By Jack McGraghan
Steve Watson’s first home win as Gateshead boss sent his side through to the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.
First-half goals from Jordan Burrow and Danny Johnson downed Chelmsford to ensure safe passage to the next round for the Heed.
Steve Watson made four changes from the goalless draw against Dover Athletic as James Montgomery, Russell Penn, York and Johnson replaced Dan Hanford, JJ O’Donnell, Luke Maxwell and Jordan Preston.
Rod Stringer made a triple change following Chelmsford’s 3-2 defeat at Chippenham Town with Max Porter, Lee Barnard and Matt Johnson coming in for Chris Assombalonga, Mike West and Scott Davies.
The Heed had the better of the chances in the opening 20 minutes in, as captain Neill Byrne nodded the ball down to Jordan Burrow who fired over the bar.
Byrne should have put his side in front midway through the half as he put the ball over the bar from six yards after Russell Penn’s shot was parried into his path by Chelmsford keeper Samuel Beasant.
The Clarets failed to test Montgomery in the first-half despite forcing Gateshead’s defence into giving up possession cheaply on multiple occasions.
Their best chance came when Matt Johnson’s shot was blocked by Byrne following a scramble in the box caused by Daniel Green’s long throw.
The Heed got their opening goal on half-an-hour through Burrow’s fourth goal in his last four starts, as the striker headed York’s cross into the bottom corner of Beasant’s net.
Gateshead wasted no time in doubling their advantage, as Johnson turned and struck in off the post from 20 yards for his fifth of the season on his return to the side.
Chris Dickson had the Clarets’ best chance of the half just before the break as his first touch beat Callum Williams, only for the striker to fire well wide from just inside the box.
The visitors pressed for an equaliser in the second half and came close 60 minutes in, centre-back Michael Spillane turning inside the box before firing inches wide of the far post.
The second half was a much tighter affair as Gateshead dropped deeper to preserve the lead while the visitors had made all three substitutions with 25 minutes remaining in an attempt to salvage the game.
Johnson had the opportunity to make it three 84 minutes in as he latched on to Paddy McLaughlin’s pass but his shot only found the side netting.
It didn’t matter though as Gateshead saw the game off to ensure their place in the hat for the second round.
Gateshead (4-3-3): Montgomery; Williams (Vassell, 67′), Byrne (c), Kerr, Barrow; York (Preston, 62′), Hannant (Maxwell, 74′), Penn, McLaughlin; Johnson, Burrow.
Subs not used: Hanford (GK), Peniket, Tinkler, O’Donnell.
Goals: Burrow (30′), Johnson (34′)
Bookings: Williams (63′)
Chelmsford City (4-4-2): Beasant; Omozusi (c), Braham-Barrett, Porter, Spillane, Smith, Green, Stevenson (West, 46′), Barnard (Hitchcock, 65′), Dickson (Batt, 55′), Johnson.
Subs not used: Jessup (GK), Haines, Miller, Daley.
Bookings: Green (31′), Hitchcock (71′)
Referee: Peter Gibbons
Attendance: 732 (123 Chelmsford)