Gateshead fell to a 3-1 defeat against Championship side Middlesbrough in their first pre-season outing at the International Stadium.
Jonny Howson put the visitors ahead two minutes before the break, slotting into an empty net from 25 yards after Nicholson’s clearance.
Connor Thomson then pulled Gateshead level from the penalty spot three minutes after half-time before goals from Ashley Fletcher and Marvin Johnson ensured the Heed fell to a narrow defeat in their pre-season opener.
The half began with a chance for the Heed, as JJ O’Donnell saw Darren Randolph off his line and tried his luck from the halfway line – but his shot floated just over the crossbar.
Not much in the way of chances fell either way for the next half an hour, with the two sides playing out a typical pre-season affair as possession largely remained locked in midfield.
Connor Oliver was the next man to try his luck for the hosts just after the half-hour mark as his 25-yard volley landed on the roof of the net with Randolph scrambling back.
Middlesbrough came close on a couple of occasions close to the half-time whistle, with Ashley Fletcher inches away from connecting with Marcus Tavernier’s ball across the face of goal on 32 minutes.
O’Donnell and Thomson linked up on the edge of the area moments later for Gateshead, with the former’s shot clearing the crossbar after a neat one-two.
Scott Barrow forced Randolph into action a minute later after being played in by Greg Olley, placing the ball down the throat of the Boro goalkeeper at the near-post as he parried away from goal.
The visitors had the ball in the net for the first time after 41 minutes via Fletcher, but his strike was quickly cancelled out by the offside flag after he prodded home Stephen Wearn’s rebound from close range.
The Championship outfit did get themselves on the scoresheet just two minutes before half-time however through Howson, who slotted Nicholson’s clearance into an empty net with the Heed goalkeeper stranded in the penalty area.
Moments after the break however, the Heed got themselves on level terms from the penalty spot, with the referee awarding a spot-kick after a melee in the area from a corner.
Thomson stepped up and showed composure to send the goalkeeper the wrong way, drawing the hosts level.
The Teessiders retook the lead with just under 25 minutes remaining after a largely quiet second half when Fletcher latched onto Adam Clayton’s long ball forward before slotting into the far corner.
Gateshead came close to restoring parity through one of many trialists as the clock ticked down, with a marauding run down the right finished with a shot that just glanced wide of the far post.
The Heed’s trialist ‘keeper was called into action with eight minutes remaining, producing a fantastic save from close range when it looked for all the world as if Rudy Gestede was going to add a third.
Johnson would add a third for Boro three minutes before the full-time whistle however, sending a 25-yard strike crashing into the back of the net via the post.
Gateshead XI: Trialist; Nicholson (Trialist, 63’), Williamson (Trialist, 53’), Lees (Trialist, 45’), Barrow (Trialist, 63’); Thomson (Trialist, 63’), Olley (Trialist, 51’), Oliver (Forbes, 45’), Agnew (Trialist, 63’), O’Donnell (Trialist, 45’); Preston (Trialist, 24’).
Unused subs: none
Goals: Thomson (48’, pen)
Middlesbrough XI: Randolph (James, 45’), Howson (Spence, 45’), Reading (Dale, 72’), Flint (Wood, 72’), Shotton (Stubbs, 72’), Wing (Clayton, 60’), Wearn (Malley, 64’), McNair (Saville, 45’), Fletcher (Gestede, 72’), Tavernier (Armstrong, 64’), Coulson (Johnson, 45’).
Unused subs: none
Goals: Howson (43’), Fletcher (66’), Johnson (87′)
Referee: James Westgate