By Rory Drake
A late goal from substitute Aaron Williams helped Harrogate Town to victory in a pulsating game at the International Stadium.
Dominic Knowles put Harrogate in front from the spot midway through the first half, but Fraser Kerr brought Gateshead level before half time.
Steve Rigg put the Heed in front early in the second half, but Jack Muldoon levelled almost immediately for the visitors. Williams scored late on to restore Harrogate’s lead and see the visitors take the three points.
Gateshead came into the game looking to build on Saturday’s win over Maidstone and started brightly with Rigg cut in from the right-hand side to find Scott Boden, but Harrogate’s defence were alert to sniff out the chance.
Harrogate then came close at the other end with Joe Leesley’s dipping effort from 25-yards needing Aynsley Pears to tip it over
The game was very end to end in the opening stages, Greg Olley nearly put the Heed in front on 12 minutes when his freekick was flicked onto the bar by Liam Agnew.
Jon Mellish then cut the ball back to Boden in the box, but his effort was weak and easy for James Belshaw. Rigg then came close again, heading just over the bar from a corner.
Harrogate were handed the chance to go ahead from the spot after 22 minutes when Tom White brought down George Thomson in the box. Dominic Knowles stepped up and sent Pears the wrong way to give the visitors the lead.
The pace of the game slowed down a little after the goal, but with the next chance Gateshead were level, Olley’s corner was at a perfect height for Kerr, who powered home a bullet header to restore parity.
Gateshead started the second half on top and were in front in the 52nd minute when Rigg thumped in a header from Boden’s curling cross-cum-shot.
Harrogate levelled almost immediately, the visitors got forward in numbers and Gateshead failed to challenge Lloyd Kerry who found Muldoon who worked space and fired a shot into the bottom corner.
Muldoon then came close to putting Harrogate back in front but overran the ball and with the angle against him, fired high and wide.
Neither team looked content with a point and with 20 minutes to go Gateshead came within inches of taking the lead. Robbie Tinkler’s cross from the right was met by a diving header from Olley, which went just the wrong side of Belshaw’s post.
Moments later, Harrogate came close when Leesley burst into the box, but his angled strike was turned into the side netting by Pears.
In the dying moments, Harrogate restored their lead. Substitute Williams had been on the pitch less than three when he stabbed home from close range from Warren Burrell’s shot.
Gateshead XI: Pears; Tinkler ©, Kerr, Devitt, Mellish; Salkeld (Thomson 33’), Forbes, White, Olley; Rigg, Boden
Subs not used: Foden, Barrow, Hunter, Maloney
Goals: Kerr (35), Rigg (52)
Bookings: Kerr (87)
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Howe, Burrell ©, Thomson (Beck 57’), Knowles (Williams 83’), Leesley, Agnew (Sutton 83’), Langmead, Kerry, Muldoon, Kitching
Subs not used: Parker, Beck, Cracknell
Goals: Knowles (23)
Bookings: Knowles (51), Muldoon (56), Williams (85)
Referee: James Oldham
Attendance: 846 (149 Harrogate)
MOTM: Steve Rigg