Gateshead 1-1 Tamworth
A Jekyll & Hyde Gateshead followed Saturday's superb performance at Luton Town with a dismal effort against fellow promoted side Tamworth at the International Stadium.
While Ian Bogie's side deserved at least a share of the spoils at Kenilworth Road this was very much a point gained - the first of the new season - against The Lambs.
It took Gateshead 75 minutes to register a shot on target and there were only four minutes left on the clock when substitute Jamie Harwood volleyed home from close range.
It was a fittingly scrappy goal after a disjointed display with Mark Robinson's long throw causing confusion and Harwood pouncing at the near post.
For the second consecutive home game Gateshead conceded the first killer goal of the game on the stroke of half-time.
Despite Tamworth rarely threatening after the break the Tynesiders didn't look like forcing an equaliser, but having done so almost pinched victory in the dying seconds.
"It was very much a point gained and it is difficult to comprehend how we could do so well at Luton and then three days later put in a performance like this," said assistant manager Jeff Wrightson.
"We were very poor in the first and while we were marginally better in the second, and showed a bit more urgency, we struggled to get our game together.
"In the system we play we rely a lot on the wide men but there was little coming from this area and we didn't threaten until the latter stages.
"After the goal we could have nicked it but the positive is that we kept plugging away and got our reward, and we've got our first point on the board."
"We showed endeavour but Tamworth came with a shape and system that worked well for them and we never got out of the traps."
It was a frustrating 90 minutes for a disappointing crowd of 429 with the performance of veteran central defender Chris Swailes on his competitive debut one of the few highlights.
The 38 year old however might have done better when he headed wide from Martin Brittain's 6th minute corner and the home faithful had to wait until the half hour for the next threat on the Lambs goal.
Another Brittain corner saw James Curtis's header deflected wide and when Steven Richardson's volley was blocked strike partner Michael Mackay blazed over.
Tamworth had been the more assured on the ball without hurting the home defence - until the 42nd minute.
Alex Rodman glided past Curtis and with Jim Provett caught in no mans land calmly lifted the ball over the exposed keeper.
It was another late hammer blow for a Gateshead side still finding its feet in the Blue Square Premier and left them again chasing the game.
A rare move of quality saw Kris Gate and Wayne Phillips set up Richardson but the strikers shot lacked power.
A Darren Forsyth header then put Mackay in but the Hartlepool front man shot high and wide with his left foot, and then a Curtis error almost created an opening for Jake Sheridan.
Lambs keeper Danny Alcock finally made his first save of the game with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Substitute Alex Francis drove a free kick through the defensive wall which Alcock saved and then flicked the loose ball away with his hand before Mackay could pounce.
The effort lifted the crowd and Harwood cut inside to shoot straight at Alcock while Gate's 25 yard drive flew just wide.
A point however was rescued when Robinson's long throw evaded both Curtis and Tamworth defenders Des Lyttle and Michael Briscoe at the near post.
A scramble ensued and Harwood lashed the ball home from c.lose range. Phil Turnbull then got behind the visitors defence only to over cook his cross and Richardson shot wide in injury time.
In the end Gateshead were grateful for a point and management pair Bogie and Wrightson will demand a significant improvement at top five side Crawley Town on Saturday.
Gateshead: Provett, Baxter (Harwood 78), Robinson, Gate, Curtis, Swailes, Brittain (Forsyth 56), Turnbull, Mackay, Richardson, Phillips (Francis 56)
Subs: (not used) Farman (gk), Jones
By Jeff Bowron