By Dominic Scurr
GATESHEAD failed to win for the first time this pre season as high flying South Shields held them to a 1-1 draw at Mariners Park on Saturday afternoon.
In a friendly match marred by fan disorder off the pitch, the Heed made a decent account of themselves on the pitch against a Shields side who had won 37 and drawn one of their previous 38 matches in all competitions.
Although the Tynesiders play three divisions higher on the pyramid than the Mariners, there was little to choose between the sides overall as former Gateshead goalscoring great Jon Shaw opened the scoring for the host in the opening stages before a stunning effort from Robbie Tinkler levelled things up in the second half.
South Shields’ goal was infact the first decent chance of the game as the home side came racing out the blocks against their local rivals with Shaw tapping a ball across the face of goal in from close range.
Given Shields’ remarkable run of form, there were expectations that they would prove to be the toughest test of pre-season so far for Neil Aspin’s men and that was proving to be the case as the hosts piled on the majority of the early pressure.
It took Gateshead almost 15 minutes to threaten for the first time as Wes York did well in the right corner before playing a dangerous ball across goal that was awkwardly but well cleared by Dillon Morse.
Danny Johnson, who made a goalscoring return to the side in Tuesday night’s win over Billingham Synthonia, almost got on the scoresheet yet again as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box only to drag his shot just wide of the right post.
After that, the any significant chances seemed to dry up until just before half-time as a intricate piece of play from the Mariners saw Alex Nicholson collect and waltz his way through the Heed defence before having his placed strike tipped wide by goalkeeper Dan Hanford.
A reasonably even first half was brought to an end soon after with Shields still good value for their lead.
Gateshead then started the second half the stronger of the two sides with Scott Barrow doing brilliantly to win possession back and work his way forward before eventually firing just wide of the bottom right corner of the goal from the edge of the area.
And just moments later the visitors would be level as a fine tackle in the middle of the park from Fraser Horsfall released Paddy McLaughlin who in turn played the ball to Tinkler who fired a ferocious 25-yard strike straight into the top right corner of the goal.
The equaliser was well deserved as Gateshead looked to take control of the game but the FA Vase winners were having none of it as they continued to suppress the away side’s attack. So much so that the Tynesiders final good chance of the game came with 23 minutes to play as Luke Hannant’s cross from the right was well met by Jordan Burrow but the striker couldn’t quite find the target with his head.
After that, substitute Louis Storey had a similar chance at the other end for the hosts but the score remained 1-1 going into the closing stages.
And in the final moments of the game South Shields created one last chance to grab a winner as Jordan Blinco did well to get a tight angled shot away from the right side of the box but his effort whistled just wide of James Montgomery’s goal.
Shortly after the full-time whistle blew to bring an end to the action on the pitch, with the final score 1-1.
Gateshead First Half: Hanford, Bolton, O’Donnell, Byrne, Vassell, Green, York, Penn, Johnson, Preston, Peniket
Gateshead Second Half: Montgomery; Tinkler, Bolton (Burns 69), Horsfall, Vassell, Fyfield, Barrow, McLaughlin, Hannant, Langstaff, Burrow
Goals: Shaw (3); Tinkler (59)
Referee: Geoff Eltringham