with wide men Ali Alshabeeb and Matty Cornish both starting, though playmaker Luke Carr, who was less than 100% fit, had to be content with a place on the bench.
The Steelmen took the game to their opponents from the start, enjoying lots of possession without being able to break down their well-organised opponents.
But the game exploded into life in the 17th minute when Consett keeper Kyle Hayes had to be alert to save from Robbie Spence, before Michael Richardson hit the bar with a curling effort from just inside the box.
A minute later Consett were in front. Ali Alshabeeb latched onto Matty Cornish’s pass to go round keeper Mark Foden and fire home from an acute angle, despite the presence of two covering defenders.
However, the euphoria lasted less than a minute, as Hebburn went straight up the other end to equalise through Amar Purewal, after the Consett defence was bisected by a through ball by Michael McKeown. Purewal kept his cool to finish past Hayes at his near post, despite a last-ditch lunge from his twin brother, Consett skipper Arjun.
Consett suffered a big setback midway through the half when Jake Orrell was knocked out in an aerial challenge. He was stretchered off and taken to hospital for precautionary checks. His replacement was Nick Allen, which meant a reshuffle, with Calvin Smith pushed forward into midfield.
The long-serving midfielder, who was Consett’s hero in the 6th Round and semi-final, had a good chance in the 38th minute from outside the box, but his well-struck effort cleared the bar by a foot.
Consett continued to press, and in the 42nd minute regained the lead when good work down the right by Jermaine Metz set up Dale Pearson, who took a touch to beat his man before firing left-footed into the corner to make it 2-1 with his 17th goal of the season.
Again the Steelmen were unable to hang onto the lead, however, and two minutes later the scores were level again. Hayes made a good save from Louis Storey, but Michael Richardson reacted quickest when the loose ball was recycled by Darren Lough, beating three Consett defenders to it to stroke home an equaliser for 2-2.
Half-time: Consett 2 Hebburn Town 2
The second half couldn’t possibly live up to the frantic pace of the first, but Graeme Armstrong had a good chance to put Hebburn ahead in the 56th minute, only to scuff his shot wide from inside the six-yard box.
Carr entered the fray just after the hour, and his introduction immediately saw Consett up their attacking game once more. The 65th minute saw Pearson set up Smith, but the No 8’s goalbound effort was superbly blocked by a defender.
After a good spell by Hebburn, and with both sides visibly tiring on the big Wembley pitch, Consett had two glorious chances to score what would have surely been the matchwinner.
First, in the 80th minute, Carr teed up Smith, but his shot was rising all the way as it cleared the crossbar. Two minutes later Alshabeeb set up Carr, but he fired his effort wide.
The goal which broke Consett hearts came in the 84th minute, when Richardson set up Olly Martin, who’d only come on as a sub a few minutes earlier, to finish from close range at the far post.
The Steelmen went for broke, pushing centre-back Ross Wilkinson up front as they laid siege to the Hebburn goal in search of a goal to take the game into extra time. He climbed highest at one corner, but his header didn’t trouble Foden.
When the final whistle blew, both sets of players sank to their knees, having given everything in a pulsating final. Consett had more than played their part, but although they did the town proud, it was promotion-bound Hebburn who became the eighth different Northern League club to lift the FA Vase.
|03/05/2021||1:00 pm||FA Vase||2020-21|