By Dominic Scurr
GATESHEAD’S Remembrance Day match at Maidenhead was certainly not one to forget as they secured a 3-0 win at York Road.
A Luke Hannant brace and a second in as many games from Danny Johnson saw the Heed to a convincing victory on their maiden trip to Maidenhead.
It was a match where the Heed raced out the blocks as the ball deflected off JJ O’Donnell’s heel and into the path of Hannant who slotted the ball calmly across the keeper and into the bottom right corner from just inside the box.
And inside eight minutes they were two up as O’Donnell’s short corner fell to Scott Barrow who cannoned the ball off the crossbar from 25-yards, allowing Johnson to poke home from close range.
The Heed could have been three up after 15-minutes as Johnson’s shot on the turn from 25-yards came close to finding the top left corner of the goal.
It was a fantastic start by the visitors as they were at Maidenhead from the start, forcing them into conceding possession as they remained a consistent threat going forward.
Barrow was next to come close as his low 25-yard free-kick snuck past the wall but into the right side netting.
It was midway through the first half when Maidenhead created their first decent chance of the game as Harry Pritchard’s looping header sailed over the Gateshead crossbar.
The momentum started to swing in Maidenhead’s favour slightly approaching half-time and Russell Penn was in the right place at the right time to prevent them from pulling a goal back and clear Pritchard’s far post volley off the line.
Still, it was Gateshead who should have gone in at the break having extended their advantage further. James Comley’s short free-kick fell right at Johnson’s feet and the Heed forward burst down the right flank, from box to box, before playing a low ball across goal to an unmarked O’Donnell who somehow turned the ball over the bar from five yards.
The Heed were good value for their 2-0 lead at half-time but may have been slightly frustrated not to have been more goals ahead.
After opening the scoring five minutes into the first half, Hannant did the same again in the second as another fortuitous O’Donnell assist fell nicely at his feet to slot home his second of the match.
Shortly after O’Donnell came close to making it four as he worked his way into the box from the left and drilled an angled shot past the right post.
At the other end, a fine headed clearance from Fraser Kerr prevented Harold Odametey from pulling a goal back for the hosts.
And they would have soon after if it wasn’t for a great stop by Dan Hanford down to his right to deny Adrian Clifton
Great stop by Hanford down to his right to deny Clifton from 8-yards after some good work by Hyde down the right. 0-3
Hanford was called into action less than a minute later with a fine reaction save to deny Ryan Upward’s improvised volley at the back post as Maidenhead started to push for a consolation.
But as The Magpies started to threaten at one end, Gateshead did the same at the other as substitute Jordan Preston saw his shot on the turn go narrowly wide of the left post after Robbie Tinkler fed him the ball.
Preston then had two good chances in two minutes as a neat exchange with Richard Peniket saw him force a clever stop from Pentney before once again coming close with a well-hit shot which fell wide of the bottom left corner.
As the game drew to a close, Hanford and the Heed’s clean sheet remained under threat but the Gateshead stopper seemed determined to keep Maidenhead at bay as he stood tall to block Jake Hyde’s effort from eight yards.
Peniket then saw his angled strike tipped onto the crossbar by Pentney in what proved to be the last real chance of the match as the referee blew for full-time soon after.
And after failing to win away from home prior to Steve Watson’s arrival, the Tynesider’s have now won three of their last four on their travels and have kept four consecutive clean sheets.
The victory also takes Gateshead up to 14th in the National League table – five points off the play-off places and 11 points shy of league leaders Dover.
Maidenhead United: Pentney; Steer, Odametey, Massey (c), Emmanuel (Hyde 57), Comley (Smith 46), Pritchard, Clifton, Upward (Mulley 75), Peters, Goodman
Subs not used: Barratt, Kilman
Gateshead (4-3-3): Hanford; Tinkler, Kerr, Byrne (c), Barrow; Penn (McLaughlin 65), Maxwell, Hannant; Johnson, Burrow (Peniket 75), O’Donnell (Preston 62)
Subs not used: Montomgery (GK), York
Goals: Hannant (5, 50); Johnson (8)
Bookings: Maxwell (13), Burrow (60)
Referee: Samuel Allison
Attendance: 1377 (117 Gateshead)