Gateshead Reserves 0-3 Spennymoor Town - Durham Challenge Cup Final
Gateshead reserves relaxed their grip on the Durham Challenge Cup after a disappointing final at the Hetton Centre.
Trailing to an early goal from former Heed striker Adam Johnston the reserves had plenty of possession in the first half without creating clear cut openings.
An ankle injury to Chris Carruthers sparked a disastrous end to the half as the Moors added a second in the 44th minute from Gavin Cogdon to kill the game stone dead.
Carruthers will now miss the Easter games at home to Barrow on Saturday and at Grimsby Town on Monday to leave already depleted resources further stretched.
Martin Brittain and James Marwood were both withdrawn at the interval leaving goalkeeper Tim Deasy and wide man Chris Moore as the only pro's on duty in the second 45 minutes.
The second half was men against boys - literally - as the Moors added a third through Danny Moore's 65th minute header.
With the majority of the side teenagers Gateshead's second string never threatened to get back into a final which petered out long before the end.
Carruthers headed a Brittain corner straight at Moors keeper Rob Deane early on before Johnston headed home the opener after ten minutes.
Jonny Evans' short ball then put Moore in on the left side of the box but his cross was too close to the keeper.
Evans then had a powerful 14-yard header held by Deane as Gateshead attempted to claw their way back into the tie.
The pacy Cogdon, however, almost made it two when he cut inside to have a low shot saved by Deasy, Craig Ruddy then volleying just past the angle.
Another Carruthers header from a Brittain corner had to be tipped over the bar and then, after forcing three consecutive corners, Moore's 22-yard shot flew just past the post.
A Nick Doyle foul on Cogdon brought the killer second goal. Johnston quickly released Cogdon who skipped into the box to nudge the ball past Deasy.
Weakened by the absence of Carruthers, Marwood and Brittain for the second period the Heed youngsters battled gamely against insurmountable odds.
A far more experienced Spennymoor side coasted to victory, Moore heading the third after Steven Capper had got to the byline.
Lewis Lynch shot wide as the reserves ended a forgettable second half with a bit of a flurry, David Short having earlier had a shot deflected wide.
"Unfortunately, due to all the injuries and suspensions and three games in four days for the club, we had to field our weakest side of the season," said Gateshead reserves manager Paul Bryson.
"I was pleased with the way we played through Spennymoor in the first half after conceding the early goal and that forced them to change their shape.
"But in the second half we had nine youngsters on the park, the majority of whom are still playing junior football.
"The second goal cost us. Spennymoor have got some good players and strength in depth and it was always going to be tough to win the County Cup again.
"The final turned out to be a non-event and I feel sorry for the large number of Gateshead supporters who came through but circumstances conspired against us."
Gateshead Res: Deasy, Doyle, Carruthers (Short 39), Lynch, Gilbert, Mole, Brittain (Brown 46), Evans, Marshall, Marwood (Luke 46), Moore
Sub (not used): Sharpe (gk)
Spennymoor Town: Deane, Griffiths, Foster, Graydon, Ryan, Capper, Ruddy, Moore, Johnston (Richardson 62), Peacock (Andrews 72), Cogdon (Dodds 72)
Subs (not used): Laws, Turns (gk)
Referee: Martin Coy (Durham)
Gateshead Reserves line-up for the team photo before kick-off
Captain Luke Gilbert takes on former Gateshead striker Adam Johnston
Striker Jordan Marshall takes on former Darlington and Mansfield defender Stephen Foster
Substitute David Luke tries to get Gateshead going in the 2nd half
Forward Dominic Brown takes on ex-Gateshead midfielder Keith Graydon.
Coaches Derek Forrest and Paul Bryson watch on. Photos by Martin Avery.