GATESHEAD rediscovered their defensive solidity to keep the promotion flame flickering while ending Cambridge United’s play-off hopes.
The Tynesiders hadn’t kept a clean sheet away in the Conference since the New Year’s Day win at Darlington, so it was a welcome shut out at The Abbey.
It also provided the platform for an impressive 11th away win of the season, 10 of them in the league.
It is a record bettered by only top two Fleetwood Town and Wrexham and fifth-top Southport, from whom the gap will be just three points if Gateshead beat Bath City tomorrow. “We defended very well and Paul Farman didn’t have a shot of note to save,” said Gateshead boss Ian Bogie, “and it was a great response to the setback at Braintree. A lot of work has gone in on the training ground this week with the back four and on defending as a team, so it was good to keep a clean sheet.”
Bogie handed Phil Turnbull a more advanced role while allowing Jamie Chandler to pull the strings in midfield. The ex-Quaker excelled in his new role and it was another former Darlington man, Liam Hatch, who claimed the all-important goal two minutes after the break.
Martin Brittain swung in a deep cross that saw Hatch rise at the back post to loop a header over Danny Naisbitt in the U’s goal.
It was Gateshead’s first goal at The Abbey in four attempts, the previous two Conference games at the venue seeing Bogie’s men concede eight goals.
Cambridge last recorded a Saturday home win in the Conference back on October 15. “It was a game we had to win,” added Bogie. “But it will count for nothing if we do not beat Bath City.”
CAMBRIDGE UNITED: Naisbitt, Roberts, Coulson (Hudson 46), McAuley, Jennings, Thorpe, Shaw (Berry 61), Jarvis, Eades (Dawkin 66), Gash, Pugh. Subs (not used): Tiryaki, Hughes.
GATESHEAD: Farman, Baxter, Curtis, Clark, Dummett, Chandler, Turnbull, Cummins, Brittain (Odhiambo 86), Shaw, Hatch (Marwood 75). Subs (not used): Deasy, Gate, Gillies. Booked: Turnbull. Goal: Hatch 47.
Ref: Declan Ford (Leicestershire) Att: 2,344