Chester City 2-1 Gateshead

The poison chalice that has become a central defensive birth at Gateshead took another turn for the worse at the Deva Stadium last night.

Long serving centre back James Curtis incredibly became the third Gateshead central defender to be sent off in the last five games.

Curtis saw red after just 19 minutes following a clash with Chester City striker Gregg Blundell with the double whammy completed when the former Darlington player drove home the resultant penalty.

Gateshead had only one player sent off, the on loan Craig Nelthorpe, in the whole of last season and two of the current crop of red cards have been for a professional foul.

The curse of the central defender has also extended to injury where both Carl Jones and Chris Swailes have spent lengthy periods on the sidelines this season.

The dependable Curtis will now sit out Saturday's trip to Kidderminster Harriers, but will be back for the visit of Rushden & Diamonds on Tuesday.

Despite playing three quarters of the game with ten men Gateshead were desperately unlucky not to take something out of the game in front of the lowest league crowd at the Deva Stadium for eight years, 994.

An inability to keep 11 players on the pitch however is a self inflicted handicap the Tynesiders can ill afford in the rarefied atmosphere of the Blue Square Premier.

"If we had kept 11 players on the field I have no doubt we would have won the game as Chester were poor and we dominated the game with ten men," said assistant manager Jeff Wrightson.

"Crucial decisions went against us at important times but their first goal came from a clearance inside their own box which is inexcusable.

"After that we were the better side. The players worked their socks off with ten men and Chester weren't a threat, which makes the defeat hard to take.

"Even after they had pinched a second goal Michael Mackay had two great chances, including a one-on-one, but couldn't find the net."

Wrightson, a distinguished centre half for Gateshead during the club's previous spell in the Conference, cannot understand how three central defenders can be sent off inside three weeks.

"Two of them have been for professional fouls," he said "it is poor defending, either individually or collectively, with players ball watching - and it has to stop."

Curtis had a header cleared off the line by Michael Lea before Blundell collapsed under a challenge from the giant defender midway through the first half.

Blundell's spot kick put City in front but it was Gateshead who played the better football with John Danby saving from Mackay and then getting down low to deny Armand One.

Nick Chadwick headed a Neil Ashton corner over the bar at the other end while the hard working Gate tested Danby before the interval.

Chester's only shot on target in the first period was the penalty and it took only five minutes of the second half for ten man Gateshead to level.

Gate swung in a cross that evaded Lea and Mackay made no mistake with a low shot into the bottom corner.

The Tynesiders gave as good as they got despite their numerical disadvantage but suffered a 76th minute sickener as Chester confirmed only their third home win in 2009.

Ashton was the provider with a cross that saw striker Chadwick loop a header over Jim Provett to give Gateshead another blank away day.

Ian Bogie's men however could easily have avoided defeat in the closing stages as Mackay had two efforts saved by Danby, the second when only left with the City keeper to beat following a One flick on.

"The sending off killed us," said Bogie "we battered them with ten men but if we had had all 11 for the duration of the game we would have won comfortably."

Gateshead: Provett, Baxter, Robinson, Gate (Phillips 79m), Curtis, Pelonde, Ascherl (McDermott 63m), Turnbull, One, Richardson (Swailes 23m), Mackay
Subs; (not used) Farman (gk), Armstrong

Att: 994

By Jeff Bowron