Victory hopes thrown away

GATESHEAD'S disappointing end to the season continued as they contrived to turn victory into defeat at FA Trophy finalists Mansfield Town.

GATESHEAD'S disappointing end to the season continued as they contrived to turn victory into defeat at FA Trophy finalists Mansfield Town.

The Stags, toothless for 75 minutes, scored three late goals after Gary Mulligan’s double had given Gateshead a two-goal interval lead.

Adam Murray, however, gave Mansfield hope in the 75th minute, the midfielder then levelling two minutes from time with Louis Briscoe scoring the winner four minutes into injury time.

After a quiet opening, the game burst into life on the quarter-hour.

Stags’ top scorer Briscoe ran at the Gateshead defence to shoot just wide on the far post. Craig Nelthorpe’s angled drive was parried by Alan Marriott at the other end, while Adam Smith was inches past the post for Town.

Gateshead were then gifted a 19th- minute lead when Marriott dropped Paul Heckingbottom’s long throw after colliding with team-mate Niall O’Rafferty.

Mulligan gratefully accepted the Stags’ generosity and the Tynesider’s added a second five minutes from the interval. Mansfield’s defence was again culpable as Martin Brittain’s deep free-kick saw Mulligan head home at the back post unchallenged.

Nelthorpe shot over the bar early in the second half, but there was little further incident until the game turned sensationally late on.

After Nathan Fisher turned and twisted only to fire straight at Marriott Murray, set up by Briscoe, finished clinically.

The midfielder then curled a beauty into the far top corner after Heckingbottom’s headed clearance looped into the air.

The Tynesiders were now rocking but Nelthorpe almost regained the lead, Marriott saving at his near post.

The momentum however, was with Mansfield, and Murray rounded Paul Farman to clinch a dramatic winner four minutes into injury time.

That sparked a second pitch invasion as a stunned Gateshead trooped off.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Marriott; Silk, Foster, Preece, Spence, Smith (Hall 71), Thompson, Murray, Istead, Briscoe, O’Rafferty (Cain 43). Subs (not used): Collett, Nix, Naylor.

Goals: Murray 75, 89, Briscoe 90.

GATESHEAD: Farman; Baxter, Curtis (Jones 54), Clark, Heckingbottom, Brittain, Turnbull, Ferrell, Nelthorpe, Fisher (Gillies 85), Mulligan (Offiong 83). Subs (not used): Deasy, Rundle.

Booked: Heckingbottom.

Goals: Mulligan 19, 40.

Attendance: 1,749.

Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire).

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