Whickham FC ended Consett AFC’s winning streak in the league with a solid defensive display and a second half goal from Zak Atkinson sealing the three points for the Lang Jacks.
The visitors hounded Consett for the ball throughout the entire match with both sides having strong periods of possession but with the hosts coming closest after Atkinson’s goal by forcing Regan Ward into a save before smashing the post seconds later nonetheless the away side stayed resolute for the victory.
Mark Convery only made one change the starting lineup that defeated Ryhope CW on Saturday – Tom Scothern replacing Jack Robson at right-wing – leaving Robson out of the squad entirely in place of player coach – Steven Bowey.
The Lang Jacks began the match pressing The Steelmen into giving the ball way and creating the first shot of the game when Conor Newton stole the ball – in the left-flank – before whipping a cross into an advancing Alex Francis who headed over the top of the goal.
The hosts had their first effort on target in the 12th minute forcing a save out of Regan Ward after Luke Carr attempted to catch the goalkeeper out at his near post from the right side of the area before Dale Pearson saw his header caught from close range two minutes later after a free-kick was hooked into the path of the striker.
The rest of the first half consisted of ‘nearly’ moments for Mark Convery’s side including a volley from Atkinson sent over the bar and Newton being close to latching onto a bad back pass.
Francis also came close before the break hammering a 30-yard shot fizzing over the crossbar.
The first twenty minutes to the second half saw more of the ball for Consett AFC but the home side were unable to find a final finish coming closest just before the hour mark with Luke Carr firing over the top after playing a one-two down the right flank before cutting inside onto his left foot.
In the 62nd minute Alex Francis hobbled off after what appeared to be a knee injury and was replaced by 16-year old Declan Bisset.
Atkinson then netted his fourth goal in five games in the 67th minute – rounding the goalkeeper and tapping home after intercepting a soft back-pass: giving the black and white’s the lead against the run of play.
After the deadlock was broken, the blues ramped up the pressure from when they conceded almost scoring straight away after a cutback from the right-wing was met by Pearson who smashed the ball into Dale Burrell who was very thankful the see the effort deflect just over the top.
Kyle Downey had the closest effort in the last twenty minutes with a bending free-kick which went just wide of the post before Downey and Scothern were replaced by Ross Peareth and Lee McAndrew shortly after the free-kick.
The home side had several chances to level the scores late on including hitting the woodwork twice within short space of each other, the first effort tipped against the post by Ward after a slick move down the right side before the ball eventually fell to Darren Holden on the edge of the box – with the full-back smashing the woodwork again with four minutes remaining.
After Scott Robson was sent off for a second yellow for a late challenge on Holden, Consett nearly stole a point in the fourth minute of added time when a shot from the left side of Whickham’s box fizzed past the post.
Whickham FC: R. Ward, T. Howard, C. Exley, K. Galbraith, D. Burrell, K. Downey (R. Peareth 74′), C. Newton, A. Francis (D. Bisset 62′), T. Scothern (L.McAndrew 79′), S. Robson, Z. Atkinson. Subs not used: J. Errington, S. Bowey
Things we learned:
- Atkinson’s hold up play and goals are significant to Whickham FC in games where the other team has more possession as he slows down the play – bringing the speedy wingers and advancing midfield into the attack – giving the defence a breather (as well as his important goals).
- The Lang Jacks seem to have improved defensively with the new centre-back partnership between Dale Burrell and Kieran Galbraith with the former being able to start counter attacks and help break a press because of his ability on the ball allowing Whickham to break out quickly.
- When the entire team put in 100% work rate they are capable of beating the very best in the league.
Despite no selected man of the match due to all of the team performing up to an exceptional level, Ben Robinson spoke to Kieran Galbraith after the match to discuss his side’s victory: