By Jack McGraghan
Gateshead came from behind for the second time in a week at the International Stadium to earn a third consecutive win thanks to Luke Armstrong’s late strike.
The visitors took the lead midway through the first half through Jamie Allen’s close-range flick before Robbie Tinkler’s first Gateshead goal levelled the scores heading into the break.
Armstrong’s fourth goal of the season on 87 minutes sealed a late win to ensure the Heed retained their 100% record over the first three games of the season.
Steve Watson made one change to the side that ran out 2-1 winners over Salford City in midweek, bringing in new signing Mike Williamson for his competitive debut in place of JJ O’Donnell.
Early signs hinted at a more subdued affair following the excitement of Tuesday night’s victory, with both sides struggling to break through the defensive line from open play.
Armstrong earned the Heed’s first sight of goal of the afternoon after 13 minutes as he fired a few yards wide from the edge of the area after stealing possession from Dover captain Mitch Brundle.
It was Dover who found the net first 26 minutes in however, as Brundle’s corner was powerfully headed towards goal by Connor Essam where Jamie Allen lay in wait to flick home.
The goal proved to be the catalyst for Gateshead, who responded with a flurry of set-piece chances – one of which leading to an equaliser 10 minutes before the break.
Greg Olley – the architect of most attacking moves for the Heed in the first half – floated a corner towards Tinkler in the centre and the captain’s header proved too hot to handle for Jack Connors, who could only divert in off the bar in his attempt to clear.
Another Olley corner just two minutes later caused havoc in the Dover box, this time it was Williamson on the end of it with his header looping onto the top of the crossbar and over.
The second period began much like the first with both sides looking to establish some semblance of control over proceedings, with the first opportunity this time falling Dover’s way when Inih Effiong diverted Connors’ cross wide of the far post on the hour mark.
At the other end, Tom White shifted the ball into space and opted for a 25-yard strike at goal but his effort rolled comfortably wide of the mark with Mitch Walker unfazed in the Dover goal.
Gateshead and Dover both made changes in the game’s late stages in an attempt to find the elusive winning goal, with Steve Rigg making his Heed debut with eight minutes to go as Watson exhausted his attacking options.
The changes paid dividends for the hosts with three minutes to go as Rigg’s initial shot deflected into the path of Armstrong, who turned and fired low past Walker to send the home crowd into raptures and ensure another three points.
Gateshead (3-5-2): Pears; Williamson, Kerr, Tinkler (c); Salkeld, Hunter, Olley, White (Rigg, 82’), Mellish (O’Donnell, 70’); Armstrong, Boden.
Subs not used: Foden, Forbes, Devitt.
Goals: Tinkler (35’), Armstrong (87’)
Dover Athletic (4-4-2): Walker; Passley, Connors, Lokko, Essam, Brundle (c), Allen (Jeffrey, 82’), Effiong (Daniel, 73’), Nortey (Okosieme, 80’), Schmoll, Gomis.
Subs not used: Diarra, Fazakerley.
Goals: Allen (26’)
Referee: Gareth Rhodes
Attendance: 693 (31 Dover)
MOTM: Robbie Tinkler