STEVEN Aiston's first goal for Consett ended a run of four successive league defeats as they came from behind to claim a point against unbeaten Shildon at Belle Vue Park. Manager Kenny Lindoe rang the changes after Saturday's five-goal hammering at Darlington, with Chris Elliott coming in for his debut in goal, Scott Martindale returning in central defence for his first appearance since Sunderland RCA away on the opening day of the season, and Jack Stanger getting his first start of the campaign in midfield. Out went Peter Jameson, Harrison Davies and Lewis Teasdale.
Consett certainly started the game like a side with a point to prove, and carved their first chance after just four minutes. Stanger and Calvin Smith combined to set up top scorer Michael Mackay, who cut in from the left and worked himself space to shoot, but his effort, curled towards the top-right corner, was a comfortable enough save for Keith Finch in the Shildon goal. Three minutes later, the former Hartlepool striker had another opportunity, with Smith again the provider, but although he was through with only the keeper to beat, Finch stood up well to make the save.
Shildon have the division's best goal difference thanks to their 11-0 slaughter of South Shields the previous midweek, and they created their first chance 11 minutes in. The dangerous Sam Garvie cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot, which bounced up in front of debutant Elliott, and, diving to his left, he did well to push it away at the expense of a corner. The next chance also fell to the Railwaymen, and again Elliott was called into action, saving from a Robert Briggs effort from the edge of the box.
At the other end, skipper Craig Robson's inswinging corner from the right saw Finch make un uncharacteristic mistake, dropping the ball at his near post, but recovering to fall on it on the ground before any Consett player could react to poke it home from point-blank range.
Michael Pearson, back at right-back after a couple of games at centre-back, then picked out Mackay with a fine crossfield pass, and although he was unable to work space for a shot himself, the No 10 laid the ball off to Robson, whose chipped effort was a couple of yards too high. David Scorer then headed over from a Smith corner as Consett enjoyed their best spell of the game. Just as they seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the Steelmen found themselves a goal behind. Shildon midfielder Ross Gardner crossed from near the right corner flag, and Garvie, receiving the ball with his back to goal, controlled it, turned and shot towards the near post. Although well-struck, the effort seemed to go through Elliott, and he will probably feel he should have done better with it.
Ten minutes before the break Shildon should have doubled their lead when Billy Greulich-Smith, who scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season, was clean through with Garvie in a two-on-one when they sprung Consett's offside trap, but the latter rolled his shot past Elliott, but just the wrong side of the far post. Right on half-time the keeper got lucky when he raced out of his box to clear, and only succeeded in passing the ball straight to Greulich-Smith, who shot yards wide.
Half time: Consett 0-1 Shildon
Consett were finding the big centre-forward and the tricky Garvie quite a handful, and Scorer became the first player booked a minute into the second half for hauling the No 9 back by his shirt in the centre circle. A second goal so early in the second 45 minutes would probably have proved fatal, and Chris Hughes almost got it when he cut in from the left and shot just wide of the far post. Right-back Chris Hunter then tried a speculative effort from the right touchline which almost caught Elliott off guard, but he recovered to save on the line.
For the next 20 minutes the game was very poor, with neither side creating a chance, and when Consett grabbed an equaliser with nine minutes remaining, it was out of the blue. Aiston latched onto a misplaced pass in midfield, and surged forward down the left. After beating his man he sent across a dipping cross-shot, and wheeled away in delight as it deceived Finch and dipped into the far corner.
As the game entered its closing stages, both sides had chances to claim all three points. Mackay went on a mazy run which ended with his scuffing his shot wide of the right hand post, while Shildon's Briggs hit a 25-yard free-kick over the bar.
With four minutes left, Consett's best passing movement of the night saw them switch play from right to left, and Aiston's cross picked out sub Matty Slocombe, whose header under challenge was off target. Robson had the ball taken off his toe as he shaped to shoot after playing a neat one-two with Mackay, and Smith had a fierce strike which looked goalbound blocked by a defender.
In added time Shildon almost nicked it. Robson stuck out a foot at a Garvie cross, and was relieved to see the ball go out for a corner, rather than into his own net. Briggs headed the resulting flag-kick over, then, with literally the last kick of the game, Danny Richmond blazed a shot over. In truth, neither side had really done enough to warrant a win, and a point apiece was about the right result.
Full time: Consett 1-1 Shildon