GATESHEAD made it three wins from three on the road as two second half goals saw Ben Clark’s side to a 2-0 win at Aldershot Town and stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches.
After a goalless opening 45-minutes, first league goals for Connor Thomson and Cameron Salkeld were enough to claim another three points for the Heed which saw them rise back into the play-off places.
After another turbulent week on Tyneside which saw ever-present centre-back Fraser Kerr offloaded to National League rivals Hartlepool United, Gateshead’s players and staff set-off from the International Stadium at 6:30am on Saturday morning to make the over 600 mile round trip to relegation-threatened Aldershot.
Tom Devitt replaced Kerr in the starting XI as the Tynesiders only change from last Saturday’s draw at home to Wrexham.
After making the mammoth journey down to the EBB Stadium immediately before playing the match, the Heed players took some time to get into their groove as Aldershot applied the early pressure.
Bernard Mensah and John Goddard forced good saves from Heed goalkeeper Aynsley Pears in what was otherwise a largely uneventful opening 45-minutes.
Gateshead failed to register a shot on target in the first half with a Scott Barrow strike from distance being the only real chance for the visitors.
Seconds into the second half, Goddard was testing Pears again as his central strike from distance was well handled by the Middlesbrough loanee.
Still, the game was a very cagey affair as few meaningful chances were created until just after the hour mark.
A great move from the Heed saw Barrow play a neat one-two with Greg Olley before delivering a pin-point cross from the left onto the head of Thomson who found the right corner of the goal with deadly accuracy for his first Gateshead goal in the National League.
It was Gateshead’s first shot on target in the match but once the goal went in, Clark’s side looked in control of the game as they limited Aldershot to very little.
Soon after giving Gateshead the lead, Thomson could have doubled their advantage as Tom White’s clipped ball found the Heed number 7 through on goal only for Jake Cole to rush out of his net quickly to close the angle down and keep the score 1-0.
Olley then sliced a volley wide of the right post from close range shortly after as Gateshead continued to look for a second goal going into the closing stages.
Substitute Salkeld then won a corner with five minutes on the clock. Olley curled in a low ball that was miss-hit by Mike Williamson and kept alive by Tom Devitt before Salkeld smashed the ball in himself at the back post.
It was a first league goal for the young winger, who jumped up and punched the air with joy after opening his account and effectively secure another three points.
At 2-0 Gateshead ran the clock down but still almost let Aldershot grab a consolation as Jacob Berekley-Agyepong low ball across the face of goal from the left was inches from being turned in by Shamir Fenelon at the back post but the chance went begging.
Then the full-time whistle blew to confirm another three points and clean sheet for the Heed which takes them to 6th with 10 games remaining – some achievement given the circumstances.
Aldershot Town: Cole; Elokobi, Howell ©, Bernard, Lelan (McDonagh 72), Gallagher (Fenelon 81), Booty, Mensah, Menayese, Grant (Berekley-Agyepong 81), Goddard
Subs not used: McCoy, Finney
Gateshead (3-5-2): Pears; Devitt, Williamson, Mellish; Tinkler, Forbes, Olley (Hunter 90+2), White, Barrow ©; Rigg, Thomson (Salkeld 80)
Subs not used: Lumsden, O’Donnell, Maloney
Goals: Thomson (63), Salkeld (85)
Bookings: Barrow (83)
Referee: Lloyd Wood
Attendance: 1,885 (20 Gateshead)
MOTM: Scott Barrow