By Dominic Scurr
GATESHEAD made it back-to-back National League victories after coming from behind to beat Chester 2-1 at the Deva Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from strikers Danny Johnson and Jordan Burrow cancelled out Blaine Hudson’s first half opener for the hosts.
Johnson and Burrow were both on target in the 3-0 win against Southport last weekend and they were at it again in front of the BT Sport cameras to help Gateshead rise temporarily to seventh in the table.
But the game didn’t get off to the best of starts for Neil Aspin’s men as they found themselves on the back foot as Chester put them under pressure early on.
Inside the opening two minutes Elliott Durrell pounced on a shot kick-out by Tynesiders’ stopper James Montgomery only to see his effort well blocked by Manny Smith on the edge-of-the-box.
Smith was then caught out himself as the centre-back’s pass was cut-out by Evan Horwood who played in Tom Shaw for Chester but the eventual effort from the left failed to test Montgomery.
At the other end Gateshead soon mustered up their first half-chance of the game as Wes York had a dipping shot from range that was comfortably caught by Blues’ keeper Liam Roberts.
It was around the 20 minute mark where Gateshead finally started to get themselves into the game as Burrow’s nod down to Johnson almost opened the scoring but the Heed number 9 couldn’t quite keep his shot down.
Shortly after Burrow had a chance of his own as he controlled the ball inside the Chester box before turning and firing just over and wide of the left-hand post.
But the hosts responded well and looked instantly more threatening as they soon opened the scoring.
Evan Horwood’s corner failed to be cleared by Gateshead as the ball eventually fell nicely to Hudson who fired past Montgomery from close range.
It was a disappointing goal to concede from a Heed point of view but arguably a deserved one in the eyes of Chester followers.
However, that leaded lasted less than five minutes as Johnson picked the ball up midway through the Chester half before wrong-footing a defender and waltzing his way into the box before powering the ball into the back of the net.
The quick response was just what Gateshead needed as they ended the first half strongly as the sides went in at 1-1.
After a fairly uneventful opening 10 minutes of the second half, Wes York – in a more advanced position than in recent matches – started to cause the Chester back-line some trouble as he poked the ball over Hudson before lashing a dangerous ball across the box which was cut-out.
As the hour mark approached, the in-form forward James Alabi got the better of Hogan down the right side of the penalty area and attempted to curl the ball ambitiously into the top left corner from a tight angle – a good effort which sailed narrowly wide.
And just a few minutes later Gateshead would go ahead for the first time as Fyfield’s long ball forward was unintentionally shouldered into the path of Burrow by Horwood and the Heed striker capitalised with lethal conviction as he laced the ball into the centre of the goal.
It’s Burrow’s sixth goal since making his Heed debut in early December and his first away from the International Stadium.
Now Gateshead had the lead they could afford to sit back slightly and play Chester on the counter with the pace of York and Johnson on either flank proving effective.
York burst down the left once again as the visitors had a chance to put the game to bed inside the final 15 minutes but once again the wideman’s cross was well dealt with by the Chester defence.
Johnson then had a chance to grab his second of the match as he peeled away from his marker before hitting a well-struck effort straight at Roberts as the score remained 2-1 going into the closing stages.
Gateshead’s opening goalscorer was then replaced by new loan signing Tom Beere who was tasked with helping his new teammates see out the victory.
And after keeping the ball near the corner for a large portion of the four minutes of additional time, the Tynesiders were in for a late scare as they gave away possession, allowing Chester to break and earn themselves a last minute corner. The ball into the box sailed over Montgomery and was controlled by Kane Richards, who could only shoot into the side netting from the left side of the six-yard box.
But the referee soon blew for full-time as Gateshead picked up their fourth league win in six matches.
They now go into next Saturday’s match at home to promotion challengers Forest Green Rovers in good spirits as they look to keep their improving run of form going.
Chester (4-5-1): Roberts; Vassell (Lloyd 26), Hudson, Astles, Horwood (Richards 68); Joyce, George, Hughes, Shaw, Durrell; Alabi
Unused Subs: Lynch, Chapell, Killock
Gateshead (3-4-3): Montgomery; M. Smith, Hogan, Fyfield; Bolton, Mafuta, McLaughlin, G. Smith; Johnson (Beere 88), Burrow, York
Unused Subs: Hanford, Brundle, Bell, Hannant
Goals: Johnson (36), Burrow (63)
Referee: Joseph Johnson
Bookings: Chester – none; Gateshead – M. Smith, Mafuta, Montgomery
Attendance: 2095 (59 Gateshead)