By Liam Carson
The Heed returned to winning ways as they beat National League strugglers Guiseley 1-0 on a bitterly cold Tuesday night at Nethermoor Park.
Gateshead’s Wes York grabbed the only goal of the game within the first five minutes, as Steve Watson continued his impressive way record as manager.
Watson has only lost one game away from home in his tenure at the Heed, that being his first game back in October, a 3-2 defeat away to Eastleigh.
Steve Watson was forced into giving the Gateshead defence a make-over, as injuries to captain Neill Byrne and Fraser Kerr in Saturdays 2-1 defeat to AFC Fylde, meant Theo Vassell and Jordan Preston were restored to the starting XI.
The Heed aimed to make amends for the weekend’s defeat immediately and Watson’s side made the perfect start, as Wes York opened the scoring in the 5th minute, with his 4th goal of the season.
The winger was played in by a brilliant volleyed pass from Scott Barrow before he beat his man with ease. York then remained composed in the box as he slotted the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
It was the start the Heed needed but the Tynesiders found themselves under immediate pressure from Guiseley, as the home side looked for an instant response.
The remodelled Gateshead defence however, stood firm against a flurry of corners and even pushed on the counter-attack.
Jordan Preston in particular, on his return to the starting line-up, was already demonstrating that he was keen to put Steve Watson’s side further in front.
The midfielder created a great chance for himself as well, just after the 10th minute.
Preston, worming in and out of bodies in the Lions’ defence, managed to find space just outside the box to shoot but his curling effort sailed straight into Luke Coddington’s grateful hands.
Moments later, the 22-year-old had another opportunity but after turning his man outside the box, the former Guiseley man could only fire the ball high over the crossbar.
The Lions’ best chance of the half fell to winger Liam Hughes.
Adam Crookes picked the ball up on the left wing before serving a teasing cross into the box. The ball found Hughes who rose highest, but the midfielder’s header was saved comfortably by James Montgomery.
It was the Heed though, who ended the half strongest and the away side should have doubled their lead, four minutes before the break.
Preston again was at the thick of the action as he turned his man again outside the box.
The midfielder, in space, whipped in a cross which, after being blocked, fell to the feet of the on-the-night captain, Paddy McLaughlin. The Irishman had the goal at his mercy but, while under pressure, could not keep his fierce rising effort on target.
Guiseley started the second period with a renewed aggression and determination. A renewed spirit that almost saw them level within the first minute of the restart.
Striker Rowan Liburd was sent through on goal in a similar vein to what led to the Heed’s opener however, a great block from Scott Barrow maintained the Heed’s lead.
Moments later the Lions were at it again, as a surging run and shot from Dayle Southwell brought a smart save from James Montgomery.
Wes York won a superb header that set Jordan Preston away. The midfielder the sprayed the ball to McLaughlin who powered down the wing and into the box. McLaughlin drilled the ball across the box, picking out Richard Peniket. The striker’s first time effort was saved excellently by Coddington.
There was then a contentious moment as The Heed thought they had doubled their lead.
McLaughlin’s crossed picked out Jordan Burrow in the box and the striker rose and headed the ball towards goal, but Coddington parried it onto the post. Burrow however, immediately turned to celebrate with Ben Fox, suggesting the ball had crossed the line. The officials however, dismissed the claim and allowed play to continue.
The second-half was really beginning to hot-up in the sub-zero temperatures in West Yorkshire, as both sides were having plenty of efforts as the game drew to a close.
The home side should have been level through substitute Mike Fondop just inside the last ten minutes. Callum McFadzean had done well to get in a drilled cross, picking out the unmarked Fondop. The striker connected immediately, but he was denied by a superb save from Montgomery.
The Heed then turned on the pressure as they looked to kill off the game late on.
Opportunities fell for both Peniket and Theo Vassell but neither could extend the Heed’s advantage.
Callum Williams firstly had done well to beat his man down the right wing before he drilled a ball towards Peniket. The striker got just enough of the touch to get his effort on target, but Coddington again saved expertly.
Theo Vassell then had the ball in the back of the net but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Guiseley: Coddington; Palmer, Nirennold, Crookes, Flowers; McFadzean Hughes (Hatfield 87’), Lenighan (Odejayi 77’), Harvey (c); Liburd, Southwell (Fondop 58’).
Subs not used: Purver, Holden.
Bookings: Fondop (90’)
Gateshead (3-5-2): Montgomery; Vassell, Barrow, Fyfield; York (Williams 75’), Fox, Penn, Preston, McLaughlin; Peniket, Burrow.
Subs not used: Hanford, Greenwood, Johnson, McNall,
Goals: York 5’
Referee: Mr Peter Wright
Attendance: 641 (72 Gateshead)
MOTM: Jamal Fyfield