By Jack McGraghan

Player-coach Mike Williamson couldn’t fault Gateshead’s ‘effort and desire’ following Tuesday evening’s narrow 1-0 defeat to AFC Fylde.

Williamson, Barrow v Eastleigh (Charlie Waugh)
Williamson, Barrow v Eastleigh (Charlie Waugh)

The two sides played out a closely-fought affair at the International Stadium, with the game ultimately decided by Nick Haughton’s 25-yard strike in the 31st minute.

Williamson – who returned to the starting line-up following a three-game suspension – was quick to praise the performance despite the result, saying: “I’m extremely proud of the lads.

“I thought we worked unbelievably well, we got on the ball and we played some good football but overall we just came up short.

“I think over the season if we have come up short it’s not for a lack of effort and desire, the lads gave every ounce out on the pitch today and which is a credit to the group.”

Resources have been scarce for the Heed throughout the season and even more so in recent weeks with Williamson’s suspension leaving only two recognised centre-backs available in Jon Mellish and Tom Devitt.

As they have all season however Ben Clark’s side have been forced to adapt, something Williamson feels can be a learning curve for the Heed’s younger players in particular.

“It’s been tough when you’ve got a wafer-thin squad like we have – and very young as well of course,” he continued.

“All you can ask for is the lads to show honesty, desire and application which I think they’ve done.

“Any mistakes, individually or as a team, you’ve just got to learn from them and that’s the only way you can get stronger and grow.

“It has been tough for all of us as a club, but individually and collectively we will come out stronger for it.”

Gateshead are not yet out of the play-off race and face Eastleigh on Saturday, who currently sit seventh and four points above the Heed, while Ebbsfleet and Sutton are also fighting for the chance to achieve promotion.

“There’s going to be twists and turns yet but of course it’s a cup final for us [on Saturday],” said Williamson.

“We’re still fighting with a few games to go so it’s a great position to be in considering the start of the season with the odds that we were facing, so I think all plaudits need to go to this group of players because it’s a fantastic opportunity still to play for.”