By Jack McGraghan
Gateshead fell to defeat at the International Stadium at the hands of free-scoring Fylde thanks to two first-half goals from Danny Rowe.
League top-scorer Rowe’s strikes in the 17th and 37th minute ensured the visitors took all three points despite Richard Peniket’s injury-time consolation goal.
Steve Watson made three changes following Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Maidstone United with Ben Fox and Jordan Burrow replacing Lewis McNall and Rees Greenwood, while Fraser Kerr suffered an injury in the warm up and was replaced by Callum Williams.
Fylde boss Dave Challinor made two alterations following his side’s 2-2 draw with Eastleigh as Jonny Smith and Callum Chettle made way for Sam Finley and Simon Grand in midfield.
The Coasters could have found themselves ahead after just four minutes through Rowe, who got on the end of Henry Jones’ low cross only for James Montgomery to keep his effort out.
Jack Muldoon was next to carve out a clear goal scoring opportunity for Fylde, latching on to Sam Finley’s ball in behind to race through on goal where Montgomery rushed out to block.
The visitors’ pressure paid off soon after however via a slice of good fortune as Muldoon’s right-sided cross was parried into Rowe by Montgomery before bobbling over the line.
It was a deserved opener for Fylde, but Gateshead grew into the game after going a goal down and began to create opportunities of their own.
Ben Fox came close with what would have been a magical strike, skipping past two defenders before seeing his 20-yard shot parried wide by Jay Lynch when it seemed destined for the top-right corner.
The midfielder saw Lynch deny him once again shortly after, parrying his 20-yard free-kick just around the post.
Unfortunately for the Heed, Fylde showed why they are the league’s top-scoring side 37 minutes in as they doubled their lead.
Andy Bond drove through the centre of the pitch and released Rowe down the right-hand side of the box where the striker beat Williams and lashed low past Montgomery.
The second goal left Gateshead with a tough task on their hands, although they continued to push for their first with Neill Byrne’s long ball finding Wes York who saw his near-post shot blocked by Lynch.
The second period became a more even affair with Fylde reluctant to push men forward in favour of preserving their lead, while the Heed threw on Lewis McNall and Jordan Preston as they searched for a way back into the game.
Montgomery prevented Fylde from netting a third with 20 minutes to go in spectacular style as he dived low to hold Jordan Tunnicliffe’s close-range header when he seemed certain to score.
Lynch continued to preserve his clean sheet going into the game’s latter stages as he saved well from York’s 15-yard strike after he was played through by Fox.
The visitors could have made it three late on as substitute Jonny Smith’s low cross came within inches of finding fellow substitute James Hardy at the back post for what would have been a tap-in.
The Heed netted a consolation goal with what was almost the last kick of the game as Jordan Preston’s corner was turned in by Peniket for his third in as many games, although it proved to be too late for a comeback.
Gateshead (4-4-2): Montgomery; Williams, Byrne (c) (Vassell, 46’), Fyfield, Barrow; York, McLaughlin, Penn (Preston, 68’), Fox; Peniket, Burrow (McNall, 63’).
Subs not used: Hanford (GK), Greenwood.
Goals: Peniket (90+4′)
Bookings: McLaughlin (37’), Fyfield (84’)
AFC Fylde (4-3-3): Lynch; Montrose, Francis-Angol, Tunnicliffe, Bond (c), Finley (Hardy, 81’), Grand, Burke, Jones (Taylor, 62’), Muldoon, Rowe (Smith, 77’).
Subs not used: Hardy, Smith, Chettle, Stubbs.
Goals: Rowe (17’, 37’)
Bookings: Finley (34’), Taylor (64’)
Referee: Peter Gibbons
Attendance: 725 (110 Fylde)