Gateshead 0-1 Stevenage Borough

21/04/2010, by Jeff Bowron

Daryl ClareOne point might do it - three points might not be enough! Such is the scenario on Saturday now that Gateshead's fate is out of their own hands for the first time this season.

The Tynesiders mindset has to be to beat an out of form AFC Wimbledon and hope that results elsewhere go their way on what will be a nerve-wracking final day.

Should Eastbourne Borough lose at home to third top Oxford United and Ebbsfleet United fail to win at Tamworth a draw against the Dons would do to stay up.

Neither of those results, however, can be relied upon and victory over the Dons is a must - though to do that Gateshead will have to end a four game goal drought.

A controversial first half penalty condemned Gateshead to defeat against Football League-bound Stevenage Borough in the penultimate game of the season at the International Stadium.

Stevenage were gifted a 21st minute lead when good work from Charlie Griffin saw Andy Drury’s overhit cross unluckily strike Wayne Phillips’ outstretched arm.

There was no intent and it was ball to hand but by the letter of the law Beverley referee Richard West had little option but to award a spot kick.

It proved to be the pivotal moment of the game and assistant manager Jeff Wrightson believed his side deserved more from the game.

"It was a definite penalty so I have no qualms on that score," said Wrightson "but there was no lack of passion or desire and over the 90 minutes we were unlucky not to get something out of the game.

"Unfortunately our destiny is now out of our own hands for the first time this season though I believe we will win on Saturday and stay up.

"We need the rub of the green and a big crowd to shout us home but we shouldn't be in this position as we've had plenty of chances to get out of the relegation scrap.

"Losing against Stevenage was disappointing but at least it was only by one goal as goal difference could be important.

"We've now got one massive game to play. It is important we preserve our Blue Square Premier status and hopefully we'll do that on Saturday."

Gateshead started on the front foot with Graeme Armstrong hitting a shot on the turn from 20 yards straight at Ashley Bayes.

Stacy Long then shot wide from 12 yards at the other end after Chris Swailes' headed clearance dropped invitingly for the midfielder.

Daryl Clare was Gateshead's main goal threat and the experienced front man's diagonal drive from outside the box forced a diving save from Bayes.

After Scott Laird had made no mistake from the penalty spot to put the visitors ahead Paul Farman had to tip over Drury’s stinging 22 yard drive.

Gateshead generally lacked the nous to unlock the best defence in the league and took 37 minutes to force their first corner.

Unfortunately delivery from out wide and from set plays was woeful all night with most either ender hit or over hit, too low or, more commonly, delivered with too much height.

With half-time approaching Phillips cut inside from the right but, with Craig Baxter well placed in a more central position, shot weakly at Bayes.

Clare then almost fashioned an equaliser from nothing just before the hour.

Baxter’s low cross deflected into the strikers path and, from the tightest of angles, his right foot shot came back off the bar.

David Bridges put a free header over from Long’s right side corner as Boro looked to put the game to bed and a poor Kris Gate clearance set up Long on the edge of the box only for the former Ebbsfleet player to fail to hit the target.

Drury was inches wide of the far post with a shot from the corner of the box before Gateshead belatedly made changes in the last ten minutes - and it nearly paid off.

Substitute Brian Wake almost levelled at the death with a blocked close range shot and a Clare header from sub Andy Ferrell’s resultant corner flew inches over the bar.

Stevenage sub Peter Vincenti immediately grazed the far post as the champions claimed a 10th consecutive away win to leave Gateshead on the precipice.

"We were in the fortunate position that, having won the league, we still had a record points total to go for and places to play for in the FA Trophy final," said Stevenage manager Graham Westley.

"I didn't see the incident for the penalty but Gateshead's players didn't complain and that is always a telling sign.

"It was difficult to play constructive football out there and Gateshead had chances at the death and could quite easily have nicked an equaliser."


GATESHEAD: Farman, Baxter, Heckingbottom, Gate, Curtis, Swailes, Phillips (Parkinson 87), Turnbull, Armstrong (Wake 82), Clare, Winn (Ferrell 82). Subs (not used): Provett (gk), Cave.

Booked: Turnbull, Ferrell.


STEVENAGE BOROUGH: Bayes, Wilson, Albrighton, Bostwick, Laird, Drury, Murphy, Bridges, Long (Vincenti 76), Griffin (Cole 55), Sills (Odhiambo 84). Subs (not used): Day (gk), Boylan.

Goal: Laird 21 (pen)


Referee: Richard West (Beverley)

Att: 702


Stevenage defender Scott Laird condemns Gateshead to a 1-0 defeat at the International Stadium with a 21st minute penalty

Stevenage defender Scott Laird condemns Gateshead to a 1-0 defeat at the International Stadium with a 21st minute penalty. Photo by Steven Hadlow.


Daryl Clare challenges goalkeeper Ashley Bayes for a high ball during the game against Blue Square Premier champions Stevenage Borough

Daryl Clare challenges goalkeeper Ashley Bayes for a high ball during the game against Blue Square Premier champions Stevenage Borough. Photo by Martin Avery.