Luton Town 2-2 Gateshead
Gateshead held title favourites Luton Town to a draw in front of crowd approaching 7,000 at Kenilworth Road - and it could have been even better.
The Heed roared into a two goal interval lead courtesy of two goals in ten minutes from strike duo Liam Hatch and Yemi Odubade.
The rampant Tynesiders had chances to put the game beyond a reeling Luton who were booed off at half-time.
The introduction of summer signing from Gateshead, Jon Shaw, for the second half, however, galvanised the Hatters.
Shaw scored 35 goals for the Tynesiders last season and he equalised on the hour, Stuart Fleetwood then levelling ten minutes later.
Just before Luton's equaliser The Heed had a strong claim for a penalty for a foul on Odubade turned down.
Hatch then almost won it with a late header that clipped the bar to leave manager Ian Bogie both delighted and frustrated.
"We didn't go to Luton to make up the numbers," said Bogie "we controlled the game for long periods and could easily have come away with all three points.
"Luton created nothing in the first half and went route one in the second when they brought Shaw on at half-time.
"At 2-1 up we were denied a stonewall penalty for a foul on Odubade and had another good shout for a penalty after a foul on Magnay.
"It was a great performance. Luton were fortunate to get a point and we now have to back this up at home to Mansfield Town on Tuesday."
Luton's only first half threat came in the second minute when JJ O'Donnell's long range shot was saved by Adam Bartlett.
Other than that Bartlett had little to do and Gateshead went on to cause Luton all sorts of problems in the second half of the first period.
The Tynesiders were ahead on 25 minutes when former Luton loanee Hatch headed home Josh Gillies' corner.
Micky Cummins' through ball then split the home defence and the fleet-footed Odubade raced clear to shoot past Mark Tyler.
It was now all Gateshead and Odubade took Cummins' pass to cut inside only to see his shot blocked by Janos Kovacs
Gillies then latched on to a Hatch header but failed to get the better of Tyler in the home goal.
Luton changed their line of attack for the second half going more direct and were back in it when Shaw, under pressure from Chris Bush, converted Fleetwood's low cross.
That lifted the large home crowd though Gillies curled wide of the right hand post after an Odubade cross had been half cleared.
Luton were level on 71 minutes when Fleetwood pounced on to Scott Rendell's misplaced header to hook across Bartlett.
Within a minute Cummins had a great chance to restore the Heed's lead but blazed wastefully over the bar.
Both sides were hunting for a winner and Hatters sub Adam Watkins went close with a shot that flashed just wide.
Hatch's header from James Marwood's 88th minute corner then hit the bar as both sides had to settle for an entertaining opening day draw.
Luton Town: Tyler, Rowe, Taylor (Lawless 46), Kovacs, Henry, O'Donnell, Kassim (Shaw 46), Howells, Rendell, Fleetwood, Gray (Watkins 69)
Subs (not used): Brill (gk), Beckwith
Goals: Shaw (61), Fleetwood (71)
Gateshead: Bartlett, Magnay, Bush, Chandler, Curtis, Clark, Gillies (Marwood 67), Turnbull, Hatch, Odubade (Fisher 75), Cummins (Boyle 77)
Subs (not used): Nixon (gk), Wilson
Goals: Hatch (25), Odubade (35)
Referee: Nick Kinseley (Essex)
Liam Hatch opens the scoring. Photos by Gareth Owen.