By Jordan Cronin
Gateshead were held to a 1-1 draw against National League North side Darlington at the International Stadium.
In their penultimate pre-season game, Gateshead were quick out the blocks at the Gateshead International Stadium as Jordan Preston gave his side an early lead.
The hosts were lacking any sort of intensity in the second-half as the Quakers found a deserved equaliser through David Syers to share the spoils.
After a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle XI on Saturday, The Heed were keen to put that defeat behind them with an energetic opening quarter of an hour.
Jon Mellish was the first to register an effort for Gateshead when he aimed his shot off the crossbar, four minutes in.
A minute later, Jordan Burrow then chipped an effort over Adam Bartlett’s goal.
The hosts’ fast start warranted a goal and that arrived on 10 minutes. Preston cut inside on the left and powered his shot into the bottom.
Preston was continuing to cause problems for the visitors when he produced a similar move to his first goal, though, this time lacked the finishing touch.
It took Darlington 29 minutes to register their first shot on target. Former Heed man Josh Gillies hit a powerful shot that required strong hands from goalkeeper James Montgomery to parry it away.
Seconds later, the visitors should have tested Montgomery again but Syers failed to divert a free-kick into the area on target.
Despite a quiet 20-minute period, Gateshead had late opportunities to double their lead before the break.
The best of those opportunities fell to Jordan Burrow when he forced a close-range save from Bartlett following good work for Preston on the right-hand side.
Gateshead struggled to get going throughout the whole of the second-half with balls into the area proving difficult to handle for the home side’s defence.
Just under 15 minutes later, another header in the Gateshead penalty area tickled wide when substitute Stephen Thompson met Christopher Hunter’s angled cross.
The Heed were under the cosh as a point blank save from Montgomery prevented Dominic Collins from equalising in the 67th minute.
Eventually Darlington’s directness did grant them a route to goal as Syers headed home unmarked from Hunter’s cross on 71 minutes.
The visitors remained on top until the final whistle as Joe Wheatley was smartly denied by Montgomery before minutes later striking the crossbar with a thunderous shot.
Youngster Macaulay Langstaff entered proceeding for the remaining six minutes and had time to test Bartlett from 25-yards out – stinging the palms of the former Gateshead keeper.
Next up for Gateshead is an away tie at Harrogate Town in their final pre-season game ahead of the new National League campaign.
Gateshead: Montgomery, Vassell (Horsfall 45), Green (Penn 45), Kerr, Byrne (Burns 84), Mellish, Tinkler (Langstaff 76), Johnson, Preston (Peniket 45), McLaughlin, Burrow
Darlington: Bartlett, Hunter (Mars), Ferguson, Richard (Thompson 45), Collins, Brown (Galbraith 45), Syers, Scott (Wheatley 45), Cartman (Saunders 66), Fenwick, Gillies (Mars 70)
Goals: Preston (10), Syers (71)
Referee: Seb Stockbridge