By Jack McGraghan
Gateshead were held to a goalless draw by Havant & Waterlooville at the International Stadium on Saturday to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.
The Heed had Aynsley Pears to thank for keeping the game goalless with two fine saves either side of half-time, while Connor Thomson and Steve Rigg came closest to finding the net for Ben Clark’s side.
Clark was forced into one change from last weekend’s win at Dover with Mike Williamson withdrawing due to illness and being replaced by Tom Devitt.
The Hawks were presented with the first opportunity of the afternoon within five minutes as Rory Williams’ cross was flicked on by Wesley Fogden at the near-post, but fortunately for the Heed there were no takers at the back-post.
Gateshead grew into proceedings from that point onwards with Greg Olley seeing an effort saved by Ben Dudzinski 20 minutes in, moments before the midfielder’s flick allowed Thomson to play across the face of goal with his ball needing only a touch to send it goalwards.
Robbie Tinkler was next to try his luck as he dummied a defender before curling a 20-yarder which needed to be parried wide by Dudzinski, while Rigg saw a header float wide after 38 minutes from an Olley cross.
Despite the Heed having the majority of chances on goal, the biggest chance of the half fell to Havant & Waterlooville in added time.
The ball fell to Fogden at the back post following a scramble in the centre of the penalty area, but Aynsley Pears rushed out swiftly to close off the angles and block the forward’s goal-bound strike.
Pears came to Gateshead’s rescue once again nine minutes into the second half as he rushed out to block Joe Quigley’s shot at the near-post after the forward was fed through by Matt Paterson.
The Heed saw their best chance of the afternoon thus far on 69 minutes when Thomson received Rigg’s pass in behind the Hawks’ defence and poked inches wide of the far post with Dudzinski rushing out.
The hosts came even closer to finding the net with just over 10 minutes remaining as Scott Barrow and Jon Mellish linked up on the left-hand side before the latter’s low cross was narrowly missed by the sliding Rigg in the six-yard box.
Gateshead were on the front foot as the game edged towards its final minutes, and Thomson was the next man to see a chance go begging as he hit Olley’s cross wide with a first-time effort.
The Heed continued to draw closer to goal with the clock running down and with two minutes to go Thomson saw two crosses into the six-yard box clawed away from danger by Dudzisnki with Rigg lurking.
Despite late pressure however, it proved a step too far and the two sides were forced to settle for a point each with the game ending goalless.
Gateshead (3-5-2): Pears; Kerr, Mellish, Devitt; Tinkler, White, Forbes, Olley, Barrow (c); Thomson, Rigg.
Subs not used: Foden, Hunter, Salkeld, Maloney, McGeoch.
Bookings: Mellish (41’), Tinkler (51’)
Havant & Waterlooville (4-3-1-2): Dudzinski; Williams (c), Fogden, Lewis (Jalloh, 15’), Paterson (Rutherford, 76’), Quigley, Robinson, Rose, James (Strugnell, 71’), Cordner, Paul.
Subs not used: Woodford, Sekajja, Rutherford.
Bookings: James (22’), Fogden (45’)
Referee: Simeon Lucas
Attendance: 531 (56 Havant & Waterlooville)
MOTM: Aynsley Pears