BRAVE HEED FALL SHORT AT DALE
GATESHEAD boss Steve Watson was left proud but disappointed as his side were edged out by Rochdale.
Jon Mellish turned the ball into his own net in the 21st minute and within 60 seconds Dale had doubled their lead through Ian Henderson’s 100th goal for the club.
But Gateshead hit back with a well worked goal from Mellish four minutes into the second half.
And the visitors had League One Dale pinned inside their own half for long periods in the remainder of the game, but couldn’t find the equaliser they deserved.
“I’m really proud of the way they performed, even in the first half, we were disappointed to be going in 2-0 down,” said Watson. “The killer blow was conceding that second goal so quickly after the first. We knew if we scored first in the second half we’d have half a chance.
“We were excellent in the second half, we were on the front foot and forcing them to put the ball out. It was fine lines, we just needed a little nick on one of those balls that were fizzed across the box. We couldn’t quite get the second goal we probably deserved.
“It’s very disappointing not being in the hat but it was always going to be tough giving a two-goal start to a League One side.”
Mellish turned Henderson’s near post cross past Aynsley Pears in the Gateshead goal to break the deadlock. And when Henderson prodded home Brad Inman’s centre soon after, Dale looked firmly in control.
But when Mellish raced onto a clever backheel from Greg Olley his shot was parried into the net by Dale keeper Brendan Moore.
Olley had Gateshead’s best chance to level, lofting the ball over Moore, but clearing the Dale crossbar.
Rochdale manager Keith Hill felt his side went into ‘cruise control’ at 2-0 and criticised keeper Moore.
“From a mental point of view, 2-0 can be a dangerous scoreline,” he said. “I tried to pre-warn the players at half time, but we fell into the trap.
“Regardless, our keeper has got to save that shot.”
BATTLE: Rochdale's Jordan Williams tangles with Gateshead's Scott Barrow and inset, Jon Mellish celebrates scoring in the right net