Craig Robson's corner sails straight in
HEBBURN got their revenge for Consett's late winner in the FA Vase tie between the sides a fortnight earlier by snatching the points with an 89th-minute goal in a game largely ruined by the wind. The visitors had led and been pegged back twice, but Paul Gardiner's close range finish left no time for Consett to pull a third equaliser out of the bag.
Manager Kenny Lindoe made two changes to the starting XI from the last completed game, Scott Martindale coming into the back four for Luke Richardson, and Steven Aiston replacing the injured Luke Sullivan up front.
The visitors made their intentions clear from the start, playing the giant Daniel Kirkup - usually an uncompromising centre-half - up front, and he had already had a header from a corner saved by Chris Elliott when he gave Hebburn the lead in the 10th minute. Criminally, he was given the freedom of the penalty area to power home a Jonny Davis free-kick into the top corner.
A Calvin Smith free-kick from all of 30 yards forced Hebburn keeper Dan Regan to save low to his right three minutes later, and when Consett equalised midway through the half, it was from another set-piece, and it had an element of good fortune about it. Craig Robson's wind-assisted corner sailed straight in at the back post, for his first goal of the season.
Chris Elliott punches clear
Matty Slocombe had the ball in the net again two minutes later after latching on to a fine crossfield ball by Jack Stanger, but the referee correctly ruled it out for handball, as the midfielder used his arm to knock it past the defender.
Half time: Consett 0-0 Hebburn
There was little else to write about in a drab first half, but Consett came out with their tails up for the second 45 minutes, and should have taken the lead just a minute in, when a Michael Mackay cross from the right found Aiston, whomiscued with the goal at his mercy.
Hebburn had the wind with them this half, which meant they could punt balls in the direction of Kirkup from even further inside their own half. If the Steelmen didn't know what he could do, they received a warning on 47 minutes, when he sent a header flashing just over from another Davis free-kick. They didn't take heed, however, and three minutes later found themselves trailing for the second time in the game.
Kirkup cashed in on a defensive blunder by David Scorer to head the Hornets back in front. Again the lead was short-lived, however, as Scorer made amends for his mistake on the hour by heading down Michael Pearson's cross for Aiston to level the scores again.
Daniel Kirkup heads the opener
The game to-ed and fro-ed as both sides sought a winner, with Consett's passing style a stark contrast to Hebburn's less-fussy approach, and it was the Tynesiders who had the next chance on 64 minutes when Tony Stephenson was given time and space to bring the ball down and sent a low effort whistling just past the post.
Sub James Luccock almost caught Elliott by surprise with an early shot as he cut in from the left, but the keeper managed to turn it round his near post for a corner. From the resulting kick, Kirkup headed the ball back into the danger zone, and this time centre-back Paul Wardle was allowed an unchallenged header, which he put just over the bar.
Consett's nine-goal top scorer Michael Mackay had been kept quiet by the big Hebburn back four, and his best chance to get on the scoresheet came from a setpiece. He bent a 25-yard free-kick round the wall, but it was an easy enough save for Regan. Left-back Ian Davidson was next to try his luck with a free-kick from a similar range, and the result was the same - a routine save for Regan.
David Scorer towers above the defence
The home side brought on Harrison Davies for Slocombe in an effort to unlock the stubborn Hebburn defence, and it almost worked when he was the architect of one of the moves of the game.He sprayed a wonderful pass out to Mackay on the right, who went past his man before delivering an inviting cross for Smith. The midfielder struck the ball sweetly, but it flew inches wide of the far post, the keeper beaten.
Scorer won the FA Vase game between the sides with a late goal two weeks earlier, but this time the tables were turned. Goalkeeper Regan's free-kick from inside his own half was helped on by Kirkup, who Consett struggled to deal with all afternoon, and Paul Gardiner stabbed the ball home from a couple of yards out.
There was no time for a third comeback, and Consett have only themselves to blame for losing to opponents who can be described, at best, as limited. Their gameplan - 'hit it to the big bloke up front and they won't like it' - worked a treat, and the Steelmen were left to rue giving away three more easily-avoidable goals.
Full time: Consett 1-0 Hebburn