By Rory Drake
A brace from youngster Lewis McGeoch, coupled with stunning strikes from Connor Thomson and JJ O’Donnell, helped Gateshead to a comprehensive home victory over Billingham Town in the Durham Challenge Cup on Wednesday.
Gateshead took the lead at the International Stadium shortly before half-time when Connor Thomson’s cross was parried into the path of McGeoch who fired in from close range, despite the best efforts of two Billingham defenders on the line.
The youngster added a second early in the second half, rounding Nicholas Cranston to fire into an empty net after being played in by Cameron Salkeld.
Thomson added a third with just over 10 minutes to go, firing a fierce effort from outside the box, which found the bottom right corner via the post.
Gateshead saved the best until last though, as JJ O’Donnell spotted the keeper off his line and unleashed an ambitious effort from the halfway line which found the top corner.
Post-game, coach Ben Clark said: “I think it was a very professional performance. The first team lads did really well, and it was a good opportunity for some of the younger players to get a game as well.
“I think a couple have definitely put thoughts in the gaffer’s mind regarding the first team.
“Connor Thompson was excellent throughout the game and scored a really good goal, and obviously a good goal again from JJ.
“These games are important for the lads who aren’t in the team to try and get in the team. We can play a lot better, but I think the lads did well overall.
“It’s a good cup, we’re looking to go as deep as we can to it. We’ll be looking to win every game we play so we’ll definitely be looking to win it.”
On McGeoch’s brace, Clark said: “Lewis has been great. He’s an Under-19 player who is with me regularly, but he’s been training with the first team for about three or four weeks now and the gaffer and Mickey are really pleased with him.
“He’s a goalscorer – if he gets chances he’ll score goals. He can play better, and he’ll tell you that, but I’m really pleased for him.”
Watch the goals here
Gateshead XI: Foden; Dabizas, Devitt, McManus; Thomson, Forbes ©, Hayhurst, Smith, O’Donnell; Salkeld, McGeoch
Unused subs: Lumsden; Slater, Ord, Moody, Dobie
Goals: McGeoch (37, 54), Thomson (79), O’Donnell (84)
Billingham Town: Cranston; Davis, Dixon ©, Hillerby, Kirkbride, Flounders, Thompson (Hutchinson 72’), Hughes, Maddison, Morris, Connelly (Lavan 72’)
Unused subs: Oakley; Hogan, Summers
Bookings: Flounders (66)
Referee: Adam Williamson
Man of the Match: Thomson