The last post rang out on a cold Tuesday evening at the Gateshead International Stadium and a minutes silence followed, observed by all the journalists and players in attendance. The Heed came into this fixture having lost all three of their last games, without scoring, where as Curzon Ashton had at least scored one goal in their last three games.
Referee James Westgate got the game underway at around 19:47 and it was Gateshead who launched the ball forward and began their attack. Gateshead were awarded an early corner, which was swung in by Greg Olley, who almost scored directly from, but Curzon Ashton goalkeeper Cameron Mason tipped it over the bar for a second, in swinging corner.
Gateshead had the majority of the opening five minutes possession and were restricting Curzon Ashton to their own half. Some good pressing and attacking from the team in white meant Curzon Ashton were unable to play it out of their half. But it was Curzon Ashton who had the first real opportunity of the game. The ball fell in the air for Connor Hughes who riffled a shot goal-ward and forced a save from former Forest Green Rovers goalkeeper James Montgomery.
Back on the attack The Heed went and forced Curzon Ashton to do a l to of defending down their defensive right. Gateshead number 7, Macaulay Langstaff, produced some magic on my near side which lead to nothing as several balls played into The Nash’s box were all dealt with.
Curzon Ashton were able to, finally, play it out of their own half for an extended period and fell into their best spell of the first half so far. A long throw from Douglas Tharme was cleared by Gateshead’s defence and was followed by some nice play from The Nash but the spell came to an end after the awarding of a free kick to Gateshead in their own box. They looked to play out out from the back and settle the game down. This became a common theme of the first half as The Heed looked to control play and play it at their own pace.
A frustrating opening twenty minutes from both sides saw little in the realms of quality, however both sides did have their little spells. After the half way point of the first half, James Montgomery became Gateshead’s saviour as several poor bits of defending almost put Curzon Ashton through on goal.
Towards the end of the first half, Gateshead’s number 14, Kal Griffiths, picked up a yellow card after a rash challenge on a Curzon Ashton midfielder. The first half ended with a good bit of aerial play from Curzon Ashton as Date Whitham played a ball over the Gateshead centre backs, into the path of Dominic Knowles, but he is deemed to be offside by the official on my near side.
To sum up the first half in a sentence: the only real bit of entertainment came early on when Gateshead goalkeeper James Montgomery was hit in the head with a ball that rebounded off the crossbar after a frustrated shot from Curzon Ashton.
Curzon Ashton got the second half underway, with both managers hopefully sparking some quality into the players in the dressing room after a rather dismal first forty-five. An early free kick from Curzon Ashtons Noah Stokes produced the first quality chance of the game. Douglas Tharme headed onto the post before Darren Stephenson skied a golden opportunity, which would have put The Nash in front. An end-to-end start to the second half saw Gateshead have an opportunity shortly after, which was followed by another opportunity from Curzon Ashton, but the ball was hit over the bar after an attempted overhead kick. Langstaff produced another opportunity for Gateshead and this good spell was topped off with a goal from halftime sub Jordan Cook from the far post after a lovely ball across the box from Langstaff.
Another good chance for The Heed followed and they were really on top. Langstaff made a darting run down the right flank and tried to play a ball across goal to replicate his assist for the opening goal but it was cleared by Curzon Ashton. It was Gateshead who continued to dominate proceedings in the opening ten minutes of the second period, but some poor deliveries and good defending from The Nash meant nothing good came from it.
The Heed continued their good start to the first half with another attack down their left. A ball was played back to the edge of the box but it was skied well high by Nicky Deverdics and Curzon Ashton had a chance to regroup. A chance for The Nash came soon after as Matthew Waters played a free kick, from 35 yards, deep into the Gateshead box, but it was offside and Gateshead took the free kick and looked to pounce with a long ball over the top.
At sixty-sixth minute substitution from Gateshead as Macaulay Langstaff makes way for Ruairi Keating. Keating making an immediate impact after coming on; a Curzon Ashton free kick was cleared and a counter was underway. Keating received the ball and held it up well before support arrived. The rest of the attack was poor and an offside was given, meaning Curzon Ashton could make a triple change.
Curzon Ashton tired to make use of some quick play and almost caught Gateshead’s defence out, but just like in the first half, Montgomery was there to clean up at he back after a poor cross from Waters. Daren Stephenson used his power and pace to beat the offside trap and make a run down the left. After some good tricks, he played a ball across the box and it was hit by Connor Hughes, but it was blocked. Another promising Nash attack lead to a shot being deflected wide and a corner. It was played deep and headed over, resulting in a Gateshead goal kick. A good cross by Waters was missed, in the air, by Stephenson and a foul was awarded by James Westgate, in favour of Gateshead. A Gateshead substitution followed and star midfielder Greg Olley made way for Jack Hunter, as The Heeds coaching staff looked to cement their 1-0 lead.
A lovely bit of play from Curzon Ashtons number Jude Oyibo in midfield lead to a foul being brought against Jake Cooper on Stephenson leading to a free kick, which was played directly at Montgomery by Paul Turnbull, who parries out.
Gateshead time wasting tactics were a prominent feature of the final ten minutes of the game. A free kick from Gateshead on the left was played into the middle of the box by Deverdics, Keating met it and put it wide. Shortly after, a fantastic ball was played into the back post by Curzon Ashton, it was met on the volley by Hughes, who forced a save from Montgomery. The Nash had another good attack immediately after and a free kick was awarded on the edge of the Gateshead box, after shouts from (CA Manager) for a penalty. Turnbull struck it straight down Montgomery’s throat and he punches it over. The corner that followed needed Montgomery’s goalkeeping to save another shot. He launches it downfield and Gateshead try to play it into the corner flag, clearly trying to run down the clock and gather the much needed three points.
With the last few seconds of the game remaining, Curzon Ashtons Matthew Waters summons his inner Usain Bolt and gets past Jack Hunter, forcing a late corner.
James Westgate blew the full time whistle, following three minutes of injury time, which produced little quality, rather summing up the entire ninety minutes of football. Overall Gateshead probably deserved the three points, although Curzon Ashton will be disappointed as they didn’t at least pick up a point.
Gateshead – James Montgomery, Alex Nicholson, Nathan Dale, Macaulay Langstaff (66 sub Ruairi Keating), Greg Olley (76 sub Jack Hunter), JJ O’Donnell, Kal Griffiths, Dan Ward (45 sub Jordan Cook [51st minute goalscorer]), Jake Cooper, Nicky Deverdics, Danny Greenfield
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Harrison Male, Ged Garner
Curzon Ashton – Cameron Mason, Craig Mahon (69 sub Jude Oyibo), Matthew Waters, Noah Stokes, Douglas Tharme, Paul Turnbull, Connor Hughes, Robert Evans (69 sub Alex Curran), Dominic Knowles, Date Whitham (69 sub Jacob Hanson), Darren Stephenson
UNUSED SUBSTITUTES: Luke Merrill