A Craig Robson thunderbolt and a Gavin Ross double kept Consett on top of the Northern League 1st Division with a 3-2 victory over Bishop Auckland, in the first competitive game held at their excellent new Heritage Park ground, on this day in 2010.
After a couple of days of heavy rain, the game only took place after the efforts of a couple of dozen supporters and club officials, who worked to drain the newly-laid field of some wet patches.
Consett made just one change from the side which had come from two goals down to beat Jarrow Roofing 3-2 seven days earlier. Gareth Powell made his debut – and what turn out to be his only appearance for the club – in goal in place of the injured Barry Poskett.
The home side – who had pulled a bumper 1,400 crowd for the official opening of the ground in midweek, for a friendly against Middlesbrough played in monsoon conditions – included three former Consett players. Graham Irving, who swapped Belle Vue for Bishops the previous month, was at centre-half, while Dan Olusoga, who had a spell as a Steelman the previous season, made his debut up front after signing from Hebburn Town. Adam Emson, who was returning from injury, was named on the bench after a late fitness test.
Three other players who would go on to play for Consett were also in the Bishops line-up: goalkeeper Peter Jeffries, midfielder Chris Bell, and a young striker called Daniel Hawkins.
The game started slowly, with neither side making any serious threat to the scoreboard, although it was Consett who enjoyed more of the possession. However, they had to wait until the 32nd minute to register a serious attempt on goal, and it was from a familiar combination, with Danny Craggs sending a perfect cross onto the head of Gavin Barton, but Jeffries superbly denied the No 10 against his old club.
The game was starting to come to life at this point and on 36 minutes the home side almost broke the deadlock, but Powell saved well from Hawkins after he had been played through by an excellent pass from the lively Chris Bell.
Bishops were starting to look dangerous, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock on 40 minutes through an unlikely source. Midfielder Craig Robson hit a 25-yard rocket into the corner – his first goal since returning to the club, and only his fifth in more than 120 games – following good work from Gavin Ross.
The goal led to a sustained spell of pressure by Consett, and although they couldn’t add another before half-time, they were good value for their lead.
Half-time: Bishop Auckland 0 Consett 1
Bishops made a change at half-time, with Emson replacing Arran Wearmouth, and the change certainly had a positive effect, with the home team starting to cause problems down Consett’s right-hand side.
Despite this it was Consett who came closest to another goal on 59 minutes as a long clearance from Carl Piecha somehow found Ross clean through on goal, but the young striker shot straight at Jeffries.
A second goal at that point would surely have clinched the game, but the let-off proved costly as Bishops piled on the pressure, and on 62 minutes the inevitable happened when Darren Atkinson made a determined run down the left and his low pinpoint cross was deftly flicked into the bottom-right corner from no more than six yards by Hawkins.
The home team were now having their best spell of the game, and pinned Consett almost in their own 18-yard box. On 78 minutes the pressure told when Bishops went ahead, with Hawkins again finishing from close range following good work from Olusoga and Emson.
There seemed to be no way back for Consett, but the gamed turned completely out of the blue on 80 minutes when the Bishops defence and goalkeeper made an awful mess of a long ball forward and Gavin Ross was left to tap into an open goal to make it 2-2.
Consett would surely have settled for a hard-earned away point, but three minutes later Ross again finished from close range following a cross from the right wing to make it 3-2.
There was controversy surrounding the goal, however, with the home team all literally stopping and watching Ross score, believing the ball had gone out for a throw-in before it was swung over.
The protest continued for a good few minutes, with the Two Blues’ management team led by future Consett boss Colin Myers – sprinting the length of the pitch to have their say to the linesman concerned, but regardless of whether the ball was in or out, the whistle had not gone, and Consett rightly continued to play.
The Steelmen held out fairly comfortably in the last few minutes, gaining revenge for an early-season FA Cup replay defeat by the same scoreline by the Two Blues.
Full-time: Bishop Auckland 2 Consett 3
Bishop Auckland: 1 Peter Jeffries. 2 Chris Lawson, 3 Darren Atkinson, 4 Wayne Clarke, 5 Graham Irving, 6 Steven Turnbull (sub Simon Ord), 7 Chris Bell, 8 Stephen Salvin, 9 Dan Olusoga, 10 Dan Hawkins, 11 Aaron Wearmouth (sub Adam Emson). Subs not used. Ryan Graham, Kieron Day, Mark Henson
Consett: 1 Gareth Powell, 2 Kieran Megran (sub Ryan Bell), 3 Jamie Poole (sub Anthony Lund), 4 David Scorer, 5 Carl Piecha, 6 Danny Craggs, 7 Dale Burrell, 8 Craig Robson, 9 Gavin Barton (sub Scott Martindale), 10 Gavin Ross, 11 Mark Eccles. Subs not used: Barry Poskett, Michael Coulthard.