GATESHEAD 0 EASTLEIGH 1 Home form is giving Watson big Heed-ache
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.
Gateshead appeal for a penalty after Reda Johnson’s (right) challenge on Steven Rigg
Mike Williamson (left) goes up for a header