Darlington 0-1 Gateshead
Jon Shaw popped up with a precious winner two minutes into injury time to get 2012 off to a flying start with a first win over Darlington for half a century.
A hard fought North East derby looked destined to end goalless until Shaw headed into the corner of the net to shatter the troubled Quakers.
It was the striker's 24th goal of the season and one that ensured that Gateshead have scored in all but one of their 30 games this season.
A beleaguered Darlington had given their all in hugely difficult circumstances but could not find a cutting edge in the final third.
By contrast The Heed had Shaw who, despite being well marshalled in the two festive derbies, found the net with the only real chance that came his way.
The introduction of Yemi Odubade for the final half hour after a ten game absence was a welcome boost and the striker hit the bar in stoppage time.
Darlington, down to the bare bones, had the better of the first half but the Heed defence held firm and did so again after the break.
When the Quakers did get the ball into the net, twice, both efforts were ruled out for offside.
Gateshead improved after the break and Shaw's last gasp winner makes it just one defeat in the last nine league games, 2-1 at leaders Wrexham.
Former Quaker Micky Cummins had an early header from Martin Brittain's corner cleared off the line by Jamie Chandler.
Dale Hopson miscued at the other end with Chandler then spurning a good opportunity when he totally miscued when well placed.
The ball dropped fortuitously for Ryan Bowman who side-footed into an empty net only for a linesman's flag to rule out the shot.
Bowman was then in on the right of the box but shot past the angle under James Curtis's challenge while Marc Bridge-Wilkinson's 20-yard shot dipped just over the bar.
Shaw headed over from another Brittain corner and Phil Turnbull, who had been ill in the build up to the game, shot over from distance.
Graeme Lee, again impressive, nicked the ball off Shaw to find John McReady who in turn found Bowman but the striker shot straight at Tim Deasy.
Shaw then had a good opening when Cummins' headed a Chris Moore cross into his path but he scuffed his shot wide as he went to ground.
Bowman's glancing header was dealt with by Deasy who then comfortably held on to Hopson's drive after the youngster had beaten three players.
Adam Rundle then had an effort ruled out on the stroke of half-time for offside after Deasy had saved the original shot.
Cummins had a half chance two minutes into the second half but shot wide before Josh Gillies replaced Brittain ten minutes in.
Odubade then replaced Nathan Fisher on the hour and Ben Clark immediately headed narrowly wide from Sam Rents' free kick.
Gillies flashed a dangerous centre across the face of goal as Gateshead stepped up the pace.
Darlington earned their first corner on 65 minutes after Deasy had turned away Bridge-Wilkinson's free kick.
Another of the schemer's goalbound set plays struck Cummins on the head and then Rundle fizzed a centre across the six yard box.
Gillies shot over from 22 yards as the stalemate continued and then Moore had a shot blocked after great work down the right from Craig Baxter.
McReady was inches wide from just outside the box three minutes from time and then Bowman was unable to get on the end of Hopson's low cross.
Odubade looked to have won it for Gateshead when he unleashed a 20 yard left foot shot that thundered against the bar with Sam Russell beaten.
Just as a hard fought derby looked set to end goalless more good work from Baxter brought the match winning goal.
The full back's cross saw Darlington's makeshift central defender Kris Taylor head against Odubade's shoulder.
The ball looped goalwards where the predatory Shaw was on hand to head into the corner - much to the delight of the 300 strong Heed Army hordes behind the goal.
Deasy then did well to turn away a Taylor shot in a crowded area as Gateshead recorded their 9th away win of the season to move into 7th spot.
A Happy New Year for the Heed who will now look to take advantage of four home games in a fortnight, three of them in the Blue square Bet Premier.
Darlington: Russell, Arnison, Brown, Lee, Taylor, McReady, Chandler, Bridge-Wilkinson, Hopson, Bowman, Rundle
Subs (not used): Nixon (gk), Atkinson, P.Gray, Harrison, J.Gray
Gateshead: Deasy, Baxter, Rents, Moore, Curtis, Clark, Brittain (Gillies 55), Turnbull, Shaw, Fisher (Odubade 61), Cummins
Subs (not used): Alnwick (gk), Nix, Odhiambo
Goal: Shaw (90+2)
Booking: Curtis (86)
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)
Ben Clark wins the ball against Dale Hopson
Gateshead defend a Darlington attack
James Curtis challenges Ryan Bowman
Gateshead celebrate Jon Shaw's injury time winner. Photos by Les Hodge Photofirst Photography.