Consett can look forward to their first FA Vase 5th Round appearance in 12 years after beating Lutterworth Town 3-1 at a gale-lashed Belle View.
The winds which battered the town were so strong – gusts of 50-60mph at times – that the referee agreed to delay kick-off for an hour to let them subside a little. And once the game got underway, although the United Counties League side from Leicestershire had their moments, they couldn’t cope with the home side’s attackers once they got into their stride.
Lutterworth were missing two or three regulars, and were kicking into a fierce wind in the first half, but had the first two chances of the game. On five minutes Mark Warren put a free-kick in from the left which flashed harmlessly across the face of goal, when the merest of touches from anybody’s boot would surely have resulted in a goal.
Then a minute later Consett keeper Kyle Hayes had to be on the alert when Jordan Small let fly with a 20-yarder, which was parried away.
Consett, with the wind at their back, slowly grew into the game, and their first chance came on 13 minutes, when Luke Carr tried his luck from 25 yards, but was off target. Midway through the half Dale Pearson’s pass put Ali Alshabeeb clear, but he blazed his effort high and wide.
As the game reached the half-hour mark Consett began to lay siege to the Lutterworth goal. First, a Jake Orrell shot was deflected for a corner, then Carr hit the target, but his shot lacked power. Then carr turned provider for Pearson, who beat his man, but slammed his low shot inches wide of the right-hand post.
You sensed a goal was on the way, and it came in the 38th minute, courtesy of an excellent Luke Carr strike. He picked up possession 25 yards out and fired home an unstoppable shot for his 12th goal of the season.
The Steelmen sensed blood, and came close to adding to their tally before half-time. Orrell’s shot was blocked by a defender, and Calvin Smith put the rebound just wide, despite falling as he tried to get his shot away.
Orrell then saw a shot well saved by Lutterworth keeper Warren Butlin, and Smith ended the half by smashing a rising effort inches over the crossbar from 25 yards.
Half-time: Consett 1 Lutterworth Town 0
Lutterworth had the wind at their back in the second half, and Consett were grateful to Hayes in the 53rd minute when he made a fine reflex save from William Clarke to keep his side in front.
At the other end, Alshabeeb was inches away from getting on the end of a wicked Pearson cross, and Butlin then stood up well to save from Pearson at his near-post after a one-two with Carr.
Pearson looked in the mood to add to his 27 goals for the season, and saw a shot from a short corner blocked, before being denied again by the keeper after Alshabeeb set him up.
Consett doubled their lead in the 61st minute when a flowing move was finished by left-back Darren Holden, who played a one-two with Pearson and cut in from the flank before dinking the ball over the advancing keeper to make it 2-0.
Just as Lutterworth looked as though they were running out of energy and ideas, they got themselves back in the game in the 73rd minute. Hayes, kicking into the wind, cleared the ball straight to visiting skipper Marshall Keenan, who played in Small. He turned Ross Wilkinson, and the big centre-back couldn’t help but haul him down. The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Kade Lewis reduced the deficit.
But Consett went straight back on the attack, and Pearson was again denied by the keeper, and Carr’s follow-up blocked by some determined defending. As the game entered its closing stages Consett were pouring forward in search of a third goal, and Smith almost got it when his powerful drive was deflected just wide. From the resulting corner skipper Arjun Purewal’s header was cleared off the line.
Smith and Pearson both had efforts saved, but the clincher came in the 86th minute when Orrell’s pass sent Pearson clear, but instead of going for goal the Steelmen’s top scorer unselfishly squared the ball for Ali Alshabeeb to finish from six yards and make the final score 3-1.
The only negative note to the day was the yellow card for Ross Wilkinson which accompanied Lutterworth’s penalty. It was the big centre-back’s second booking in the competition this season, and means he will miss the 5th Round – the first time since 2008 and only the second time ever that Consett have reached this stage. They join fellow Northern League sides West Auckland Town and Hebburn Town in Monday’s last 16 draw, though league leaders and competition favourites Stockton Town were surprisingly eliminated.
MATCH REPORT & PICTURES: GARY WELFORD