IT was the lowest crowd to watch a Luton Town game and the Hatters’ record Conference defeat, but the only stats which mattered to Gateshead were three precious points.
A magnificent five-goal demolition of the former First Division club and 1988 League Cup winners improved the Tynesiders’ standings near the bottom by just one point.
They remain 18th but victory over fourth-bottom Nuneaton Town at Hartlepool tomorrow will put them five points clear of danger and all but mathematically safe.
Carlisle’s expansive Brunton Park pitch was to Gateshead’s liking as they tore Luton apart and recorded 19 efforts on goal in a one-sided game.
The Tynesiders were first to virtually every ball, exploited the open spaces with great football and produced a string of quality finishes.
Talented young duo Ryan Donaldson and Josh Gillies proved too hot to handle and fittingly claimed two goals apiece.
Bustling striker Liam Hatch, who had a heavyweight clash with Hatters centre-back Steve McNulty all afternoon, added the coup de grace with a brilliant fifth in stoppage time.
The result was one of the finest in Gateshead’s history much to the delight – and relief – of chairman Graham Wood.
He said: “It was a fantastic result against the biggest club in the Conference and it was a top-six not a bottom-six display.
“Before the game I would probably have taken a draw but it was the best performance of the season, ten minutes in you could see it was our day.
“Anth Smith and his assistant David Rush deserve enormous credit in what they have achieved so far.”
GATESHEAD: Bartlett, Bore, Boyle, Cummins, Curtis, Magnay, Gillies (Fowler 89), Turnbull, Hatch, Brown (Marwood 71), Donaldson (Everson 86). Subs (not used): Nixon (gk), Galpin.
Goals: Donaldson (13, 66), Gillies (15, 45-pen), Hatch (90+3).
Booked: Turnbull (75).
LUTON TOWN: Brill, Rowe-Turner, McNulty, Ainge, Goodman, Martin, Smith, Taiwo (Robinson 46), Wall (Rendell 86), Gray, Walker. Subs (not used): McFarlane, Griffiths, Shaw.
Goal: Walker (35). Booked: McNulty (33), Robinson (57).
Referee: Darren Handley (Bolton). Attendance: 382.