Consett twice came from two goals down to draw 4-4 with Ashington as they brought their Northern League campaign to a close today at a sunny Belle View Stadium.
Andy Coyles named an attacking line-up, which started the game well, but found his side trailing 2-0 after the visitors – Division One’s top scorers – struck twice in three minutes.
The first came on 14 minutes as Dean Briggs took advantage of a defensive mix-up to open the scoring, and two minutes later their lead was doubled as Consett’s makeshift defence failed to clear their lines and Lewis Suddick fired home.
On 18 minutes Scott Heslop reduced the arrears with his 7th goal in 16 games since signing from Dunston, bravely beating Ashington keeper Adam McHugh to Colin Larkin’s cross to head home.
On 33 minutes Dale Pearson hit the 20 mark for the season, beating the visitors’ offside trap to smash the ball past the keeper.
Consett almost got their noses in front in first-half injury time when a superb 25-yarder from Lewis Green rattled the crossbar, and Larkin was inches away from turning in the rebound.
But in the third minute of added time it was Ashington who regained the lead when Dean Briggs spotted Kyle Hayes off his line and arrowed a shot past him from 40 yards.
Ashington went into the break 3-2 up, and within eight minutes of the restart had restored their two-goal lead when an excellent pass sent Liam Doyle to the byline and he pulled the ball back for Lewis Suddick to finish from close range.
On 69 minutes Consett hit the woodwork for the second time when Jake Orrell’s free-kick came back off the post, and Green was denied by McHugh from the follow-up.
But on 70 minutes another setpiece saw Orrell whip a corner in for Calvin Smith to glance in a header and make it 3-4.
On 73 minutes Carl Lawson met a deep cross from Nick Cassidy, and saw his effort cleared off the line, and 10 minutes later another Cassidy cross by headed just wide by Larkin as Consett piled on the pressure.
The fully-deserved equaliser came in the 84th minute, when Jake Orrell smashed a free-kick from 25 yards into the top corner to make it 4-4 with his 11th goal of the season.
Both sides had chances to win the game, but a draw was probably about right for a game which was a wonderful advert for the Northern League.
Consett will take plenty of positives into their play-off for a place in the Northern Premier League on Saturday 30 April. Now they must hope they can get some of their injured defenders fit for the one-off showdown against opponents who are, for the moment, unknown.
- Full match report, stats and more pictures to follow.