Dale Pearson grabbed the headlines as Consett beat Maltby Main 5-0 in a behind-closed-doors FA Vase 2nd Round game at Belle View Stadium.
He scored the first four goals in his best game for the club, and Jermaine Metz added a superb fifth right at the death to ease the Steelmen past their Northern Counties East League opponents.
Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions meant the game had to be played behind closed doors, with only club officials, matchday helpers and press allowed in, but some resourceful members of the Conny Army beat the ban by using stepladders to see over the perimeter fence, while others watched the game from the top of a storage container outside the ground.
From their unorthodox vantage points they will have seen that in the first half especially the South Yorkshire side were well organised, defended well, and carried a goal threat too. Indeed, home keeper Kyle Hayes had to make the first save of the game, diving to his left to palm away Mitch Dunne’s top corner-bound effort on 13 minutes.
There was plenty of effort on show, with both sides moving the ball well after their enforced month-long lay-off, but a little rustiness was evident, as final passes often lacked the required weight, and chances were few and far between.
Maltby keeper James Pollard had to be on his toes to tip over a Luke Carr 20-yarder on 15 minutes, while Dale Pearson fired wide five minutes later from a corner.
Consett slowly got on top, however, and in the 33rd minute opened the scoring with a smashing goal. Matty Cornish played a ball into the left-hand channel, and Dale Pearson drilled a powerful shot from just inside the box which found a gap between the keeper and his near post, the ball going in off the upright.
It remained 1-0 at half-time, but after the break Consett looked quicker and sharper all over the pitch. Pearson almost doubled his tally within a couple of minutes of the restart, only to be denied by Pollard, while Calvin Smith’s header from a left-wing corner crashed back off the bar, with the keeper beaten all ends up.
Main defender Bradley Morton then made a crucial intervention just as Carr was teeing up a shot, and Pollard saved with his legs from Jermaine Metz, who was posing lots of problems down the right flank.
Then, as the game approached the hour mark, the game swung on two chances at either end of the pitch which saw Maltby twice denied an equaliser, only for Consett to take complete control.
On 58 minutes the home side were indebted to Hayes for his second fine save of the afternoon, diving to his left to palm away a good curling shot from Connor Cutts.
From the resulting corner he was called upon again, this time beating out Bradley Beatson’s back-post header. Consett broke quickly, Darren Holden fed the ball to Jake Orrell, whose delightful pass took the centre-back out of the game, leaving Pearson to chip the advancing keeper. In a matter of seconds, from potentially being back on level terms Consett were 2-0 ahead.
A minute later they were in complete control when another swift move saw Metz beat the keeper to Jake Orrell’s pass at the edge of the box. He dinked it over him and Pearson timed his run perfectly to beat two defenders to the ball to finish from close range for 3-0.
On 64 minutes the Steelmen had the ball in the net again when finished from six yards after more good work by Metz, but the marauding wing-back was ruled offside and the ‘goal’ was chalked off.
After that Consett never gave Maltby a sniff of a consolation goal, and it was them who added to the scoreline in the 86th minute. Skipper Arjun Purewal’s ball down the right saw Pearson turn his man and bear down on goal before slipping the ball past the keeper at his near post.
Pearson also had a hand in probably the best goal of the game, a minute into added time, supplying the pass which Metz smashed home with his left foot from 25 yards with literally the last kick of the game.
The final scoreline of 5-0 was perhaps a little harsh on the visitors, who were very much in the game for an hour, but they were unlucky to find Consett at their most clinical when it mattered.
Monday’s draw will see Consett hoping to avoid fellow Northern League clubs Stockton and West Auckland, who also progressed, along with the winners of the Hebburn v North Shields tie, which was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Two more Northern League clubs, Ryhope CW and Jarrow FC, will also be in the hat after their home ties also fell victim to the weather. They will play them on December 12. The league’s only casualties were Guisborough, beaten at home by Liversedge.