ALFRETON Town can take plenty of positives from their defeat on Tyneside at the weekend, having held their own for 60 minutes against the joint Blue Square Bet Premier leaders before an unfortunate slip by keeper Dan Lowson allowed Gateshead into the game.
The goal arrived just five minutes after influential defender Anton Brown had become the latest injury statistic for the Reds, landing awkwardly on his hip before being replaced by one of the new signings Steve Brogan.
Andy Holdsworth, who also beat the transfer deadline, was another Reds’ player to mark his debut at the International Stadium when he replaced Jamie Mullan six minutes from time.
Having absorbed the early pressure Alfreton made inroads with some confident approach work, but they were unable to break through the Gateshead back four despite going close in the 30th minute when two corners taken on either side by Levi Mackin caused problems for the hosts.
The first saw Brown’s shot cannon off Micky Cummins and the second corner led to Leigh Franks seeing his drive from outside the area held by home keeper Paul Farman, the sequence having commenced when a long throw by Franks had been misjudged by Sam Rents and Chris Senior’s low drive had been turned behind by Farman.
Kris Gate put Gateshead ahead from close range on the hour after Lowson had allowed a low drive from Chris Moore to rebound out of his hands on the increasingly greasy surface, and the midfielder scored again nine minutes from time with a 12 yard volley from Moore’s left-flank cross.
In between the goals Mullan had two great opportunities for an equaliser, the first coming on 63 minutes when he curled a free-kick against the inside of the post, then in the 70th minute he fired over from 15 yards when set up by Senior.
Gateshead had begun the game strongly with the Reds’ keeper having to save from Moore in the second minute, then a Yemi Odubade drive was diverted for a corner by Franks with Jon Shaw glancing a header wide.
But the Reds quickly found their feet as the rain lashed down, with Nathan Jarman heading on to the roof of the net from Franks’ 17th minute cross, then Jarman ran on to a Greg Young header but just could not manage to turn the ball towards goal after outpacing the home defence.
Mullan drove a 25 yarder just wide after cutting in from the left in the 39th minute, then Matt Wilson had to be alert when an effort from Gateshead skipper Ben Clark needed to be turned behind for a corner.
Odubade went close five minutes after the break, then with Brown receiving treatment Theo Streete threw himself in front of a shot as Shaw attempted in vain to keep up his record of scoring in every Gateshead game this season.
Jarman’s through-ball in the 67th minute prompted Farman to race out of goal to head clear, then towards the end with Alfreton refusing to lie down Farman had to beat out a deep free-kick taken by Brogan while Mackin saw a shot deflected for a corner off Cummins.
ALFRETON: Lowson; Franklin, Streete, Young, M.Wilson, Brown (Brogan 55 mins),Senior, Franks, Jarman (Ellison 74 mins), Mackin, Mullan (Holdsworth 84 mins).
Other subs: Moult, Hall.