Wood nets a hat-trick as Rovers go seven-up against Gateshead
Gateshead Redheugh 1-7 Spittal Rovers
Paul Wood’s hat-trick capped an assertive and dominant Rovers performance on South Tyneside – Scott Mitchell’s men getting back on the winning trail after last week’s disappointing Minor Cup loss.
Latvian forward Dimitrijs Paplavskis broke the deadlock moments after grazing the post to give Spittal the perfect start – stooping low almost onto his knees to nod home Walker’s centre from the left flank past a helpless Cameron Fergus.
Full-back Ben Fairbairn then surged forward only for his strike to lack any power or danger. Paplavskis then dragged his next opportunity wide of the mark after Niall Jones’ creativeness before the supplier became recipient, the ball falling to Jones who sent his effort just over.
At the other end, Aidan Rutledge was in the thick of the action and after narrowly missing connection to a whipped cross, the troublesome number 9 then went close via a setpiece which was floated dangerously into the area from out wide.
Redheugh’s Mark Burns then brought the best out of Spittal stopper Stevie Mason, who was called into action to tip over an effort from distance with a superb one-handed save.
After these scares, the Berwick side turned up the pressure significantly – Jones blasting over after a good move involving Walker and Wood before Wood himself took full advantage of a calamitous goal-kick from Fergus, successfully slotting home to double his side’s lead.
Moments later, Paplavskis fluffed a chance in a one-on-one with Fergus prior to Jones’ looping effort bouncing off the crossbar.
A minor skirmish between Rhys Bloomfield and Gateshead’s skipper then started a poor spell in the game for the Seasiders, but, with the half trundling towards the break, a Kyle Jeffrey volley whistled just wide before Paplavskis netted his second – leaving Liam Stewart in his wake before jinking inside to guide the ball home.
Redheugh pulled a goal back minutes after the interval after Walker’s shove – Rutledge dispatching for his ninth goal of the campaign.
The hope that preceded this then evaporated when a short pass from Wood was buried by Jones.
Wood then grabbed his second via Jeffrey’s curling cross and the hat-trick soon followed when he turned home Walker’s delivery from out wide. Sandwiched between these two quickfire goals was Jeffrey’s shot that unfortunately left the goal frame shaking as Spittal continually piled forward.
Ben Amers, Richard Davison and Craig Bell were all introduced from the bench with the latter extremely unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with three successive chances that were on target somehow kept out by Fergus.
A fourth was headed inches wide by Bell before Jeffrey’s ferocious shot was palmed to safety. Bloomfield did manage to add another despite Fergus’ unbelievable performance late on – the midfielder calmly finding the corner on the turn which followed another sweeping Rovers move involving the instrumental Marco Lambert.
This was a great way to bounce back from last week’s setback. League leaders Rothbury (h) are next up in the cup before some mammoth December fixtures against Cramlington United (a), Whitley Bay SC (h) and Blyth FC (h).