GATESHEAD 0 EASTLEIGH 1 Home form is giv­ing Wat­son big Heed-ache

Sunday Sun - - Football - JEFF BOWRON

GATESHEAD’S home form is threat­en­ing to de­rail their cam­paign as Eastleigh were the lat­est side to in­flict de­feat on the Heed.

Steve Wat­son’s men have won their last three away games, but this was their third de­feat in a row at the In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium.

The Heed handed rock-bot­tom Brain­tree their only win of the sea­son last time on home soil with­out scor­ing.

They again failed to find the net as they were g u n n e d down by the Spit­fires, who scored with their only shot on tar­get in the sec­ond half.

The big re­duc­tion in ad­mis­sion prices brought only a small in­crease at the gate, and the Heed Army were to leave frus­trated once again.

Full-back Josh Hare’s 77thminute strike from out­side the box did for Gateshead, who had just hit the wood­work twice.

Eng­land C call-up Robbie Tin­kler hit both post and bar in­side four min­utes, only for Eastleigh to hit the Heed with a sucker-punch. Just as against Brain­tree it was un­de­served, but the Heed can’t trade on hard luck sto­ries and have to find a cre­ative spark at home. “Like the Brain­tree game, it’s so frus­trat­ing,” said man­ager Wat­son. “The two best play­ers on the pitch again were de­fend­ers, Tin­kler and Mel­lish. “We have to cre­ate more at home – we didn’t do enough again. “I never ques­tion the en­ergy or the at­ti­tude, but with the abil­ity we’ve got, we should be dom­i­nat­ing a lot more. “We have to break teams down with speed of thought and speed of play, and we were too slow in pos­ses­sion. “We were nowhere near good enough with the ball. Teams sit back to frus­trate us, but it’s up to us to break them down.” The open­ing 45 min­utes pro­vided lit­tle in terms of goal­mouth ac­tion, al­though Chris Ze­browski should have con­verted Josh Hare’s 18th-minute cross. The Heed were laboured in pos­ses­sion, al­low­ing Eastleigh to mass their ranks and keep them at arms length. Front pair Scott Bo­den, who had scored three in the last two games, and Steven Rigg had lit­tle im­pact, al­though the sup­ply line was lim­ited.

Tin­kler fizzed a cen­tre across goal that went un­touched, but both sides lacked a cut­ting edge.

Gateshead had strong claims for a penalty waved away eight min­utes into the sec­ond half when Rigg went down un­der the chal­lenge of Reda John­son.

Michael Green shot past the far post at the other end be­fore Tin­kler’s su­perb curler from just out­side the box came off the bar.

The Spit­fire’s on-loan Sun­der­land keeper Max Stry­jek was beaten again three min­utes later, Tin­kler’s an­gled shot this time hit­ting the far post.

But it was to be Eastleigh who nicked all three points 13 min­utes from time.

A quick counter saw Hare’s 22-yard shot find the net off the far post to give Eastleigh their third win on the spin.

It was set­back that gave Gateshead food for thought ahead of an­other home game against third­bot­tom Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge next week­end.

MARTIN SWIN­NEY

Gateshead ap­peal for a penalty af­ter Reda John­son’s (right) chal­lenge on Steven Rigg

Mike Wil­liamson (left) goes up for a header

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