New striker Scott Heslop got his Consett career off to a dream start today, scoring a debut double to give them a 3-2 win at Seaham Red Star.
Heslop, 27, who was signed from Northern Premier League side Dunston on 29 December, had to settle for a place on the bench for his new club’s first game of 2022.
But he came on and immediately made his mark to inspire the league leaders to a vital win in a game where they twice had to come from behind.
The festive break’s other new signing, the returning Nick Cassidy, went straight into the starting XI, but the opening 45 minutes was nothing to write home about for either side.
The closest we came to a goal was midway through the half, when Liam Heywood’s pass put Adam Lennox through, but Kyle Hayes stood up well to save his dinked effort.
Consett created very little, but thought they should have had a penalty on 35 minutes, when Colin Larkin was flattened from behind by Jordan Patterson, but the referee decided it was inches outside the box rather than inside.
The game burst into life five minutes into the second half when Seaham striker Jamie Clark, on loan from Blyth Spartans, curled a tremendous effort into the top corner to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted only a minute, as Consett equalised through the unlikely figure of Matty Slocombe, who buried a shot in the bottom corner from 25 yards for 1-1.
It was the popular midfielder’s first goal of the season, and his first in nearly two years, the last being in a 4-1 win over Ashington on 25 January 2020.
Five minutes later Consett had another big penalty shout when Dale Pearson powered into the box and went down under challenge from Max Nelson, but the referee decided the centre-back got the ball and gave a corner.
Slocombe thought he had a second goal on 65 minutes when his header from a setpiece struck the bar, bounced down and was cleared off the line by Joe Hailes. The Consett midfielder was adamant his effort had crossed the line, but the referee ruled otherwise.
A minute later Seaham had an excellent chance when Clark was sent clear, but Hayes stood up well to save with his feet.
There was nothing the Consett keeper could do to prevent Seaham retaking the lead on 77 minutes, however, as Adam Lennox went past three defenders before finishing past Hayes to make it 2-1.
Two minutes later Consett were denied an equaliser when Pearson was ruled offside as he bundled Cassidy’s cross into the net with the help of a defender.
But on 80 minutes Consett got a goal that did count, when Scott Heslop, who’d come on for Carl Lawson, glanced a superb header into the bottom corner from Cassidy’s right-wing cross.
The game was anyone’s now, and Consett were grateful to James Martin for a 90th-minute goal-line clearance which kept the score at 2-2.
Seaham keeper Andrew Jennison saved well from Slocombe as Consett went in search of a winner, and Larkin slipped as he tried to convert the rebound
Just when it seemed like the game was heading for a draw, Scott Heslop stuck out a leg at fellow sub Lewis Green’s cross from the right to give Consett a 94th-minute winner.
The victory means they went eight points clear of second-placed Thornaby at the top of the table, though many of the chasing pack saw their games called off.
- Full match report, stats and more pictures to follow.