Gateshead 1-4 Wrexham
Gateshead reserved their worst performance of the season for arguably their most important game so far as visitors Wrexham took over at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier.
A 4th minute Danny Wright goal set the scene for a hugely disappointing night in front of an expectant 1,258 crowd at the International Stadium.
The Dragons three second half goals; a big deflection, own goal and penalty put the lid on a forgettable evening.
It was fitting that Gateshead's goal came from acting captain Kris Gate, his fourth of the season, as the midfielder was one of the few Tynesiders to impress on the night.
The overwhelming majority were well below par as Wrexham made light of the loss of five regulars to romp to victory.
Gateshead were without both central defenders, Ben Clark and James Curtis, and their absence left a huge void at the back.
Curtis should return from his head injury at Ebbsfleet on Saturday but Clark is likely to be out for a month.
"Being without Clark and Curtis was a big blow," said disappointed Gateshead manager Ian Bogie "but you can't just blame the centre halves for the heavy defeat.
"We were poor all over the pitch. The manner we conceded the goals, and the amount of goals we have conceded, was very disappointing.
"We were ever so disjointed. We conceded an early goal, which was a killer blow, and another in the early stages of the second half which left us with a mountain to climb.
"We missed the two centre backs but it is all about having a strong squad. I believed on the night we had enough to cope, but we didn't and were punished badly.
"We didn't do enough in all areas and didn't look after the ball in the second half. Wrexham were full value for their win and we now have to bounce back on Saturday.
"A win at Ebbsfleet will eradicate the feeling we have after this defeat, and we have to get straight back on track.
"We've got to remember it is only our third defeat in 14 games and we are still in the top three.
"However, when players get an opportunity in the first team they have to grasp it with both hands.
"To concede four goals on your home patch in such an important game and in front of such a big crowd is bitterly disappointing."
Wright put the first nail in the coffin, picking up Dragons caretaker player-manager Andy Morrell's diagonal ball to sidestep debutant Ewan Moyes and find the far corner.
It was a good finish from the former Histon and Cambridge United man as the Heed's defensive frailties were cruelly exposed.
Yemi Odubade immediately ran at goal to hit a 30 yard shot that wasn't far off target and then Chris Carruthers hooked over from Jon Shaw's knockdown.
Gateshead, however, were in trouble again when Mark Creighton's header was saved on the line by Paul Farman, Adrian Cieslewicz's follow up blocked.
Eddie Odhiambo's cross saw Shaw's goalbound shot blocked by Creighton and then a Josh Gillies centre flew across goal untouched.
Gate's short ball saw Phil Turnbull's thunderbolt fly inches wide but Wrexham keeper Joslain Mayebi had still to be tested and the Heed lacked a spark.
Gateshead fell further behind after the break when Joe Clarke's shot from outside the box took a significant deflection to curl past Farman and into the far corner.
Creighton then peeled off his man to loop a header over Farman, the ball coming back off the post only to hit the unlucky Moyes and rebound into the net.
Gate pulled a goal back five minutes later, taking a ball from Martin Brittain, lively off the bench, to fire home off the far post.
Morrell then cut inside only to see his shot hit Moyes but there was more misery to come for a misfiring Gateshead.
Gillies was judged to have hauled down Curtis Obeng on the right side of the box and Keates drove home the resultant spot kick.
It was Gateshead's first home defeat of the season leaving Fleetwood Town with the Conference Premier's only unbeaten home record.
GATESHEAD: Farman, Odhiambo (Baxter 73), Rents, Gate, Moyes, Carruthers, Gillies (Fisher 80), Turnbull, Shaw, Odubade, Cummins (Brittain 57).
Subs (not used): Mulligan, Alnwick (gk)
Goal: Gate (62)
WREXHAM: Mayebi, Obeng, Ashton, Creighton, Harris (Hunt 69), Cieslewicz, Wright (Pogba 72), Morrell (Little 85), Keates, Knight-Percival, Clarke.
Subs (not used): Ward (gk), Anoruo
Goals: Wright (4), Clarke (49), Moyes-og (57), Keates-pen (77)
Bookings: Obeng (10), Clarke (74)
Referee: Steve Martin (Stafford)
Chris Carruthers stretches for the ball
Jon Shaw challenges the Wrexham keeper
Martin Brittain attacks the Wrexham defence
Micky Cummins takes on Wrexham defender Knight-Percival
Phil Turnbull challenges for the ball. Photos by Marin Avery and Michael Riddle.