Stevenage Borough 5-3 Gateshead
GATESHEAD put up a spirited display in an eight-goal Broadhall Way thriller in wet and windy Hertfordshire, but paid the price for defensive lapses at second-top Stevenage Borough.
The plucky Tynesiders eventually went down 5-3 despite a brace from on loan Mansfield Town striker Daryl Clare, and assistant manager Jeff Wrightson bemoaned what might have been.
The first half ended spectacularly with four goals in eight minutes as Gateshead took a 38th-minute lead, only to concede a triple blast that turned the game on its head.
Wrightson believes it could have all been different had his side showed some defensive steel in the closing minutes of the first half.
He said: "We adapted to the conditions better, had been comfortable and while we had bit of fortune with the goal we were in a strong position.
"We had done exceptionally well for 40 minutes but unfortunately an error from James Curtis, who has been immense for us, gave Stevenage the lift they needed.
"To then go in 3-1 down at the interval was unbelievable and we had a right pop at the players who then showed great character in the second half.
"It would have been easy to roll over in the circumstances, but we got back into the game only to concede a fourth a few minutes later.
"Even then we struck back with another Clare goal and then hit the post through Peter Winn before Stevenage scored a fifth in injury time.
"We went through a roller-coaster of emotions throughout an incredible game, but while we are disappointed with the result there was a lot to take from the performance."
Charlie Griffin headed a Craig Baxter free-kick into his own net to give Gateshead the lead, but Stevenage responded with a double, with Yemi Odubade also on target.
Clare reduced the deficit after a sharp turn, only for Griffin to bend the ball around the wall to complete his hat-trick, with Clare then making it 4-3 ten minutes from time.
Michael Bostock's late strike finally ended the fightback and Gateshead will now regroup for tomorrow's big FA Cup replay at Brentford.
Stevenage boss Graham Westley, meanwhile, was relieved to see his side get over the line against a Gateshead side who remain fifth bottom.
"It was a dangerous game for us. Gateshead have some really good players and are in good form so this was a good result for us though we were horrible today," said Westley.
"We haven't shipped three goals all season and were all over the place. Gateshead outworked us in the first half and how we were 3-1 up at half-time I'll never know."
GATESHEAD: Farman; Baxter, Curtis, Williams, Cave; Harwood (Harworth 64), Gate, Turnbull (Francis 77), Winn; Clare, Armstrong (One 68).
Subs (not used): Provett, Pelonde.
Goals: Griffin 38 og, Clare 69, 81.
Referee: D Ford (Reading).
Nov 16 2009 by Jeff Bowron, Evening Chronicle