Gateshead 3-2 Kettering Town
A Jon Shaw brace fired Gateshead into the 2nd round of the FA Trophy in what turned out to be a difficult afternoon against crisis club Kettering Town.
The cash-strapped Poppies were hit for seven in their last away game at York and must have feared the worst when Gateshead opened up a 3-1 lead at the halfway stage.
The Heed, however, took their foot off the gas after the break, and almost paid the price when Kettering had an equaliser rightly ruled out in stoppage time for offside.
What should have been a comfortable victory against a club in disarray on and off the pitch turned out to be anything but.
A cracking cup-tie played at a good tempo saw thrills and spills at both ends, Tim Deasy making three one-on-one saves on his seasonal home debut.
Gateshead created a host of chances but once again were unable to put a home game to bed when in front and were hanging on at the end.
The Tynesiders stormed into the attack forcing four corners in the opening five minutes, Shaw was in on the left in only the second minute after Jamie Navarro slipped.
Shaw was unable to pick out fellow front man Nathan Fisher while Phil Turnbull had to make an important challenge inside the box to deny Josh Dawkin at the other end.
Chris Moore's shot deflected into the side netting, some fans believing the ball had found the net, the winger then having an angled drive tipped past the post by Laurie Walker.
Fisher had a 24 yard low drive turned around the post before on loan Norwich City youngster Dawkin gave Kettering a shock 10th minute lead
The teenager's superb 25-yard shot flew into the top corner after Deasy had produced his first one-on-one save from the same player.
A terrible pass from Noubissie, however, sent Shaw racing clear six minutes later and there was only going to be one outcome as the Conference top gun found the bottom corner.
Fisher eased past Jerel Ifil on the right side of the box near the by-line and Walker just managed to tip away his low cross before Shaw could pounce.
Turnbull then sent Josh Gillies away down the left and his cross was smashed into the roof of the net by Kris Gate despite pressure from Mark Pryor.
It looked to be plain sailing when Moore threaded a pass through to Shaw who this time nonchalantly dinked the ball over the advancing Walker for another quality finish - his 23rd of the campaign.
That should have been that with the hard hit Poppies looking at damage limitation in the second half, but instead the struggling visitors came back into the game.
Deasy tipped a Robbie Dance cross shot past the far post and then Kiernan Hughes-Mason turned inside the penalty area only to shoot over.
Fisher remained lively but couldn't find the net, his latest effort deflected just wide by Davis' timely challenge.
Gateshead had fallen off the pace and they were prized open again when Ollie Jones put Hughes-Mason in on goal but Deasy advanced to make a crucial block.
Within a minute the Poppies were back in it when Sam Rents was judged to have fouled Hughes-Mason inside the penalty area and Davis swept home the spot kick.
That set up a nervy final half hour with only a great tackle from James Curtis preventing Hughes-Mason from putting the Poppies level.
Gateshead then peppered the Kettering goal without managing to score, Walker denying Shaw his 5th hat-trick of a magnificent 2011 with a full length save.
Fisher curled a 22 yard free kick past the angle, Gate volleyed wide from a similar position, Eddie Odhiambo was also off target and Turnbull was inches wide from the edge of the box.
A defiant Kettering again went close when Deasy had to claw a David Bridges header off the line as The Heed continued to look fragile defensively.
Moore should have eased home nerves six minutes from time when left with only Walker to beat following sub Martin Brittain's sweeping crossfield ball.
Moore's shot, however, lacked conviction and Walker made a comfortable save, Deasy then running 20 yards outside of his penalty area to just manage to kick clear from Hughes-Mason.
Gateshead were living dangerously in a pulsating cup-tie that went right to the wire and they were indebted to Deasy again in stoppage time.
The keeper's third one-on-one save set up a mighty scramble that saw Curtis turn away Bridge's angled shot, Dawkin then converting at the back post from close in.
Fortunately a linesman's flag ruled out the effort as Dawkin was in an offside position and Gateshead progressed to the 2nd round - but only just.
It was a case of the good, the bad and the ugly from Ian Bogie's side who will now look forward to Monday's FA Trophy draw.
Gateshead: Deasy, Odhiambo, Rents (Carruthers 63), Gate, Curtis, Clark, Moore, Turnbull, Shaw, Fisher (Mulligan 86), Gillies (Brittain 80)
Subs (not used): Baxter, Alnwick (gk)
Goals: Shaw (16,37), Gate (30)
Kettering Town: Walker, Davis, J.Ifil, Bridges, Navarro, Noubissie (Bradshaw 88), Hughes-Mason, Pryor (Kemjika 83), Dawkin, Jones, Dance (Beckley 67)
Subs (not used): Hayes, Burrows
Goals: Dawkin (10), Davis (pen-58)
Referee: Karl Evans (Wigan)
Jon Shaw scored twice for The Tynesiders
Kris Gate celebrates putting Gateshead 2-1 up
Josh Gillies. Photos by: Steven White www.imagesbysw.com.