By Dominic Scurr
JACK Burns hit a hat-trick as Gateshead Under-19s ran out as convincing winners against Harrogate Town Under-19s at Gateshead College on Wednesday afternoon.
Burns’ hat-trick and a brace from Brandon Slater was enough to see the Heed youngsters get off to a winning start in 2019 as they moved up to second in the National League U19 Alliance table.
Head coach Ben Clark said following the match: “I’m really pleased with how the majority of the game went today.
“We dominated the match for the whole 90 minutes and played some good football.
“I was a little bit disappointed with the goals that we conceded, we should have kept a clean sheet really but it was just individual errors that you sometimes get with the young lads but they’ll learn from that and thankfully it didn’t stop us picking up a very pleasing victory.
“It was a great hat-trick from Burnsy which I’m really happy with because he’s taken on board what we’ve asked him to do, particularly with his hold-up play which I thought was excellent and he got the rewards today – three goals for a striker is great.
“Two from Brandon Slater as well who plays slightly higher as part of the midfield three so that was very encouraging for him as well.
“It’s a great way to start the New Year, the lads have had 10 days off and they’ve looked after themselves and came back ready and hungry and they’ve made a great start to 2019.
“They’ve got a big three or four months ahead of them now our players because they’ll be looking to earn a contract here and if they can’t then I’ll obviously be recommending them to other places across the Northern League.
“But they’ve done great so far this season but the challenge I’ve set them know is can they do even better and earn themselves that contract?”
It was Clarky’s first game back in charge of the Under-19s side since his suprise inclusion on the first-team bench during Saturday’s National League match against Maidenhead United.
And while the former Gateshead captain is happy to do what he can to help, he was glad to be back in his coaching ‘comfort zone’ on Wednesday afternoon.
“If I’m honest I feel much more comfortable coaching nowadays,” Clark admitted.
“But with the situation where the first team was short of players, I’ll always do what I can to help with that.
“For me, it was really pleasing to be sat alongside Lewis (McGeoch) on the bench and see him get on the pitch after working with him with the under-19s this season.
“But I’m always here to help the team out, whether that be being on the bench for the first team or coaching with the under-19s.”
Gateshead Under-19s XI: Lumsden (gk); Kamara, Dobie, Hassan, Ord (c), Choudhury, Moody, Carrick, Burns, Slater, Outterside
Subs: Chirinda, Emerson, Roberts
Goals: Burns (3), Slater (2)