Gateshead seal 4-0 West Auckland win
A much changed Gateshead side entertained West Auckland on Wednesday night in the first round of the Durham Cup, looking to reach the next stage of the competition for the first time since the 04/05 season.
Kris Gate stepped up his bid for fitness with a starting place on the right and it was his through ball in the 11th minute that created the first chance of the game, finding Ben Hutchinson who could not beat the returning Mark Bell in the West Auckland goal.
Hutchinson was involved again 11 minutes later when a long throw from Chris Hughes was headed back to the midfielder who volleyed just wide of Bell's right hand post.
Gateshead were putting the visitors under real pressure and their reward came on 37 minutes when Bell failed to claim a cross and the ball was subsequently headed in by a hapless West Auckland defender to give the hosts a slightly fortuitous lead.
One minute before the break and Gateshead were 2-0 up when a Gate freekick was pounced upon by Paul Thompson who beat the offside trap as well as the 'keeper to head home from six yards.
Half Time 2-0
West Auckland were creating chances without being clinical enough to cause the hosts any major problems and the game was effectively over ten minutes after the restart when good work from Ian Robson resulted in a needless foul inside the box. The resulting spot kick gave Thompson the opportunity to score his second of the game and the veteran striker duly obliged, hitting the ball into top left corner of the net to extend Gateshead's lead to 3-0.
On 71 minutes West Auckland had their best effort of the game when a cross cum shot from Lee Ellison was expertly tipped round the post by 16 year-old Alex Mackenzie who was capping off an impressive debut.
With eight minutes to go Thompson had a glorious opportunity to grab a hattrick when a cross from the right saw the former Hartlepool man one on one with the 'keeper, only to be thwarted by his former team mate Bell.
With a minute left on the clock Thompson did get his third when the ball fell kindly and the striker skipped past the defence to tap home and give Gateshead a comfortble 4-0 victory.
Full Time 4-0
Gateshead: Mackenzie, Percival, Talbot, Hughes, Lenders, Flynn (Hodgson 67mins), Robson (McCallum 75mins), Hutchinson, Thompson, Gate (McCallum 67mins), Bowey.
Unused: Anderson, Potts.