By Dominic Scurr
GATESHEAD Under-19s were held to a 1-1 draw against struggling Farsley Celtic at Gateshead College on Wednesday afternoon.
Najiih Hassan opened the scoring in the first half before the National League U19 Alliance’s bottom side drew level soon after.
Neither team were able to find a winner on a bitterly cold afternoon on the International Stadium 3G pitches, though both sides had a goal ruled out.
Ben Clark’s appointment as first-team manager saw under-19s coach Simon Johnson take charge of the team for the afternoon.
And the 22-year-old was disappointed with what he saw from the side.
“I thought the performance as a whole was disappointing,” admitted Johnson.
“It was an opportunity for some of the lads who maybe hadn’t been playing as much in recent weeks to be given a platform to show why they should be playing.
“We should have had a few more players available to us but they weren’t available due to the Dunston Durham Challenge Cup match which was due to be played tonight but has now been called off.
“On the whole, the players we had were more than capable of doing a job but I just thought we were complacent.
“When we scored first goal, I think everyone expected the floodgates to open but they didn’t and in the end we were lucky to get a point.
“They had a goal ruled out for a foul and their strength was a long ball up from their goalkeeper and there were three or four occasions where we struggled to deal with it and one of those resulted in a goal.
“At 1-1, they looked the more likely team to pick up three points.”
Despite his first-team commitments, former Reserve team manager Clark was present watching the match from the sidelines.
“It was an opportunity for the lads to impress today,” Johnson added.
“Clarky, the first team manager was watching and it was a chance for them to put in a performance and unfortunately, they just haven’t taken it.
“We were lacking in all departments today but we all look to move on, these lads are playing for a contract and their performances will dictate that so the message to the lads is that they must do better.”
Johnson started coaching at the club as part of a work placement earlier in the month but changes in management has lead to him becoming slightly more involved than first anticipated.
“It’s been really challenging but it’s great to be involved as much as I have,” continued the under-19s’ coach
“It’s a great opportunity, I came in initially just to help Clarky out with the under-19s but then doors open and he’s now with the first team and I’ve had to get a bit more involved with the under-19s which I’m relishing.
“I’m a young coach and I want to develop and work with good players which is what I’m doing here and I’m very grateful for that.”
Gateshead U19s XI: Uggochukwu, Kamara, Creighton, Hassan, Choudhury, Emmerson, Moody, Carrick, McGeoch, Burns, Outterside
Subs: Warriner, Chirinda, Dobie, Slater, Bennett