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Harriers 2 Gateshead 1

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Date: 06-09-14gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 2607gif away fans: 83
Harriers beat the Gateshead pass masters

gif Report by Harriers Shane
In front of a bumper (and one suspects, miscounted) crowd of 2607, Gary Whild's charges passed their first test against a team who many expect to be in and around the title scene come May.  It was, of course, Non-League Day and with it came the first chance for Harriers to suck in some of the more casual, or indeed curious fans of higher division clubs.  With the sun beaming down on the Aggborough turf the new visitors to our second home could hardly complain about the weather.

The Harriers boss Gary Whild elected to recall Chey Dunkley following his one match ban for the silly handball against Chester on Bank Holiday Monday, with Jamie Grimes moving into midfield in place of Aman Verma.  Gary Mills' Gateshead boasted ex-Sunderland midfielder John Oster and former Luton striker Jon Shaw in a starting eleven which enjoys playing football on the deck, a hallmark of Mills' sides.

The game itself started with Gateshead looking the more dangerous, certainly settling the quickest of the two sides as they set about passing the ball and retaining possession well, whilst Harriers were content to let them have it in non-dangerous areas of the pitch.  The first effort on goal came from the visitors; former Luton man JJ O'Donnell firing over after some neat play.  Certainly, both teams were playing football the way it should be played which made for an entertaining spectacle.

Harriers' first real efforts came moments later with young Heed full back Andrai Jones deflecting wide a Jamie Grimes header from Marvin Johnson's centre.  The corner was headed over by the recalled Dunkley.

The visitors continued to dominate possession, but aside from an occasional effort from Jon Shaw, and a Gowling block from an Alex Rodman effort, the Harriers goal was never unduly threatened.  Former Harriers keeper Adam Bartlett, in fairness, was never really troubled either, although he could thank his defence for blocking at least three efforts from Grimes and Nicholson in quick succession.  Someone had put some credit into the Aggborough pinball machine!

To summarise the first half, Gateshead dominated possession, but with no real cutting edge.  We all know that isn't the important stat, and how that one would change shortly!

During half time, there was plenty of entertainment in the form of kids football, whilst a pair of familiar faces were back in town.  Huddersfield's Joe Lolley and Fleetwood's Jamille Matt partook in a lap of honour around their former stomping ground to rapturous applause.  What a strike pairing that would have been.
  HT: 0 - 0
Hopefully, they were back in their seats in time because it took just nine, yes NINE, seconds of the second half for the deadlock, and the Harriers' strikers goal drought, to be broken.  Former Newport man Craig Reid, who has deserved a goal all season, was the man to fire the Harriers in front and a lovely finish it was too.  The ball was laid into Nathan Blissett, who laid it onto Reid on the edge of the area, the striker with a sublime piece of control to beat his man before firing into the back of the net for what is hopefully his first of many this year.

Whatever Messrs Whild and Creighton had slipped into the half time cups of tea must have worked, because just two minutes later, the lead was doubled.  We all know what they say about London buses and that applied today to goals for the Harriers strikers as Reid's partner, Nathan Blissett opened his account for the season.  Jack Byrne picked the ball up in the centre circle with no Heed man in his immediate presence, which allowed him to ping a delightful pass to Johnson.  The tricky winger committed his man then supplied 'Big Bliss' with a pearl of a delivery that Harriers' number 13 took delight in heading past Bartlett who had no chance.

With Gateshead stunned, one could sense the confidence oozing through the collective veins of the home side who began to control the play and push on for yet more goals, Kyle Storer firing wide a couple of minutes later.  On the hour mark, the Aggborough pinball machine was wheeled out again with a Harriers corner leading to havoc in the Gateshead box, although it was eventually cleared.

In their first real drive of the second half the visitors halved the deficit.  Tenacious work from the ex-Darlington man Jamie Chandler resulted in some good defending initially from Chey Dunkley, the ball fell to a Heed man who clipped the ball to the far post for Jon Shaw to nod past Danny Lewis; a soft goal to concede as he got the wrong side of his man.

With the score 2-1, and the predictable swapping of the front two completed, the question was whether Harriers could hold on.  A tense final quarter of an hour ensued as Gateshead pushed forward in search of an equaliser; Alex Rodman firing in a free kick which was handled well by Lewis.  Rather unsurprisingly the game opened up with Harriers having some half chances on the counter attack.

Referee Darren England's last blow on his whistle was the cue for an almighty roar to be unleashed around Aggborough, a well-earned standing ovation for the lads in Red was appreciated by the players.

Despite off-field concerns financially, Harriers went out and entertained a bumper crowd, got all three points and sent the fans home happy, both debutants and regulars.  Let's just hope that the bug has bit them and that we see them down the road, and not just on marquee days such as Sunderland or Non-League Day.  Still unbeaten, we now travel to Southport on Tuesday night in search of another three points to consolidate our play-off position at this early stage of the season.
  FT: 2 - 1

 Goals for Harriers: Reid 46, Blissett 49
 Goal for Gateshead: Shaw 64


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Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Gateshead  goals   subs   cards 
Lewis     Bartlett  
Hodgkiss     Jones
Nicholson     O'Donnell  
Storer     Chandler  
Gowling     Curtis  
Dunkley     Clark  
Byrne     Oster gif  
Johnson   Turnbull gif
Blissett gif gif     Shaw gif  
Reid gif gif     Wright  
Grimes     Rodman gif
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Singh     Guy gif - 81  
Gash gif - 72     Ramshaw gif - 61  
Verma     Allan gif - 82  
Gittings     Baxter  
Styche gif - 67     McDermott  

REFEREE:
Mr D England
Sth Yorkshire





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