By Jack McGraghan
Jordan Burrow’s brace on his return to Halifax Town wasn’t enough to secure three points for Gateshead on a night of late drama at the MBi Shay Stadium.
Former Halifax Town forward Jordan Burrow came back to haunt his old club on 38 minutes as he prodded home from close range to put the Heed ahead.
The lead didn’t last for as long as the visitors would have liked however as Mike Fondop-Talom’s fifth goal in nine drew the Shaymen level three minutes after half-time.
Burrow popped up once again in the 90th minute as he converted following a goalmouth scramble to notch his 13th goal of the season before Matty Kosylo’s last-gasp free-kick earned Halifax a point at the death.
Steve Watson made two changes from Tuesday’s defeat at Tranmere with Fraser Kerr and Danny Johnson both returning to the squad in place of Kieran Green and Theo Vassell, while Russell Penn made his 500th career appearance.
The Heed started quick out of the blocks and could have found themselves in the lead after 6 minutes when Burrow sent Richard Peniket through only for Josh Wilde to clear his effort off the line with keeper Sam Johnson stranded.
Gateshead looked to make the most of the well-worn turf at the MBi Shay Stadium, with Wes York’s pace a constant threat down the right-wing as he cut inside and fired straight down the throat of Johnson midway through the half.
It was anything but a one-sided affair however and the Shaymen had chances of their own – most notably when Ben Tomlinson’s cross-field ball found Connor Thomson on the far-left only for the latter to blaze over at the near post.
Seven minutes before half-time was the moment for Gateshead to take the initiative – and who else would it be but ex-Halifax striker Burrow to strike on his return to the MBi Shay Stadium.
Scott Barrow’s deep free-kick was nodded back into the centre of the box by Jamal Fyfield, where Burrow prodded towards goal before finishing the job from a yard out to open the Heed’s account for the evening.
Unfortunately for Gateshead their lead was cancelled out three minutes after the break as Michael Collins’ cross from the right was met by Fondop-Talom, who headed past James Montgomery and into the far corner to equalise.
The leveller handed the hosts the momentum and they began to mount pressure on Montgomery’s goal with the Heed keeper forced into a reaction stop from Michael Collins’ 20-yard drive.
Halifax continued to pin the Heed into their own half and Montgomery was called into action twice more to keep out Thomson and Fondop-Talom’s efforts from the edge of the area.
McLaughlin orchestrated two opportunities midway through the second period, first a corner which Kerr headed just wide before then sending Johnson through on goal only to be denied by his namesake in the Halifax goal.
The Shaymen should have gone ahead on 78 minutes when the ball fell to the unmarked Thomson at the back post – but to Gateshead’s relief the winger side-footed over the bar from close-range.
The hosts had another golden chance to go in front moments later as they countered at speed with Fondop-Talom finding Tomlinson free at the back post, but Montgomery did well to rush out and block the shot from six yards out.
Gateshead came within inches of netting a second themselves with two minutes to go as McLaughlin played a one-two with Burrow before firing into the side netting from 18 yards.
Despite the game being in its dying moments, there was still time for another twist in the tale as Burrow netted his second of the evening to seemingly hand the Heed all three points.
A goalmouth scramble involving Danny and Sam Johnson sent the ball to Kieran Green and the midfielder laid Burrow off for the striker to finish into an empty net from close-range.
There was still time for late heartbreak for Gateshead however as substitute Kosylo fired a 25-yard free-kick into the bottom corner of Montgomery’s net to snatch a point for the hosts.
FC Halifax Town (4-2-3-1): Johnson; Wilde (Hanley, 77’), Duckworth, Graham, Collins; Hotte, Maher; Tomlinson, Thomson, Hibbs (Kosylo, 74’); Fondop-Talom.
Subs not used: Nicholson, McManus, Oliver.
Goals: Fondop-Talom (48’), Kosylo (90+6’)
Bookings: Collins (39’), Hanley (80’), Fondop-Talom (90+3’)
Gateshead (4-3-3): Montgomery; Fyfield, Kerr, Byrne (c) (Vassell, 59’); York (Preston, 69’), McLaughlin, Penn, Barrow; Peniket (Green, 75’), Burrow, Johnson.
Subs not used: Hanford, Greenwood.
Goals: Burrow (38’, 90’)
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Attendance: 1302 (27 Gateshead)
MOTM: Jordan Burrow