CONSETT lost their third league game in a row when they were beaten 2-0 at Darlington Road, with the win taking unbeaten West Auckland to the top of the table. Manager Kenny Lindoe made two changes to the side which had beaten Alnwick Town in the FA Vase three days earlier. Lewis Teasdale and Michael Mackay returned up front, in place of striker Gavin Ross and defender Ryan Bell, who joined the growing injury list. In fact, injuries and other commitments meant Kenny had nine players unavailable for the game at one of the league's toughest away grounds. West Auckland had two ex-Consett players, Mattie Moffat and Jamie Poole, in their starting XI, and a third, Steven Brown, on the bench.
The opening stages were extremely cagey, and it was 19 minutes before either side managed a worthwhile attempt on goal. It was the home side who almost took the lead when centre-back Chris Carr headed goalwards from a left-wing cross, but Consett keeper Peter Jameson touched the ball onto the bar, and it was cleared. Two minutes later Consett carved out their first chance, when Calvin Smith fed Teasdale, who created space for a shot, only to watch his well-struck effort drift wide. The chance heralded a good spell of pressure from the Steelmen, and Smith was again the architect for a shot on the turn by Mackay which was deflected for a corner. A few minutes later the same two players combined again, and although Mackay's shot was blocked, the ball fell for Teasdale, whose rising shot just cleared the crossbar.
As half-time approached the home side got back on top, and their ex-Consett striker Mattie Moffat should have done better than volleying into the ground when a deep cross picked him out at the back post. Moffat's strike partner had hardly been in the game, but four minutes before the break showed why he had scored twice in each of West's last three games. He hit a shot early from Jonathan Gibson's cross, and was unlucky to see his effort come back off the post, with Jameson beaten.
The good luck didn't last long, though, and two minutes later the home side took the lead. Adam Rundle's corner from the right saw Carr rise highest in the box, and power a header home. Conceding a goal so close to half-time was a real blow, but it could have been worse; in added time Consett lost possession and the ball ended up with Campbell, whose short just cleared the angle of post and bar.
Half time: West 1-0 Consett
The early part of the second half again saw West take the initiative, and five minutes in, Moffat's shot from Campbell's set-up fizzed just past the post, with Jameson at full stretch. A minute later some excellent work by Steven Aiston down the right saw him put in a fabulous cross, but Teasdale and centre-back John Parker only managed to connect with each other as they swung at the ball. Carr had another chance on the hour, but headed over when another precise right-wing delivery by Rundle found him unmarked in the middle. The next goal was going to be crucial, and, unfortunately for Consett, it went to the home side. Again, they were the authors of their own misfortune, after conceding possession in the opposition half. West broke quickly, and when Campbell pass found midfielder Elliot Gardner, who swept the ball past Jameson from 15 yards.
By contrast, Consett forwards Mackay and Teasdale were feeding on scraps by now, as their supply from midfield had dried up, and both resorted to dropping deeper in search of the ball. On one such foraging mission, Lewey picked up a stray pass, but couldn't get his 30-yarder on target. On 75 minutes it was almost three goals to the home side, which would have definitely been game over, when David Scorer was penalised for fouling substitute Stuart Banks - so often the Steelmen's nemesis in this fixture in recent years. Campbell lined up the free-kick, but, to Consett's relief, put it wide of the post. A flurry of substitutions followed from both sides as the visitors sought a way back into the game, and West aimed to keep hold of their two-goal lead, and it was one of the Consett old boys, Brown, who almost created a killer third goal when he crossed for Rundle, who couldn't keep his volley down. With four minutes to go Consett at last had a shot on target - their first of the night. A deep cross from the left found its way to left-back Ian Davidson, who found himself, unusually, on the right, and he struck an effort goalwards, only to see it kicked away by a defender. The game ended as it had been for much of the second half, with West in the ascendancy, and Brown was inches away from grabbing an injury-time third goal with a 25-yard free-kick which dipped just wide.
When the final whistle went, Consett couldn't really complain at the result, as they had failed to take advantage of their best spell midway through the first half, and had run out of steam and ideas long before the end. They hadn't played badly, but never looked like scoring against a well-organised, hard-working West Auckland side who certainly look like being among the frontrunners for the title.
Full time: West 2-0 Consett