Steven Aiston is held off the ball
CONSETT lived to fight another day after starting their season with a tricky trip to North Counties East League side Tadcaster Albion. Their hosts finished fourth last season, and already have a couple of league games under their belt, and it showed, as Consett started slowly in their first competitive game of the campaign. Manager Kenny Lindoe gave full debuts to three players - left-back Ian Davidson, midfielder Calvin Smith and forward Steven Aiston, and there was a second debut for returning midfielder Andrew Cuthbertson.
The home side started brightly, and there was a scare for Consett as early as the second minute when 'keeper Peter Jameson's goal-kick when straight to Brewers centre-forward Danny Gray. He beat his man and unleashed a powerful shot which hit the bar, bounced down and was hacked to safety. Consett struggled to find any rhythm, and fell behind in the 13th minute. Cuthbertson was penalised for a push a few yards outside the box, and Tadcaster left-back Steve Jeff stepped up to smash home an unstoppable free-kick into the top-right corner.
Steve Jeff's free kick puts Tadcaster ahead
Consett's response was immediate, and within a minute they were level. Michael Mackay latched on to a long ball forward by Ryan Bell, outpaced his marker, and lobbed goalkeeper Scott Pallister from 15 yards as he came out to narrow the angle. The goal gave the Steelmen a lift, and for the next quarter of an hour they enjoyed probably their best spell of the game. On 20 minutes, Anthony Lund laid the ball off to Aiston, whose shot was deflected for a corner. On the half-hour, Davidson wasn't too far away with a rasping drive from 25 yards, and Craig Robson tried his luck from a similar distance, but his effort was straight at the keeper. Lund, spotting the keeper off his line, tried a speculative effort, but it was off-target.
Some resolute defending by the big Tadcaster centre-backs was keeping Consett at bay, and their powerful front two also looked a handful when they went forward. Their playmaker, the diminutive Stuart Rice, was pulling the strings in midfield, and it was his pass which played in midfielder Nick Thompson, who dragged his shot wide.
As half-time approached, Consett skipper Carl Piecha was involved in chances at either end. First, he came in late at the back post to meet Lund's cross, but headed straight at the keeper, then he found himself being outmuscled by the burly Robert Pell, who played in strike partner Gray, only for Jameson to stand up well and ensure that the scoreline remained levl at half-time.
Carl Piecha goes full stretch
Consett made a change at half-time, with Lewis Teasdale coming on for Aiston, but it was Tadcaster who showed first, and they probably should have taken the lead just three minutes in when Thompson's cross just evaded Gray with the goal at his mercy.
Mackay blazed a shot well over from the edge of the box, Cuthbertson scuffed one effort straight at the keeper at the end of a close-passing move, and then made him work a bit harder with another.
But there were chances at the other end too in a real nip-and-tuck game. Big Albion centre-half Matthew Sparkes was a real threat from set-pieces, and he twice outjumped everyone, only to send his headers a yard or two over the bar. Consett were twice grateful to Jameson, first for saving Pell's shot with his feet after the defence conceded possession, and then for a fine diving save from a Gray kick.
Consett had chances of their own to settle the tie, not least when Davidson crossed to the back post for Bell, but the defender's header flashed just over the bar. They had also brought on Stephen Callen for the tiring Lund, and he had a chance to make it a debut to remember when Michael Pearson - probably the Steelmen's man of the match - picked him out with a great cross from the right. His header was on target, but lacked power. When the final whistle went, supporters agreed a draw was probably a fair result, with neither team doing quite enough to deserve a win.