REPORT | Consett AFC 2-1 Dunston
Dunston endured another frustrating day - this time in County Durham against Consett, going down 2-1 in the first game of 2023.
A first half penalty by Scott Fenwick gave Consett the lead against the run of play, before the striker added a second midway through the second half to double his sides advantage. Dunston hauled themselves back into the game thanks to Carl Finnigan on 72 minutes but it was too little to late as the hosts held onto victory.
Chris Swailes opted for Dan Staples in goal for the tough away trip, whilst Jon Shaw made his first start for Dunston since victory at Stockton Town back in October.
Dunston started the game much the faster and Consett stopper Ross Coombe was called into action on just three minutes after an audacious lob from Carl Finnigan was saved. Michael Fowler was the next to have a go, this time firing a volley over the crossbar following good work down the wing.
Fowler was again involved on 20 minutes, but he could not quite get his header on target after a delightful Jack Elliott cross from out wide on the counter attack. On 23 minutes, Dunston had their best chance of the half when a deep corner towards the back post found Jon Shaw, but the centre-back could only find the post.
Consett looked to hit back against the run of play and Dunston would rue their inability to grab a goal when the hosts were awarded a penalty following a foul by Jude Swailes which was deemed to be inside the box. Fenwick stepped up and cooly dispatched his effort to give Consett the lead.
As Dunston looked to hit back and get some reward for their dominance, Finnigan had the final chance of the half - but he lashed his effort over the bar following another inviting cross from out wide.
Dunston had to respond in the second half, and again would argue that they had the better of the chances. Terry Galbraith fizzed a free-kick towards goal which was easily saved by Coombe, before Ursene Mouanda fired well over the bar.
A sloppy few minutes midway through the half would prove decisive however. First, Keiran Aplin hit the bar for Consett after a strike from range, and then a defensive error just a minute later allowed Fenwick to score his second and double his sides lead.
Liam Thear was introduced to try and give Dunston a lifeline, and he so nearly got Dunston back into it on 68 minutes when he picked up the ball from a free kick, spun and unleashed an effort which struck the post.
On 72 minutes, Finnigan did get Dunston right back in the game when he slid the ball into the bottom corner inside the box despite offside claims from the home supporters.
Dunston threw everything at their hosts on a freezing day in County Durham, and Fowler had two more half chances - first firing over from range and then heading just wide from a cross. Despite their endeavour and with time running out, Dunston's misery was compounded when goalkeeper Staples was red carded after handling outside the box with Consett on the break.
A tough result to take having been the dominant side all game. Dunston face Shildon next weekend at the UTS Stadium, with it now looking like a very important game if Dunston are to keep up the pace with the other play-off tracking teams and halt the small post Christmas slump.
Match report by Dom Bingham