Two Consett goals in the closing 14 minutes ended the Hoops’
hopes of making a 20th anniversary return to Wembley in the FA Vase.
But manager Derek Hares and his young side can feel proud both of their brave performance in defeat, and also of their achievement in taking the club to the fifth-round stage for the first time since the Hoops lifted the trophy in 2000.
In front of a Consett record crowd of 866, which included nearly 100 Hoops fans who had made the long trip to County Durham, Deal knew they would be tested defensively by a side who have scored 71 goals in 26 Northern League games this season.
But Consett were made to wait a long time by a stubborn Deal rearguard action before finally breaking through in the 76th minute when Ali Alshabeeb’s ball into the box was finished off from eight yards out by Luke Carr.
Hares responded by throwing on another attacker, Ryan Lewis, in place of Alfie Foster and Lewis almost created the equaliser two minutes later with a strong left-wing burst but no team-mate was able to get on the end of his cross.
The Steelmen then added a second clinching goal five minutes from time when Carr’s corner was headed home by the Consett captain, Arjun Purewal, and although Charlie Walsh went close to reducing the deficit with his injury-time lob the home side finished deserved winners.
In an evenly-contested opening 45 minutes Consett had created more scoring opportunities but their efforts were either off-target or saved by Hoops’ goalie James Tonkin, while at the other end Connor Coyne headed Deal’s best chance of the half narrowly over the bar.
Joe Reeves came on at the start of the second half and “Reevo” almost gave Deal the lead following good work by Jack Paxman, but as the half progressed and the weather worsened Consett eventually turned their growing control into the two goals which earned the Steelmen their first-ever visit to the Vase quarter-finals.
Deal: Tonkin, Paxman, Smith, Foster (Lewis 78), Hark, Scott (Maughan 70), Munday, Walsh, Chapman, O’Brien, Coyne (Reeves 46).
The Hoops held their end –of-season “presentation evening” on Friday but, like so much else at the moment, it took place in unusual circumstances. Because