GATES SHUT ON BLUE­BIRDS RUN

The Non-League Football Paper - - VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE - By JEFF BOWRON

BAR­ROW’S four-month un­beaten run span­ning 26 games came to a shud­der­ing halt on the banks of the Tyne.

Neil Aspin’s Gateshead were down to the bare bones, but af­ter con­ced­ing an early goal from Danny Livesey they hit back in style with two goals in each half to end an oth­er­wise in­con­sis­tent year on a high.

But it was a New Year’s Eve clash that proved to be a sober­ing one for philo­soph­i­cal Blue­birds man­ager Paul Cox, who missed out on the chance to cut the gap to lead­ers Tran­mere to four points.

Cox ad­mit­ted af­ter­wards: “If there’s any pos­i­tive to the re­sult it’s that we knew it was com­ing at some point.

“We just never turned up, though we had chances at 1-0 up to kill the game, but there now needs to be some se­ri­ous plan­ning go for­ward.

“We got well and truly beaten to­day by a Gateshead side who worked ex­tremely hard and de­served the win. It’s been a great achieve­ment to go so long un­beaten, but no-one re­mem­bers the first half of the sea­son and we now need to push on.” For mid-ta­ble Gateshead – draw spe­cial­ists at home – it was a first win in eight league games and an ex­cel­lent dis­play against the odds, tak­ing them ever closer to the play-off places. “I’m ob­vi­ously de­lighted be­cause we’ve not won many games of late,” said boss Aspin. “We were un­der pres­sure to get a re­sult. “It takes a lot of do­ing to go 26 games un­beaten, so credit to Bar­row for that, but we fully de­served to win and the whole team was ex­cel­lent.

“Some in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances were out­stand­ing. Nyal Bell and Luke Han­nant did very well and their goals will have done them the world of good.

“The first goal got us back into the game and the qual­ity of the goals were ex­cel­lent. We de­fended well when we had to in the sec­ond half and I was de­lighted with the per­for­mance.”

But Aspin was made to sweat in the open­ing ex­changes as Bar­row edged ahead as early as the eighth minute.

In­deed, it was a poor goal for a makeshift Heed to con­cede – Livesey al­lowed to con­fi­dently dis­patch Nick An­der­ton’s cross into the box at the back-post.

The for­mer Carlisle de­fender was just a foot out and it was the per­fect way to cel­e­brate his 32nd birth­day.

Han­nant put an ef­fort high over the bar and the 22-year-old then smashed the ball into the roof of the net mid­way through the half to draw Aspin’s men level.

Fel­low rookie Bell did all the hard work go­ing past two men on the left of the box to put the ball into the path of Han­nant.

The mid­fielder’s fin­ish was em­phatic, but he was then booked within a minute for a two-footed lunge, the adrenalin flow­ing.

Bell’s strike part­ner Jor­dan Bur­row was un­lucky not to dou­ble the home lead with a header from Liam Ho­gan’s cross that was just tipped over.

Gateshead, how­ever, were not to be de­nied and on 39 min­utes Bell got in on the act from Gus Mafuta’s quick free-kick, slid­ing a low shot be­yond Andy Cough­lin and just in­side the far post. They were two great fin­ishes, but Bar­row re­mained a threat go­ing for­ward – Moussa Diarra hit­ting the post with an over­head kick.

Gateshead’s fin­ish­ing, how­ever, proved the dif­fer­ence af­ter the break as they added two more against the shell-shocked Cum­bri­ans.

Paddy McLaugh­lin’s ball in­side the full-back saw Wes York’s driven cross poked home by Bur­row less than four min­utes in.

And Bar­row were put out of their mis­ery on 70 min­utes when Bur­row’s through-ball sent York rac­ing into the left side of the box, and he clev­erly dinked the ball over the ad­vanc­ing Cough­lin as the keeper went to ground.

STAR MAN: Nyal Bell (Gateshead) ATT: 871 EN­TER­TAIN­MENT: ★★★★★ REF­EREE: An­drew Miller 6/10

PIC­TURES: Steven Had­low/Me­dia Im­age

SLID­ING IN: Jor­dan Bur­row scores Gateshead’s third goal af­ter Nyal Bell bags the sec­ond, in­set top. Be­low: Luke Han­nant cel­e­brates his equaliser

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