By Jack McGraghan
AN injury hit Gateshead side suffered their first home defeat in seven matches as third bottom Maidenhead United claimed a 1-0 victory at the International Stadium.
The Magpies put themselves in front after 29 minutes as Remy Clerima volleyed home to leave the Heed with an uphill task in the second half.
The hosts piled on the pressure in the second 45 and came close through Scott Boden, but were unable to overturn the deficit as Maidenhead held on.
Steve Watson made three changes to the side that slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Hartlepool on New Year’s Day with a mixture of injury problems and expiring loan deals leaving Gateshead short on numbers.
Aynsley Pears returned in place of Mark Foden while Elliot Forbes and Cameron Salkeld came in for JJ O’Donnell and Luke Molyneux after the former suffered an injury at Hartlepool, while the latter returned to parent club Sunderland earlier this week.
Maidenhead were the side applying most of the pressure in the early stages with Ryan Bird seeing the game’s first chance sail over the bar as he struck on the turn.
The visitors continued to cause problems out wide throughout the first half through Clerima, James Comley and Harold Odametey as the latter fired wide from 20 yards before moments later weaving his way past two defenders and sending a cross into Pears’ grasp.
With just under half an hour on the clock, Maidenhead found the breakthrough. Comley had the beating of Connor Thomson on the left-wing before crossing for Clerima at the back post, who sent a half-volley into the far corner of the net.
The Heed were restricted in terms of opportunities in the opening 45 but had their best chance immediately after conceding as Salkeld raced down the left before firing over at the near post.
Boden also saw a 15-yard strike from Robbie Tinkler’s short corner blocked by a crowd of bodies, but Gateshead went into the break in need of inspiration.
The second 45 began much like the first with Bird seeing an effort float over the bar, this time he headed over with Pears rushing out as he attempted to clear the danger.
The Heed had an opportunity of their own just before the hour mark as Tinkler’s blocked effort from a short free-kick found its way to Fraser Kerr – but his effort was sent straight into the arms of Carl Pentney.
The hosts were starting to grow into the game and looked more dangerous going forward as Boden saw two efforts claimed by Pentney inside the area moments apart.
Gateshead were left wondering how they hadn’t found a way back into the game with just over 10 minutes to go, as a succession of shots from Steve Rigg, Forbes and Boden inside the area were blocked by purple shirts.
Despite being on top during the second period however, the visitors held on for all three points to leave the Heed frustrated.
Gateshead (3-5-2): Pears; Kerr, Williamson, Tinkler (c); Thomson, Hunter, Forbes (McGeoch, 84’), Salkeld, Mellish; Boden, Rigg.
Subs not used: Foden, Devitt, Clark, Hayhurst.
Bookings: Rigg (57’), Williamson (72’)
Maidenhead United (3-5-2): Pentney; Clerima, Steer, Odametey, Obileye (Clifton, 89’), Kilgour, Comley, Bird (Upward, 85’), Nana-Twumasi, Akintunde (Kelly, 81’), Massey (c).
Subs not used: Alves, Peters.
Goals: Clerima (29’)
Bookings: Steer (63’), Akintunde (65’), Bird (74’)
Referee: David Richardson
Attendance: 581 (15 Maidenhead)