Rovers scrape home against a nine-man Gateshead side
Spittal Rovers 2-1 Gateshead Redheugh
Stand in boss Anthony Murray saw his Spittal side miss a catalogue of chances in this one and found himself breathing a huge sigh of relief at full-time when Rovers finally got themselves across the line.
For long periods they made extremely hard work of things against a Gateshead Redheugh side who finished the match with nine men - dissent ill discipline costing them dearly.
Rovers, none the less, rise to 5th in the table after completing their third victory in a row at Newfields this season and with it, maintain their perfect form on home soil.
They could have got their noses in front after literally ten seconds when Niall Jones broke through on goal, but despite doing everything right, Troy Baker’s dangling leg was enough to divert Jones’ effort wide of the mark. Ben Amers then latched onto Marco Lambert’s defence splitting pass, but after stripping Liam Stewart for pace, the young striker blazed over. He was involved in the action again moments later when he did incredibly well to dig out a cross for Kyle Jeffrey, who couldnt quite stretch to get a connection in the six yard box.
It was Jones who was shining again when he swept home the opener - Jeffrey cleverly tricking his way past Jamie Clarke to unhinge Redheugh’s backline before delivering an accurate ball over to the unmarked Jones, who now sits with five goals in five Alliance matches. Jeffrey then went up through the gears to accelerate past two players, but with Baker closing him down, a nasty bobble saw him skew his shot well wide.
The Seasiders extended their lead further when Jones jinked his way through on goal once again before leaving the upright shaking with a venomous strike. Fortunately, a well placed Ben Amers was on hand to convert, staying calm despite being a little over cautious in front of goal to counteract the lively pitch.
Gateshead skipper Daniel Curry was certainly pulling the strings in his own sides midfield, setting the willing & eager Mark Conlin away a couple of times down the right hand side. The Geordies looked a threat from set pieces - Stephen Mason palming away a thunderous strike from distance to his right before being equal to another just moments later from the otherside. He almost got caught out just before the interval when a back pass ricocheted favourably into the path of Cameron Fergus, but despite being out of his goal, a superb challenge from Will Short repelled the danger, letting Rovers off the hook.
The visitors fashioned more half chances for themselves after the restart, but it was Spittal who distinctly lacked the ability to kill the game off, squandering various chances from great positions. Jones first shot wide before boxing for both Amers and Paul Wood - neither able to connect. When Wood did meet one, getting to a drilled cross from Richard Baxendale ahead of Baker, his glancing header frustratingly came back off the crossbar.
An air of panic and nervousness then descended on the Seasiders when a well worked move down Gateshead’s right was neatly dispatched past Mason by Matthew Fisher. Despite the two quick dismissals and two man disadvantage, they continued to be a threat right up to the final whistle with the Berwick side struggling to keep possession, poor decision making adding to the nail biting finish.