By Liam Carson
The Heed finished off their 2017/18 campaign with a frustrating 3-1 defeat to Leyton Orient at the International Stadium.
Not much was riding on the game for either side, other than who would finish 13th in this National League season. It was Orient who won that fight as goals from Macauley Bonne, Jobi McAnuff and Josh Koroma sealed the honour for Justin Edinburgh’s side. Danny Johnson grabbed a late consolation from the spot, marking his 20th goal of the season.
Steve Watson made three changes to the side that were defeated in midweek by Ebbsfleet United as Dan Hanford, Neill Byrne and Jamal Fyfield came in for James Montgomery, Jon Mellish and Theo Vassell.
Hanford was only making his second start for the Heed since January but it was clear the Welshman’s lack of starts hadn’t caused him any rustiness.
In the opening few minutes Hanford demonstrated that his reflexes were as sharp as ever as he thwarted a determined looking Orient side.
Josh Koroma had cut inside from left-wing and had cracked a fierce effort which beat Hanford but couldn’t beat the post. After rebounding off the woodwork Macauley Bonne smashed the ball towards goal but his effort was thwarted by Welshman Hanford who reacted immediately to tip the shot over the bar.
Orient took the lead not long after however, as Macauley Bonne rose highest to nod in Job McAnuff’s corner on the 18th minute, as they affirmed their control of the game.
Gateshead were pressing hard for an equaliser as the first-half reached its midpoint with Danny Johnson looking hungry to extend his recent good form in front of goal.
The Heed’ s best opportunity however, fell to Jordan Preston who rattled a curling effort towards the top right-hand corner but Dean Brill demonstrated his reach as he tipped the ball over the bar.
Steve Watson’s side were certainly growing into the game as the half waned on but they were struggling to find their shooting boots as Orient defended resolutely.
The away side could have extended their lead with five minutes left till half-time but a superb last-ditch block from Fraser Kerr kept the deficit to just one.
Just minutes into the second-half however, orient’s advantage was doubled.
David Mooney had time and space to pick out McAnuff on the edge of the box before the on-running winger rifled the ball into the top corner.
The day got worse for the Heed just before the hour mark as Justin Edinburgh’s side extended their lead through Josh Koroma.
The winger, like McAnuff, found space on the edge of the box before slotting the ball past Hanford, as it crept into the corner of the net.
The Heed could have found themselves back in the game through substitute Macauley Langstaff but the striker was thwarted by superb defending from Orient. The youngster was released down the wing and cut inside his man before unleashing a strong effort towards the back post. His effort beat brill in goal but Sam Ling reacted quickly to get back and clear the ball off the line.
Good chances then fell to Danny Johnson and Jordan Preston but neither could find their way past Dean Brill, as the stopper looked to keep his sheet clean.
The Heed however, were awarded a penalty with just a minute to go on the clock as Ebou Adams fouled substitute Rees Greenwood just inside the Orient box.
In form Danny Johnson stepped up to grab the Heed a consolation. It marked his fourth goal in three games and his 20th of the season.
Gateshead (4-3-3): Hanford; Kerr, Byrne (c), Fyfield (Vassell 35′), Barrow; Penn (Greenwood 76′), Preston, McLaughlin; Johnson, Burrow, Peniket (Langstaff 61′).
Subs not used: Montgomery, Green.
Bookings: Burrow (90+1′)
Goals: Johnson (90′)
Leyton Orient(4-4-2): Brill; Judo, Expiteta, Happe, Ling; McAnuff, Adams, Lee (Clayden 62′) Koroma; Mooney, Bonne.
Subs not used: Grainger, Widdowson, Clay, Reynolds.
Goals: Bonne (18′), McAnuff (53′), Koroma (60′)
Bookings: Adams (45′)
Referee: Paul Marsden
Attendance: 1,056 (Leyton Orient 424)
MOTM: Danny Johnson