Gateshead 0-2 Kettering Town
Gateshead made it three Blue Square Premier games without a goal and six league games without a win as they slipped to a disappointing defeat against top six side Kettering Town.
The Tynesiders were all at sea in the first half and, while they dominated the second as Kettering sat deep, the damage had already been done.
Goals from on loan Peterborough United striker Kwesi Appiah and Darren Wrack - their first for there club - sealed Gateshead's feat.
However only heroics from goalkeeper Paul Farman prevented further damage in the first half when Jean-Paul Marna could easily have had a hat-trick.
Gateshead had their moments in an entertaining opening 45 minutes that saw both sides throw caution to the wind - but once again failed to find the back of the net.
The Tynesiders were booed off at both half-time and full-time by an increasingly frustrated home crowd with management duo Ian Bogie and Jeff Wrightson heading straight down the tunnel after the final whistle.
Bogie had appealed in the Tynesider Matchday magazine for the fans to keep the faith and stick with the side but patience is running thin on the terraces.
"I can understand the supporters frustrations and no doubt there will be a lot of critics after this latest setback but until tonight we had played well in recent games," said Bogie.
"Neither myself or the players will throw in the towel. Confidence was affected against Kettering but we know one win can be the spark that turns our season around.
"It was a poor performance in the first half when we were overrun in midfield and torn apart at the back, and while we bossed the second half too often the final ball was lacking.
"We didn't get close enough in the first period and Kettering took advantage of that and then shut up shop after the break.
"It's back to the drawing board but the players have to take it on the chin, roll up their sleeves in training on Thursday and then get back on track at Barrow.
"It is a difficult period for the club. Over the last couple of years we have had it pretty much our own way as we won games and scored a lot of goals.
"But we're now at the pinnacle of the non-league game and you have to be ruthless in both penalty areas. Hopefully there'll be more new faces to come as we look to freshen up the squad."
Gateshead may have drawn a blank in the goalscoring stakes in their last three league games but they have been denied by the woodwork on four occasions during that period.
Graeme Armstrong has been the unlucky recipient of three of those close shaves and it was a case of deja-vu against Kettering.
Just as against Luton Town on Saturday the striker struck the bar in the opening two minutes, both from out wide on the left.
Nathan Abbey's miscue saw Armstrong curl a shot over the back-tracking Poppies keeper from near to the touchline only for the ball to clip the top of the bar.
The dangerous Marna then got the better of Rikki Bains on the edge of the six yard box only for Farman to make a point blank save.
It was a sign of what was to come. A great inside ball from Marna on 15 minutes saw teenage front man Appiah race into the box to shoot past the advancing Gateshead keeper.
A deflected Marna shot through a ruck of players then saw an unsighted Farman pull off a fine one handed save just before the ball nested in the bottom corner.
Gateshead responded when Daryl Clare's measured lob released debutant James Sinclair but the former Bolton Wanderers man blazed over from 16 yards.
Farman then kept Gateshead in the game with a crucial one-on-one save from Marna after the striker had been put in by Marcus Kelly's ball over the top.
Another exquisite Clare touch then set up Phil Turnbull whose 22 yard drive was blocked by Abbey only for Sinclair to screw the rebound across goal.
It was Kettering however who doubled their lead five minutes from half-time. Appiah outmuscled Bains to release Wrack whose right foot shot found the net off the far post.
The Poppies were carving Gateshead open but Abbey had to pull off three saves in a minute to maintain the two goal advantage at half-time.
Armstrong's drive was tipped over, James Curtis' downward header from the resultant corner was clawed clear and then Sinclair's close range volley was blocked.
Determined that the second half would not be as open as the first the visitors employed a 'protect what you already have' approach and invited a misfiring Gateshead to break them down.
The Poppies only chance came when Patrick Noubissie sent Anthony Robinson clear but a poor first touch hampered the substitutes progress and his shot was wide of the post.
Clare and Farman had been Gateshead's stand out players with Curtis and Armstrong also putting in a shift and it was Clare who got in front of Abbey in the 71st minute only to head Bains' cross over the bar.
Armstrong's header then saw Clare cleverly lob a defender only to toe poke his shot just wide, and then Armstrong had a header blocked near the line.
Turnbull's chip into the box then saw debutant Brian Wake slice wide in the 89th minute to leave Gateshead third bottom and four points away from safety.
Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Robinson, Williams, Curtis, Bains, Sinclair (Wake 54), Turnbull, Armstrong, Clare, Phillips (Francis 54)
Subs: (not used) Provett (gk), Jones, McDermott,
Kettering Town: Abbey, Thelwell, Jennings, Wrack, Roper (Taylor 45), Dempster, Marna, Appiah, Dance, Noubissie, Kelly (Thomas 78)
Subs: (not used) Cooper (gk), Hadfield
Referee: Peter Wright (Southport)
No way through - Daryl Clare is blocked off by the Kettering defence during the 2-0 defeat at the International Stadium. Photo: Steven Hadlow