By Dominic Scurr
GATESHEAD Reserves endured a thrilling game at Ponteland United to win 4-3 and claim a fourth victory in five Northern Alliance matches.
A hat-trick from winger Corey McKeown and a first-half strike by Jack Warriner was enough for the Heed youngsters to hold on for the three points despite a late fightback from the hosts.
Within the opening five minutes, McKeown handed Gateshead the lead as Brandon Slater picked up the ball on the edge of the Ponteland box before slipping in the former Newcastle East End youngster who buried the ball into the left side of the goal from close range.
Ponteland quickly bounced back and drew level before the quarter-hour mark as Kane Gellately opportunistically pounced inside the box to make it 1-1.
The Heed’s second string side had a couple of chances to retake the lead as Slater and Warriner both came close.
Then another moment of magic from McKeown led to his and Gateshead’s second. It was fine solo effort for the teenager as he cut inside from the left flank to make his way into the Ponteland box before clinically curling the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal from 15-yards.
Shortly after, McKeown and Slater were at the heart of the action yet again. Slater – who was named on the bench for Gateshead’s first-team last weekend – received the ball from McKeown before turning and threading a defence-splitting pass through to Warriner who had enough time and space to apply a calm finish past the goalkeeper with the ball nestling in the bottom left corner.
And just as the young Tynesiders looked to be heading in at half-time with a two-goal advantage, Ponteland’s Louis Calvert arrived unmarked at the far post to nod in a free-kick and reduce the deficit at the break.
20-minutes into the second half, Gateshead had their two-goal lead restored. Warriner found himself in a threatening position inside the box but opted against shooting – instead cutting the ball back for McKeown to complete his hat-trick with a simple finish into the centre of the goal.
Dave Dickson’s side looked to be cruising to another comfortable victory until substitute player-manager Liam McIvor arrived at the back post to poke the ball home inside the final 10-minutes.
The goal set up a tense finish for the Heed reserves but they were able to withstand the late pressure and hold out maturely to secure an impressive 4-3 win.
Following the match, reserves manager Dave Dickson gave his thoughts on the game – listen to his full interview below…
Gateshead Reserves XI: Ugochukwu; Outterside, Dobie, Carrick, Dabizas, McHarg, Moody (Dinsley 54), Dickson, Warriner (Burns 75), Slater (c), McKeown (Cranston 85)
Subs not used: Emerson, Chowdhury
Goals: McKeown (5, 32, 65), Warriner (39)