Daniel Groves takes a tumble, but the ref books him for diving!
MICHAEL Mackay became the first visiting player to score at the Brewery Field this season, but it was no more than a consolation goal for Consett, as they paid the price for missed chances by returning home empty-handed. The Steelmen took the game to their hosts in the first half, and were unlucky not to be in front at half-time, but conceding early in the second half left them chasing the game, which proved beyond them against the three-times champions.
Manager Kenny Lindoe made just one change to the XI which had started the abandoned game against Guisborough four days earlier, Ian Davidson returning at left-back, with right-back Michael Pearson unwell. Ryan Bell took the No 2 shirt, while on the opposite flank Anthony Lund pushed into midfield. There was a scare for Consett just seconds into the game when midfielder Calvin Smith, returning to his old stomping ground, landed heavily while challenging for a header. He needed lengthy treatment before being able to continue, but was back on the field by the time his teammates carved out the first chance of eight minutes. Skipper Carl Piecha, who had returned to the side against Guisborough, brought the ball out from defence and sent a fine crossfield pass to Michael Mackay. The No 10 took his shot early from outside the box, forcing Spenny keeper David Knight to parry the ball away, but no one was following in for the rebound.
Mackay turned provider on 22 minutes when he latched onto a long ball out from the back by Bell, and, unable to work a shooting opportunity for himself, laid the ball off for Smith, whose thumping drive from 25 yards flew just a couple of yards over the bar. A minute later the lively Mackay was at the centre of things again, linking up well down the left with Lund before cutting inside to unleash a shot which dipped just over. The visitors were making most of the chances, and a Davidson free-kick to Mackay saw him set up Craig Robson for a shot, which, although well-struck, again missed the target. On 35 minutes it was Steven Aiston's turn, and although he beat a defender to Bell's pass, and got his shot on target, it lacked power, and was an easy save for Knight.
Consett's wall stands firm
As half-time approached, Spennymoor at last exerted some pressure of their own, and it became an unhappy return for Piecha when he was booked for contesting the award of a free-kick outside the box, when the home team had just escaped punishment for a similar offence at the other end.
The free-kick came to nothing, and the referee then levelled things up in terms of bookings when he yellow-carded home right-back Daniel Groves for taking a tumble in the box under challenge from Davidson. Some referees would have had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, and an earlier tug at the shirt of Wayne Phillips was perhaps also lucky to have gone unpunished.
The last action of the half saw Robson have another shot after a free-kick was only half-cleared, but his precise chip cleared the crossbar as well as the keeper and a defender on the line. When the half-time whistle went, the score remained 0-0, but no one in the ground could have complained if Consett had been a couple of goals up after an impressive 45 minutes.
Half time: Spenny 0-0 Consett
Things began to unravel just two minutes into the second half, however, when Spennymoor took the lead. Steven Richardson picked up a loose ball outside the penalty area and rifled home an unstoppable shot into the far corner. Moors had obviously had a stern talking-to during the interval, and Richardson should have done better four minutes when he put a free header straight at Consett keeper Chris Elliott.
Steven Aiston in action
Indecision between Elliott and David Scorer then let in Gavin Cogdon, so often a thorn in Consett's side, but he couldn't finish from an acute angle, shooting into the side netting. A corner by the same player then picked out centre-half Michael Laws, who saw his powerful header clawed away by Elliott's outstretched left hand. Elliott then saved well at the feet of Cogdon as Spennymoor turned the screw.
Things got worse for Consett on 61 minutes when Piecha left the field in obvious discomfort after collapsing to the turf after chasing Cogdon down the left wing. He has only just returned after six weeks out, and fans were left fearing a recurrence of his groin/hernia injury. Scott Martindale took his place at the heart of defence, but his first contribution was at the other end, surging forward to test Knight with a 20-yard shot.
Midway through the half Consett had a half-chance to draw level when Smith's left-wing corner wasn't cleared by the Spennymoor defence, and Mackay flicked out a foot at the loose ball, which went a yard over the bar.
A minute later Consett were made to rue the miss when Moors made it 2-0. Scorer's mistake let in substitute Mark Davison, who finished calmly past the exposed Elliott. The home side's tails were up now, and it took another save from man-of-the-match Elliott to deny Groves after excellent work by Craig Ruddy.
Ryan Bell heads clear
Consett were still making chances, and Mackay could have done more with an opportunity on 81 minutes from a Smith pass, but took it early, and shot tamely at the keeper. He had another chance three minutes later when he received the ball with his back to goal, turned, but shot well off-target.
With a minute to go, any hopes Consett had of finding a foothold back into the game were quashed when another Spennymoor substitute, Anthony Peacock, hit an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 25 yards with the outside of his right foot. The fact that he and Davison, along with contracted striker Michael Rae, could only manage places on the bench, says much about Spennymoor's strength in depth.
Two minutes into added time Mackay got the goal his performance deserved when he capitalised on a poor pass by Stephen Capper to beat Knight to the ball, getting clattered for his trouble. Despite the attentions of Laws the ball trickled over the line for the former Hartlepool striker's 10th goal of the season. It was scant reward for a tireless performance. Certainly, he had - and missed - chances, particularly in the first half, but for much of the second he was an isolated figure up front, given little support. It was no disgrace to lose to a side who, with 10 wins out of 10, still look like THE team to beat, but Consett will feel that with better finishing, the game could have been out of sight long before they scored. As it is, the result left the Steelmen a point and a place outside the relegation zone, with three of the next four league games against the teams below us. Even at this early stage in the season, to say they're 'must-wins' is an understatement.
Full time: Spenny 3-1 Consett