By Rory Drake
Goals from Jordan Thewlis and Mark Beck saw Gateshead’s play-off hopes ended at the hands of Harrogate Town.
Thewlis put Harrogate ahead at the end of what had been an even and largely uneventful first half.
Thewlis turned provider for Beck to double the hosts’ lead in the 55th minute, and Gateshead rarely troubled play-off bound Harrogate in the remaining 35 minutes.
The Heed came into the game knowing they needed to win if they were to have any hopes of extending the season, and Gateshead were the first to create an effort at goal.
Two minutes in Jon Mellish unleashed an effort from 25 yards, which James Belshaw did well to get behind.
Harrogate’s first effort came eight minutes in, when Lloyd Kerry tried his luck from 30 yards, but Aynsley Pears was alert and dealt with it.
Kerry again tried a long-range effort 17 minutes in, but with Pears again proving equal to it.
Midway through the half, Rigg weaved his way past two players and into the box, before going down under challenge a strong challenge, with the referee waving away Gateshead’s protests.
21 minutes in, Connor Thomson cut in from the left-hand side before firing an effort just wide of Belshaw’s near post.
Gateshead probably should have taken the lead 32 minutes in when Greg Olley found Rigg out wide, who crossed for an unmarked Jack Hunter, who headed just wide from close range.
Shortly before half time, Harrogate took the lead after Josh Falkingham played a long ball over the top, with Thewlis being adjudged onside before rounding the outrushing Pears and rolling into an empty net.
After a quiet start to the second half, Harrogate doubled their lead 10 minutes after the restart, with Thewlis riding a challenge from Tom Devitt, before putting it on a plate for Beck to tap home from a yard at the far post.
The hosts twice thought they’d extended their lead in the next five minutes with Thewlis and Michael Woods both beating Pears, but both were ruled out for offsides.
It took until just after the hour mark for Gateshead to create a first opening in the second half, but when it came, Rigg couldn’t find the target with a header from Scott Barrow’s cross.
Barrow was involved again five minutes later, cutting in from the left to shoot from outside the box, but the left back didn’t strike the ball cleanly and it was easy for Belshaw.
Moments later Greg Olley found himself in space just outside the area, Olley’s shot was more powerful than that of Barrow, but was straight at Belshaw.
With 20 minutes to play Gateshead came close again, this time with a long throw from Olley being flicked on by Rigg, with Belshaw, just managing to tip it over his bar.
With three minutes to play, George Thomson nearly extended Harrogate’s lead, firing a shot from the edge of the box that Pears spilt, but caught at the second attempt.
George Thomson then came close at the other end, heading a Robbie Tinkler cross towards his own goal, but Belshaw sprung up and saved his teammate the embarrassment.
The Heed were backed by an impressive 295 away following but they ultimately went home disappointed as the play-off dream ended at the penultimate game of a rollercoaster campaign.
Harrogate: Belshaw; Burrell, Howe, Kitching; Fallowfield (George Thomson 63’), Woods (Agnew 81’), Falkingham, Kerry, Senior; Beck, Thewlis (Muldoon 63’)
Unused subs: Cracknell, Knowles
Goals: Thewlis (41), Beck (55)
Bookings: Thewlis (47)
Gateshead: Pears; Devitt, Williamson, Mellish (O’Donnell 88’); Tinkler, Hunter (Maloney 76’), Olley, White, Barrow ©; Rigg, Connor Thomson (Salkeld 76’)
Unused subs: Foden, McGeoch
Referee: Simon Mather
Attendance: 1,629 (295 Gateshead)
MOTM: Steve Rigg