ROCHDALE 2 GATESHEAD 1 FA Cup dream dies with two quickfire goals
A SPIRITED Gateshead were unable to pull off an upset as they crashed out of the FA Cup at Rochdale – but they pushed the League One side all the way.
Two goals inside two minutes midway through the first half left the Heed behind the eight ball at the Crown Oil Arena.
A feature of the two FA Cup ties the last time the two clubs met four decades ago was Gateshead scoring an own goal in each game.
That saw them eventually beaten in a second-round replay at Spotland back in 1975 and history was to repeat itself on their return.
Young left-sided central defender Jon Mellish turned Jordan Williams’ cross past Aynsley Pears and into his own net.
Ian Henderson’s 100th goal for Rochdale quickly doubled Dale’s lead to leave Gateshead with a mountain to climb.
They responded superbly and had chances to get on the scoresheet in the first half, but just couldn’t take them.
Manager Steve Watson had vowed his side would have a real go against a side two divisions and 40 places above them – and they did just that.
But despite Mellish pulling a goal back early in the second half, and the backing of a vocal 275-strong Heed Army, an equaliser proved elusive.
“It’s very disappointing not to be in the hat, but it was always going to be tough giving a twogoal lead to a League One club,” said Watson.
“It was disappointing to go in at half-time two goals down and the real killer blow was the second goal so quick after the first.
“We knew if we scored first in the second half we’d have half a chance, and we were excellent after the break.
“We were on the front foot and forced Rochdale back. I like the way Keith Hill’s side play and it was just fine lines.
“All in all I am really proud – but also very disappointed.”
Brendan Moore saved from Heed captain Scott Barrow and then Luke Armstrong fired just wide of the far post.
It was the home side, however, who scored the important first goal on 21 minutes. Henderson pulled the ball back for Williams, whose effort was sliced into his own goal by England C international Mellish. Before a gallant Gateshead, who had twice as many efforts at goal as Rochdale, could regain their composure, it was two.
Ex-Newcastle schemer Brad Inman found Henderson at the back post and the 33-year-old tapped home his 11th of the season.
Gateshead’s response was courageous and impressive, Greg Olley twice going close, Moore equal to his second effort. Scott Boden then twice went close, curling just wide of the far post, and then volleying over the bar.
Gateshead were an attacking threat and they were back in it four minutes into the second half.
Mellish got on the score-sheet at both ends when he worked a one-two with Olley to curl into the far corner, despite a hand from Moore.
Chances were then limited at both ends, although Olley chipped over and sub Steven Rigg was inches wide late on as Gateshead just pulled up short.
Gateshead front man Scott Boden battles for possession against Rochdale