Consett’s interest in this year’s Durham Challenge Cup came to an end at the quarter-final stage as they were beaten 4-2 in a penalty shootout at Seaham Red Star, after a 1-1 draw.
The Steelmen went into the game with a much-changed forward line, Michael Mackay, Thomas McAloon and Max Russell starting in place of Dale Pearson, Luke Carr and Ali Alshabeeb, who were all nursing knocks. Recent signing Dean Briggs and youngster Antonio Agostinho were among the substitutes.
Consett took to the field on an extremely mild January evening in their rarely-seen blue ‘third’ strip and on a 19-game unbeaten run, but it was the home side who started on the front foot, sending a series of dangerous balls into the visitors’ penalty area, and on three minutes, burly striker Dan Wilson went close with a low shot which was deflected narrowly wide.
Slowly but surely the visitors started to gain a foothold in the game, and in the 12th minute Calvin Smith tested Chris Bannon with a well-struck 25-yard free-kick, with the Seaham keeper managing to tip the effort over the bar.
On 20 minutes McAloon had a good chance as he expertly cut in from the right and ghosted past a defender, only to see his well-struck 20-yard effort go just past the left-hand post.
Nine minutes later, it was McAloon again created a chance for himself as he received the ball 30 yards out with his back to goal and after a lovely turn that was too much for two Seaham defenders he again advanced, but this time fired his effort narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
This was Consett’s best spell of the game, with Jake Orrell pulling the strings in the centre of the park, and on 34 minutes he sprayed a fantastic crossfield ball to the advancing Darren Holden, who hit a good first-time effort from the angle of the penalty box which flew just wide. In truth he had more time and space than he realised and could have taken the ball closer to goal before shooting.
The Steelmen’s final chance of the half came on 37 minutes as the lively McAloon lofted a pass to Holden, who was again in space down the left. His ball across the penalty area found Smith 10 yards out, but the midfielder couldn’t continue the finishing that has brought him 15 goals already this season and blazed the effort over the bar.
The home side then started to dominate and tested Kyle Hayes for the first time on 39 minutes as Paul Gardiner hit a snap shot from 12 yards, which the keeper beat out at his near post. But there was nothing Hayes could do in the 41st minute as a slick piece of passing between midfielders Waite and Gardiner found Dan Wilson at the far post for a simple tap-in, with the Consett defence looking in vain for an offside flag.
Half-time: Seaham Red Star 1 Consett 0
The second period started in a more attritional fashion, with little of the good football of the first half on show, and unfortunately for Consett the first major incident was a straight red card for Matty Slocombe on 58 minutes.
The combative midfielder contested a full-blooded 50/50 ball with Seaham substitute Taylor Richardson, but mistimed his slide and ended up catching his opponent with his studs at knee height. Despite Slocombe immediately raising his hands by way of apology, referee Jamie Cann had no choice but to dismiss him.
The next 30 minutes had little to recommend it, with the contest becoming increasingly scrappy, with the 10 men of Consett struggling to make any headway and Seaham quite happy to hold onto their lead. The Steelmen brought on Dan Hawkins against the club where he recently spent a month on loan, as well as giving debuts to Briggs and Agostinho, and also made a tactical change, going to a back three and pushing Jermaine Metz further forward, but try as they might the Seaham defence remained largely untested.
That all changed in the 88th minute as Holden swung in a free-kick from the right and centre-back Ross Wilkinson rose highest to nod home from six yards.
Incredibly, Consett had an excellent chance to win the tie deep into injury time as Wilkinson again met a deep cross and his knock down found Agostinho, but the teenager’s close-range effort was somehow cleared off the line by Gardiner.
Full time came with the score at 1-1, and with extra time no longer used in Durham Challenge Cup games, the sides proceeded straight to penalties.
Seaham went first, and both sides scored their opening penalties through Michael Chilton and Hawkins respectively. It was advantage to the home side after the second round of kicks with Wilson netting and Bannon diving low to his right to deny Smith. That advantage was extended as Paul Weldon slotted home and Bannon again saved, this time low to his left to deny Holden. Hope was restored as Hayes saved Seaham’s fourth effort from David Robinson and Metz calmly netted for the Steelemen. That meant Seaham needed to score their final penalty to guarantee victory, and Joe Hailes stepped up and and smashed the ball home, giving Hayes no chance and making the final shootout score 4-2.
As the home players celebrated their place in the last four, Consett and their healthy travelling support were disappointed but not too downcast given the exciting remainder of the season ahead with the league, FA Vase and League Cup all still to play for.
MATCH REPORT: ANDY BALL, PICTURES: JOHN PAUL HARDY
|21/01/2020||7:30 pm||Durham Challenge Cup||2019-20|