The Non-League Football Paper - - FA CUP 1ST ROUND - By Mark Cowan

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.”

PIC­TURES: Shut­ter Press

BAT­TLE: Rochdale's Jordan Wil­liams tan­gles with Gateshead's Scott Bar­row and in­set, Jon Mel­lish cel­e­brates scor­ing in the right net

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