Gateshead 1-0 Altrincham

24/02/2010, by Jeff Bowron

Craig BaxterIt took something special to prevent this attritional game from heading for only the second goalless draw of the season at the International Stadium - and it arrived in spectacular fashion 14 minutes from time.

Craig Baxter had few options when he picked up a ball 35 yards out on the right but unleashed a right foot thunderbolt that flew into the roof of the net beating Robins keeper Stuart Coburn at his near post.

Phil Turnbull had claimed the winner a week earlier with a stunning strike, but this was even better and it it gave Gateshead a vital three points.

This was not the gung ho Gateshead of late on home soil and, while Altrincham had a shot deflected onto the post by Paul Heckingbottom, the visitors were generally held ay bay.

Gateshead set up to be more solid and compact after conceding seven goals in their last three games on home soil and it worked.

While it led to a less attractive game it was a means to an end as a first clean sheet in the league at the International Stadium since November was achieved.

Gateshead's players even indulged in a pre-match huddle for the first time and assistant manager Jeff Wrightson was delighted with the response to Saturday's defeat against Ebbsfleet.

"The huddle showed the togetherness and spirit among the lads," said Wrightson "we wanted to be a lot more solid throughout the side and we achieved that which was reflected in the clean sheet.

"The pitch is awful and difficult to pass on so it was important we scrapped for every ball and made life difficult for the opposition.

"We had one bit of luck when Altrincham hit the post but generally we restricted them to shots from outside the box - and we should have had a penalty in the first half.

"We were well organised and disciplined and it was a great strike from Baxter to give us all three points to set up another big game against Forest Green on Saturday."

On a pudding of a pitch that had passed an inspection earlier in the day Gateshead had the better of the first half but couldn't gain an advantage.

Brian Wake was a focal point throughout the game but despite his best efforts is still looking for his first goal in front of the home fans.

It was Wake who shot just wide on the turn after 16 minutes and then put a free header from Peter Winn's cross wide, the move having been set up by Daryl Clare.

Winn then fired over from distance before Anthony Danylyk had two similar efforts blocked by home defenders outside the box at the other end.

Gateshead could, and probably should, have had a penalty on the half hour when James Curtis' cushioned header saw central defensive partner Carl Jones blast goalwards.

The ball appeared to be blocked by Greg Young's arm but Lancaster referee Jez Simpson, who otherwise had a good game, turned down penalty appeals.

Shaun Densmore curled a free kick over for the Robins before Wake again almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time.

Jones' pass was missed by Densmore for Winn to set up Wake who sidestepped his marker to pull the trigger - only for Young to make a lunging block to keep the game goalless.

Gateshead had an escape on 56 minutes when Densmore's shot deflected off Paul Heckingbottom and hit the foot of the post before being scrambled clear.

Good work from Winn down the left then saw the Scunthorpe man whip in a low cross that just evaded Wake, centrally placed and unmarked.

Both sides were getting bogged down on an unhelpful surface with chances few and far between - until Baxter's rocket changed the outcome of the game.

Substitute Phil Turnbull had a shot deflected wide and Winn shot straight at Coburn after taking a Clare pass in his stride.

At the other end Gateshead's back four, with Jones back alongside Curtis, remained defiant though Curtis had to make a vital challenge to prevent Altrincham from inflicting more injury-time heartache this season.

The final whistle was greeted with a roar of approval and relief and the result justified famed Norwegian fan Arvid the Viking's decision to extend his stay on Tyneside to take in both the Ebbsfleet and Altrincham games.

The return trip to Oslo will be have been much more palatable and Gateshead will now look to take another step towards safety with a win over relegation rivals Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.


Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Heckingbottom, Gate (Turnbull 70), Curtis, Jones, Parkinson, Ferrell, Wake (Armstrong 85), Clare, Winn.
Subs (not used): Provett (gk), Swailes, Sinclair.

Booked: Baxter.

Goal: Baxter (74m)


Altrincham: Coburn, Smith, Williams, Young, Densmore, Danylyk, Kearney (Little 76), Denham, Clee (Brown 63), McAliskey (Lawton 63), Senior.
Subs (not used): Saunders (gk), Welch.

Booked: Denham.


Referee: Jez Simpson (Lancaster)

Att: 489


Andy Ferrell stops Altrincham striker Chris Senior in his tracks

Andy Ferrell stops Altrincham striker Chris Senior in his tracks.


Peter Winn takes on a Robins defender during the 1-0 win at the International Stadium

Peter Winn takes on a Robins defender during the 1-0 win at the International Stadium. Photos by Steven Hadlow.