Ashton United 0 - 1 Gateshead
Apr 21 2008 Evening Chronicle by Jeff Bowron
A 1-0 WIN at Ashton United gave third-placed Gateshead their eighth win in their last nine league games and opened up a 16-point gap ahead of fourth-top Eastwood Town.
Captain Steve Bowey scored the all-important goal at Hurst Cross after 67 minutes to maintain Gateshead's momentum ahead of the play-offs.
Bowey converted substitute David Southern's cross at the second attempt with the aid of a deflection to settle a scrappy affair on Thameside.
Gateshead now have a week to recharge the batteries before they entertain play-off hopefuls Buxton in the final game of the regular season on Saturday.
The Tynesiders rested defenders Carl Jones and Craig Baxter at Ashton, with Paul Brayson and Southern limited to cameos off the bench.
Manager Ian Bogie will again mix and match against Buxton with one eye on next Tuesday's play-off semi-final at the International Stadium.
Bogie said: "I'll shuffle the pack against next weekend and I'm not bothered whether it's Buxton, Eastwood or Guiseley we face in the first play-off game.
"It wasn't a classic game or performance against Ashton but we fully deserved another victory as we once again kept a clean sheet.
"Ashton are in mid-table but not yet mathematically safe, so they set their stall out to earn a draw and went with only one up front.
"It was a negative formation and, while we controlled the game throughout, we didn't work their keeper enough and the winning goal was in keeping with a scrappy game.
"We could have scored more goals and Brayson had two one-on-ones after he had come on in the second half, while Wayne Phillips blasted over from 12 yards when well placed.
"We're in a fantastic run and the players deserve a lot of credit. We've put together a winning set of results and will approach the play-offs with confidence."
Central defender James Curtis was withdrawn late in the game as a precaution after taking a knock on the knee, but Bogie expects a full squad to be available for the big games ahead.
Fleetwood Town, meanwhile, will be crowned champions if they win their last two games after long-term leaders Witton Albion dropped two points at North Ferriby on Saturday.