A battling performance by Harrogate Town at the cavernous,International Stadium,saw Town come from behind to defeat Gateshead and climb to the top of the National League.
Town were unchanged from Saturday’s defeat of Eastleigh and they almost took an early lead when Joe Leesley unleashed a thiry yard drive which Aynsley Pears had to tip over the bar.
Next,Kelvin Langmead pushed forward into the “Heed”area to head a Jack Muldoon corner wide of the upright,as Town kept up the pressure.
Gateshead,playing some attractive football,drove forward and were awarded a free kick on the edge of Town’s penalty area.Greg Olley’s effort took a slight deflection off the head of Liam Agnew and flicked the top of Town’s crossbar with James Belshaw helpless to intervene.
Town retaliated with a free kick of their own which saw Callum Howe head wide.
However,the visitors were not to be denied ,because halfway through the half,a run and cross from Warren Burrell found George Thomson in the Heed area and he was pulled to the ground by skipper,Robbie Tinker,which earned him a booking and Town a spot kick.
Up stepped Dom Knowles and easily beat Pears to put Town in front.
Thomson again threatened the home goal with a rising drive from twentyfive yards,but it was the hosts who hit back ten minutes before the break.
A quick throw in caused consternation in the Town defence and was scrambled away for a corner, from which centre back,Fraser Kerr scored with a powerfull header.
The Heed had the first chance of the second half when sub,Connor Thomson,found Steve Rigg,but Burrell managed to divert the ball wide.
Unfortunately for Town, seven minutes into the half the Heed took the lead when Rigg cut in from the left and placed a cross shot into the far corner of the net.
Town’s fighting spirit began to shine through and four minutes later they were level.Liam Kitching and Leesley combined on the left and the latter’s cross was knocked on by Lloyd Kerry to Jack Muldoon who fired low into the corner of the net.
The game ebbed and flowed,as both sides were egged on by vociferous fans who tried to create some atmosphere in the huge Athletic Stadium,cheered and counter cheered.
The Town defence stood firm to block an Elliott Forbes shot,and a Tinkler cross found Scott Boden in space but his header was wide of the upright.
Town were nowhere near finished and Pears had to turn Leesley’s shot from an acute angle round the post for a corner which Howe headed at the keeper.
Simon Weaver made three late substitutions,with Mark Beck,Aaron Williams and Levi Sutton replacing,Thomson,Knowles and Agnew respectively.
Town’s subs gave them fresh impetus and with six minutes left they netted the winner.
The Heed defence were only able to clear the excellent Burrell’s shot as far as Williams,and the prolific ex Brackley striker,drove into the back of the net to give Town victory and send them to the top of the table.
Belshaw,Howe,Burrell(c),Thomson(Beck 56),Knowles(Williams 83),Agnew(Sutton 83),Langmead,Kerry,Muldoon,Kitching.
Unused subs,Parker,Cracknell. Booked Knowles,
Scorers,Knowles pen,Muldoon 55,Williams 85.
Scorers,Kerr 35,Rigg 52. Att.846 (149 away).
Referee J Oldham.
By John Harrison.