GATESHEAD 0 BRAINTREE 1 The Heed are overcome by visiting Brain
GATESHEAD missed the chance to move into a play-off position when they were humbled on home soil by rock-bottom Braintree.
The Iron were the only National League side still looking for their first win of the season having picked up just three points from a possible 30 before yesterday.
But they doubled their tally on Tyneside as a toothless Heed fired blanks, managing just two efforts on target in game low on quality.
The Heed could count themselves a touch unfortunate not to pick up a point, but just didn’t create enough.
The closest they came was a close-range header from Steven Rigg in the second half which was blocked near the line by Ben Killip.
The Iron keeper also saw substitute Scott Barrow’s attempted cross just clear angle of bar and post, but he was generally untroubled.
On an afternoon to forget, onloan Sunderland wideman Luke Molyneux was denied his home Heed debut when he felt his hamstring in the warm-up.
“Obviously we missed Molyneux because he’s a very talented player, very attack-minded, and we missed a bit of that this afternoon,” said Gateshead manager Steve Watson.
“Luke Armstrong was also a big miss, but we had enough out there to win the game, but created very little.
“We weren’t brilliant, but we certainly had enough about us to have got a point out of that game.
“However, we’ve handed them a goal and that’s probably one too many – it’s really disappointing.
“We gave Braintree a leg up and something to hang on to, and we weren’t good enough to break them down.
“I never get too up-a-height when we win or too down when we lose, and we have to sometimes step back and understand where we are.”
A failure to deal with a set-play delivery into the box again proved to be Gateshead’s undoing.
Billy Crook’s 55th-minute delivery was on the money, but it was all too easy for centre-back Joe Ellul to head past Aynsley Pears.
Both sides struggled to create openings in a drab first half, Braintree bright going forward but as blunt in the final third as the Heed.
The one move of quality from the hosts saw Molyneux’s replacement Cameron Salkeld turn Riggs’ pass into the path of Greg Olley.
The midfielder, Gateshead’s most creative player on the day, fired an angled 25-yard drive just wide of the far post.
Braintree keeper Ben Killip saved Elliot Forbes’ header from JJ O’Donnell’s corner, with the Heed proving more offensive after the break without finding the net.
Salkeld should have done better from Tom White’s throughball before Braintree’s second attempt on target from Ellul ended up providing the winning goal for the visitors.
Gateshead huffed and puffed thereafter and with Scott Boden ineffective it was left to strike partner Rigg to provide the goal threat.
The former Carlisle striker was denied by Killip and O’Donnell, given a more advanced role after the introduction of Barrow, looped a header over the bar.
Braintree, however, sensed the time to break their duck had come and defended stoutly to get over the line – and in doing so condemned Gateshead to a second home defeat.