By Rory Drake
Midfielder Greg Olley admitted Saturday’s defeat to Barrow was ‘tough to take’ but feels the players and coaching staff at Gateshead should ‘hold their heads high for coming so close to what they thought was impossible’.
A first half brace from John Rooney proved the difference on Saturday, but neither side had anything more than the three points to play for, with both sides already confirmed to finish in the top half.
The result saw Gateshead finish 9th in the National League, eight points off Eastleigh, who occupy the final play-off spot.
“It was tough to take,” said Olley.
“I think first half we weren’t at it, our system against their system we just couldn’t quite get to grips with it, their fullbacks pushing wide, and their keeper’s distribution was really good.
“We gave away two quite cheap goals. They went into the top corner and Aynsley had nothing he could do to save them to be honest.
“Second half we came out and I thought we were much the better team, even when we went down to 10 men, we were still in with a chance of getting something out of the game, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Gateshead had the chances, but just couldn’t find the finish, a familiar story in recent weeks with just two goals in six games going into the final day, and now two in the final seven to end the season.
Olley added: “I think for all of the lads it’s been a bit of a disappointment.
“I know we were favourites for relegation, but we started amazing, we got to Christmas still in and around the play-offs and then we got to our penultimate game and we needed to win it to have a chance at the play-offs.
“Everyone has a bit of a sinking feeling, it’s really disappointing, but we can hold our heads high that we’ve still achieved something that no-one thought we would do.
“I think it’s been a really good year for myself, I think we’ve all come away from it knowing we’ve done the best we can.
“I think we can hold our heads high we’ve been a credit to ourselves. To be so close to where we thought was impossible, I think that’s a real credit.
“I want to say a massive thank you to the fans. Come every home game we get amazing support and with all the long trips that we have they’ve been a credit to themselves. Hopefully we’ve done them some sort of justice.”
The closeness of the group has been highlighted throughout the campaign, with many putting the success of the team down to it.
But with the summer comes the transfer window, and as is often the case there’s likely to be a turnaround of players, with Barrow the last game the current team are likely to play as a complete squad.
“It is sad, but that’s football,” the 23-year-old added.
“To lose on the last day is not the greatest. It is quite a sad ending, but again, football moves on and I know everyone will do well next year, and we’ll all see each other over the summer so it’s not like we’re all going to be losing touch altogether.
“Mike’s [Williamson] been saying, Clarky’s been saying, there’s not many chances in football where you can be in and around a play-off team, but also where you’re all friends. It’s difficult to come by in football, to have all of us click, get on with each other so well, on and off the pitch.
“Obviously with everything going on behind the scenes, there’s nothing that we can do, but I’m hoping it all gets sorted over the summer for the fans, and they can still have a good go next season with a good set of lads.
“I’m keeping my options open, but like I said, it’s football at the end of the day. I’ll have Clarky on the phone and Busted and I’ll keep in touch with them and see what the plan is.”