Gateshead 1-1 Kettering Town
Gateshead remain at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier after an impressive opening week despite dropping two points at home to bogey team Kettering Town.
Gateshead had only won three of the previous 26 meetings between the two clubs, and only one on Tyneside, and were once again frustrated by the Poppies.
After impressive wins over Kidderminster Harriers and Mansfield Town it was a below par Heed who failed to build on Jon Shaw's 4th minute opener from the penalty spot.
Had Shaw's looping header gone in early in the second half instead of hitting the inside of the post and rolling along the line it would have been a third straight win for the Tynesiders.
Instead former Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie fired home an impressive equaliser just past the hour and even a red card for Steve Meechan on 74 minutes failed to bring a home winner.
"It was a frustrating afternoon," admitted Gateshead assistant manager Terry Mitchell "Kettering were there for the taking but we failed to capitalise on our flying start.
"It is disappointing to drop two points at home and not play well. Few of the players were at their best but we are still unbeaten and top of the league.
"Seven points out of nine is a great start to the season and we hope to be still unbeaten when we host Grimsby Town in our next home game on the Bank Holiday Monday."
There was early drama when Shaw's cross was volleyed back to Poppies keeper Laurie Walker by Marcus kelly, referee Richard West controversially giving the Heed a free kick for a back pass.
Chris Carruthers hammered a seven yard shot into the massed ranks of red shirts but the incident clearly unnerved the visitors.
Gateshead had men spare at the back post when a ball was swung in from the right and Phi Ifil was judged to have pushed Shaw in the back.
Shaw, the subject of a rejected £40,000 bid from Luton Town, duly maintained his goal a game start to the season from the penalty spot.
It was a dream start for the table toppers and Kris Gate then set up a good chance for Shaw who was unable to beat Walker from nine yards.
Eddie Odhiambo, again impressive at right back, had to slide a dangerous Moses Ashikodi cross over his own bar at the other end as Kettering saw plenty of the ball.
Efforts from Micky Cummins and Nathan Fisher, a long range shot and a header, failed to trouble Walker but a great challenge from Odhiambo near halfway almost set up another Heed goal.
Under pressure from Shaw Walker's clearance fell to Yemi Odubade 45 yards out but, with the goal unguarded, his shot sailed wide with Walker stranded.
Claims for a second penalty following Jerel Ifil's challenge on Odubade went unrewarded on the stroke of half-time and Cummins then side-footed wide in the first minute of the second half.
Gateshead were unable to hit their straps but were unlucky not to double their lead when Phil Turnbull's curling cross from the right saw Shaw rise well to head against the far post.
Had that got in it could well have been game over and Gateshead would now be two points clear at the top instead of taking pole position on goal difference.
Manager Ian Bogie threw on Chris Moore for Fisher 11 minutes into the second half and the winger immediately cut inside to test Walker with a 22 yard drive.
Kettering, however, were back on terms minutes after Moses Ashikodi had fired a warning shot with an angled effort that flew inches wide.
Warning unheeded Jean-Paul Marna found McKenzie on the right side of the box and the experienced front man checked on to his left foot before shooting into the roof of the net.
Gateshead had struggled to impose themselves in midfield though Gate did his best to keep his side on the winning front.
The Tynesiders vice-captain burst into the right side of the box from Shaw's through ball to dink a chip over Walker that just cleared the bar and landed on the top of the net.
Poppies midfielder Steven Meechan was then sent off for a lunge on halfway on James Curtis with 16 minutes left on the clock and Gate almost pinched an injury time winner from Shaw's cross.
Walker, however, pulled off a fine reaction save to leave Gateshead heading to Southport and Barrow this week in search of the points that will keep them at the summit.
Gateshead: Farman, Odhiambo, Carruthers, Gate, Curtis, Clark, Fisher (Moore 56), Turnbull, Shaw, Odubade, Cummins (Mulligan 82):
Subs (not used): Deasy (gk), Rents, Baxter
Goal: Shaw - pen (4)
Kettering Town: Walker, P.Ifil, J.IFIL, Ashikodi (Thomson 84), Verma, Marna, Kelly, McKenzie (Challinor 75), Meechan, Taft, Noubissie
Subs (not used): Haxia (gk), Parry
Goal: McKenzie (62)
Bookings: Marna (6), Meechan (49)
Sent Off: Meechan (74)
Referee: Richard West (Beverley)
Yemi Odubade. Photos by Martin Avery and Michael Riddle.