The lights are on but, points-wise as yet, Gateshead are still in the dark. The Tynesiders followed up their Skrill Premier opening-day defeat at Kidderminster Harriers with another, to Grimsby Town, on their first competitive return to the International Stadium since New Year’s Day.
At least the game was completed, though. For after last season’s pitch problems, a temporary floodlight failure – seriously, what next for the Heed? Locusts? – threatened to force abandonment and chalk off Phil Turnbull’s wonder goal but, mercifully, merely delayed the second half by 15 minutes.
Implored by Anth Smith to “take the game to Grimsby”, his side obeyed, and after 15 minutes Josh Walker’s shot was saved conmfortably by James McKeown.
There was nothing he – nor any goalkeeper, in fact, nor any thing – could have done about what followed.
When Walker’s 20th-minute corner was headed well clear by Shaun Pearson, any danger was as unclear as it was seemingly absent. And that had nothing to do with the dying of the light. But from fully 30 yards, right of centre, Turnbull (pictured above) connected with such precise, unwavering technique that his flat, fly-by of a volley screamed into the top corner, and swept the breath away.
Bang in form, James Brown then prodded wide after a swashbuckling run, and saw another hooked effort deflected behind before Tait headed wide and, later, Walker dipped a half-volley over.
By then, however, the Mariners were back in it. On 25 minutes, the flight of Joe Colbeck’s cross from the right corner flag beat Adam Bartlett, and Liam Hearn stooped to nod in.
Now, Grimsby grabbed the upper hand. Colbeck thrice went close, and following a 30-minute interval of confusion, doubt and good humour – “Get the spinners on,” joked one cricket fan – Paddy McLaughlin fired well over and Lenell John-Lewis twice shot wide.
In between time then later, Turnbull sliced wide on both sides, Tait shot over and Marcus Maddison tested McKeown.
But on 72 minutes McLaughlin’s looping cross following a short corner with Scott Kerr was headed in by a towering Chris Doig, and the lights went out on Gateshead.
GATESHEAD: Bartlett, Magnay, Tait, Clark, O’Brien, Chandler (Maddison 76), Walker, Turnbull, Brown, Boyes (Larkin 65), Brodie. Subs (not used): Cummins, Nixon, Baxter.
Booked: Magnay. Goal: Turnbull 20.
GRIMSBY: McKeown, Bignot, Pearson, Doig, Thomas, Disley, Kerr, McLaughlin, Colbeck, John-Lewis, Hearn (Southwell 90). Subs (not used): Cook, McDonald, Thanoj, Rodman.
Booked: Pearson, Bignot. Goals: Hearn 25, Doig 72.
Attendance: 944 Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).