Gateshead 1-0 Wrexham

24/03/2010, by Jeff Bowron

Graeme ArmstrongGateshead took another step towards winning their battle to stay in the Blue Square Premier by slaying the Red Dragons at a wet International Stadium.

Fittingly it was lionheart centre forward Graeme Armstrong whose bravery was rewarded with the 55th minute headed winner that gave Gateshead consecutive league wins for the first time.

While Armstrong led from the front defensive colossus James Curtis was again just that in a precious 1-0 win in front of an improved crowd of 614.

There were good performances all over the pitch with Chris Swailes a rock at the back alongside the ever reliable Curtis.

Phil Cave, deputising for injured left back Paul Heckingbottom, gave an assured performance in his first outing for 14 games.

Andy Ferrell returned to bolster the midfield and form a useful partnership with Phil Turnbull in what was an excellent, well refereed, game which remained on a knife edge.

For mid-table Wrexham, without a number of players including top scorer Gareth Taylor, it was an 8th game without a win as the Welshmen's travails in front goal continued.

Gateshead meanwhile were missing inspirational captain Kris Gate as well as defenders Heckingbottom and Carl Jones but turned in a determined display to continue their good home form.

"We have won four of our last five games at the International Stadium and we deserved to come away with the three points in this game," said delighted manager Ian Bogie.

"The players deserve a lot of credit for the way they have come back from the 8-0 defeat at Rushden & Diamonds to get two big wins against Forest Green and Wrexham.

"It was an even first half with chances at both ends. I was pleased with the opening 45 minutes but felt we could do better and the goal came at just the right time.

"Armstrong showed typical bravery to get to a ball for which their keeper was favourite and was rewarded with what turned out to be the winning goal.

"We defended very well throughout. Wrexham only caused us problems from long throw ins and corners and Paul Farman had only one difficult save to make.

"At 1-0 we always looked capable of getting the second goal but when it doesn't come it becomes nervy as the game draws to a close.

"But it was a great performance and result against a full-time club with an 87 year Football League history and one that has further raised confidence.

"Three years ago we were slugging it out with the likes of Prescot Cables and Frickley Athletic and people shouldn't forget that.

"We've got a great chance of staying in the Conference Premier and now face two huge games at Oxford United and Eastbourne Borough in the next week."

Light rain began to fall leading up to kick-off and continued throughout the game giving the pitch a bit of zip that led to a high tempo game.

Wrexham may have had little to play for other than pride and a desire to get back to winning ways but there was no end of season feel to what was an enthralling game.

There was plenty of good football from both sides and Andy Parkinson had an early chance only for his deflected shot to be held by Chris Maxwell.

Craig Baxter then found Parkinson whose low cross saw Daryl Clare put an effort wide and then Armstrong was off target with a header from a Baxter free kick.

Ferrell had a great chance to put Gateshead in front midway through the half when set up by Clare's flick but the acting captain shot straight at Maxwell from eight yards.

Wrexham hadn't threatened but they were almost ahead a minute later when defender Ashley Westwood's header from Luke Holden's free kick hit the post with Farman beaten.

Lamine Sakho then shot over before a Clare free kick was curled beyond the defensive wall only for Wales U.21 international Maxwell to save low to his left.

Neil Taylor's cross saw Silvio Spann climb above Cave to head towards the far top corner where Farman tipped the ball past the angle at full stretch.

Winn immediately sent a 22 yard screamer over the bar at the other end as an entertaining first half ended goalless.

Gateshead, however, were ahead five minutes after the restart when when Winn's free kick on the right was headed clear as Curtis challenged in the air.

Ferrell put a cushioned volley back into the box over the advancing Dragons back line where Maxwell failed to punch clear, allowing Armstrong to nip in and head over the advancing keeper before he was clattered.

The combative front man put a bullet header from Cave's cross wide five minutes later before Wrexham went close to fashioning an equaliser.

After a Cave defensive header had looped into the air Nathan Fairhurst found fellow sub Wes Baynes whose short inside ball saw Curtis Obeng shoot wide of the far post from ten yards.

As the game entered the closing stages Gateshead were forced to defend deeper and Westwood met an Obeng cross only to power a header straight at Farman.

Baxter then had to make an important block from Neil Taylor's goalbound shot as the visitors threatened to deny Gateshead all three points.

Substitute Brian Wake, however, almost added a second for the Tynesiders in injury time when he he held off a defender to home in on goal but his left foot shot was blocked by Maxwell's legs.

 

Gateshead: Farman, Baxter, Cave, Ferrell, Curtis, Swailes, Parkinson (Phillips 75), Turnbull, Armstrong (Wake 76), Clare (Hurren 86), Winn. Subs (not used): Provett (gk), Buchanan

Goal: Armstrong (55)

Booking: Turnbull

 

Wrexham: Maxwell, Obeng, Westwood, Williams, Taboubi, Taylor, Spann (Baynes 46), Fleming, Sakho (Cieslewicz 76), Holden (Fairhurst 62), Mangan. Subs (not used): McLuskey, Edwards

Bookings: Maxwell, Fleming

 

Referee: Mark Brown (Hull)

Att: 614

 

Match highlights are available on Gateshead FC TV...

 

Gateshead striker Graeme Armstrong bravely heads over Wrexham goalkeeper Chris Maxwell for the 55th minute winner at the International Stadium

Gateshead striker Graeme Armstrong bravely heads over Wrexham goalkeeper Chris Maxwell for the 55th minute winner at the International Stadium.

 

Defensive colossus James Curtis salutes the Gateshead fans after the final whistle confirms a precious 1-0 win against Wrexham

Defensive colossus James Curtis salutes the Gateshead fans after the final whistle confirms a precious 1-0 win against Wrexham. Photos by Steven Hadlow.

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