Ed Painter reports:
The Robins will be hoping that home advantage proves to be the difference on Tuesday evening as they face Gateshead in the replay of their Emirates FA Cup first round tie.
After a dramatic late comeback against their Vanarama National League North opponents, Phil Parkinson’s side put in an impressive performance to claim a point against Boreham Wood, who were top of the table at the time.
Jamal Fyfield put the visitors ahead just shy of the hour, finishing past the returning Tony Thompson, taking advantage of a fortuitous deflection before pulling the trigger.
But the Robins were well in the game, and, in the 75th minute, they drew level. Great play from Ryan Colclough and Matty Kosylo allowed Josh Hancock the chance to blast his shot across the face of goal from 18 yards out, scoring past the league’s meanest defence.
Alty looked the more likely to score in the closing stages, with substitute Danny Whitehead volleying over from the edge of the penalty area before Tom Peers saw his shot well saved by Taye Ashby-Hammond.
But neither side were able to make that all-important breakthrough, with the Robins more than matching their promotion-chasing rivals all over the pitch.
You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below.
Following that result, the Robins dropped to 12th in the Vanarama National League table, six points behind Dagenham & Redbridge in the final play-off place, having played one less game than Daryl McMahon’s Daggers.
Gateshead and Altrincham last met only nine days ago at the Gateshead International Stadium in a game that proved exactly why you don’t stop playing until the final whistle, with late goals from Marcus Dinanga and Jake Moult securing tonight's replay.
Following a goalless first half, the hosts took the lead within five minutes of the restart with a low, driven finish from the edge of the area by former Newcastle United striker Adam Campbell.
Cedwyn Scott should have doubled the hosts' lead just before the hour-mark, but he was denied by a fine save from Matt Gould. However, captain Greg Olley’s free-kick evaded everyone to put Mike Williamson's side in control with 10 minutes left.
Substitute Dinanga gave the Robins some hope of mounting a comeback in the 84th minute, controlling Kosylo’s cross into the area before firing home from the edge of the six-yard box.
And with only seconds remaining, skipper Moult scrambled the ball home after a hopeful cross into the area, making the score 2-2 and taking the game to a replay.
You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below
Saturday’s hosts came perilously close to financial ruin in 2019, with many wondering whether the club would be able to survive. However, under new ownership, they have steadied the ship and will now have their sights trained on returning to step 1 of the non-League system.
Founded in 1977 as members of the Northern Premier League, the Heed have played their football in the National League North since their demotion from the level above at the end of the 2018/19 season. Yet to be able to complete a full season, they remain on course for an impressive finish this time around, with the play-off places well within their grasp.
After 10 games, Gateshead have a record of six wins, two draws and two losses to leave them ninth in the table, one point behind Boston United, in seventh, but having played three fewer games than their promotion rivals.
Alongside their impressive league form, the Heed have also looked just as good in the FA Cup after entering at the second qualifying round stage.
Breezing past Bradford (Park Avenue) before a much closer contest against Runcorn Linnets, Gateshead were pushed all the way in the fourth qualifying round by Northern Premier League Division One East side Marske United, battling to a 0-0 draw at Mount Pleasant before returning home and seeing off their plucky opponents with a 3-2 win.
This was then followed by a 2-2 draw against Alty at the Gateshead International Stadium in the first round proper.
Gateshead play their football at the Gateshead International Stadium, an all-seater venue which also hosts Gateshead Harriers (Athletics), Gateshead Senators (American Football) and Gateshead Thunder (Rugby League). The stadium was opened in 1955 and currently has a capacity of 11,800.
In their last match against Alfreton Town, Greg Olley's last-gasp goal completed the comeback as Gateshead came from a goal down to win 2-1 at the International Stadium.
Dayle Southwell had given the Reds a 24th-minute lead with a superb finish after controlling Matt Rhead's flick-on, an advantage they held until 15 minutes from time.
Former Hebburn Town and Carlisle United attacker Cedwyn Scott levelled the score with 15 minutes left, capitalising on a defensive error to turn Macaulay Langstaff’s cross home from the centre of the box.
The visitors had a glorious chance to extend their unbeaten run to seven when Elliott Reeves got his head to Southwell’s cross, only to guide his header over from close range.
However, seconds before the final whistle, home captain Olley took advantage of hesitancy in the Alfreton box to boost the Heed’s play-off hopes, curling the ball home from 20 yards beyond the fingertips of the visiting ‘keeper.
Gateshead are coached by former Wycombe Wanderers and Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson, who was appointed as a player/manager on January 14th, 2019, after initially signing as a player five months earlier.
As a player, Williamson burst onto the scene with Torquay United in 2001, before being snapped up by Southampton the same year. However, he didn’t make an appearance for the Saints and after several loan moves, he joined Wycombe in 2005.
His form at Adams Park attracted the attention of many, with Watford winning the race for his signature after four successful seasons with the Chairboys. However, a short spell at Vicarage Road, followed by an even shorter spell with Portsmouth, eventually saw the big defender signing with Newcastle in 2010.
During his time with the Magpies, he developed a hero status among the supporters, forming a reliable partnership at the back with Fabricio Coloccini to help the club return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Towards the latter stages of his playing career, injuries troubled the current Gateshead manager. Not only was his time in the North-East cut short by injuries, subsequent spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Oxford United fell the same way, all before he joined up with the Heed.
This is Williamson’s first role in management, having replaced Dave Dickson in the hot seat at the Gateshead International Stadium. Since assuming the role, he has impressed many, taking his side to within two points of the National League North play-offs last season, before the campaign was abandoned due to the global pandemic.
A lot of work has also gone into rebuilding this squad and Williamson’s record of bringing talented young players into the fold has played a big part.
Goalkeeper Jacob Chapman and defender Matty Jacob have joined the club on loan from Huddersfield Town and Hull City respectively, while the strike partnership of Cedwyn Scott and Macaulay Langstaff is among the best in the league.
Last five league games
Altrincham: LLLDD (F7 A10)
Gateshead: DWLDW (F7 A7)
What are they saying?
Gateshead boss Williamson spoke after their 2-1 comeback win against Alfreton.
NB: Don't forget, this game is now all-ticket. There will be NO facility for paying at the gate on the night. You can buy your match tickets by following the link below.
Listen to the game Live on Radio Robins
You can listen to live commentary on Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery.
The broadcast starts at 7.30pm
The match commentary sponsor is Radio Alty
The commentary team is Brian Flynn and Luke Edwards
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our Match Centre on the club website
2) Download and install the Mixlr app on Android devices from the Google Play Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
3) Download and install the Mixlr app on Apple devices from the Apple Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
Other ways to follow the game
Not coming to The J. Davidson Stadium on Tuesday? You can also keep up to date via the following ways.
Match Centre: https://bit.ly/3HkSA4m
*Dan's the man .. Alty are level for a second time as Dan Mooney fires home from a tight angle. Picture by Jonathan Moore.
John Edwards reports on Altrincham 2 Gateshead 3
Altrincham were left to rue a missed opportunity after clawing their way back on to level terms with a late Dan Mooney goal only to let the tantalising prospect of an Emirates FA Cup second round place on live national television slip through their fingers in stoppage time.
Alty needed to be somewhere near their best to see off a determined, well-drilled Gateshead side in Tuesday night’s replay at The J.Davidson Stadium and land a lucrative home tie with Charlton Athletic in round two.
Phil Parkinson and Neil Sorvel knew as much. Something close to the level that ended Boreham Wood’s brief reign at the top of the Vanarama National League 72 hours earlier was the requirement if talk of a £60,000 pay day was to become a reality.
Instead, they turned in one of the worst performances of the Parkinson era, inexplicably flat, listless and disjointed in all departments against National League opponents who forced the pace for much of the evening and went through after cashing in - in every sense of the phrase - on a defensive lapse in added time.
The warning signs were there from the first whistle, with Gateshead starting on the front foot and pressing for a way through, even if it was Alty who produced the first real moment of attacking quality in the sixth minute.
Josh Hancock, Matty Kosylo and Jake Moult all featured in a slick passing sequence on the right, and when the ball was switched to the left, it gave Ryan Colclough the chance to breeze past his marker and spread panic in the Gateshead defence with a low cross that led to Hancock having a shot blocked and Adam Porter firing narrowly over.
What a fleeting glimpse of Alty at their free-flowing best that proved to be, as Gateshead dominated the first half and posed more problems than Boreham Wood managed in the entire 90 minutes on Saturday.
Macaulay Langstaff forced a diving save from Tony Thompson after turning and hitting a crisp snap-shot from 25 yards in the 11th minute, and there were more concerns for the Robins when the Gateshead forward put his side in front 10 minutes later.
Adam Campbell retrieved the ball from the left, after a corner from the opposite flank had been flicked on, and when Alty’s defence failed to clear the striker’s deep cross, Langstaff seized on the chance to open the scoring with a close-range volley into the corner of the net.
There could be few complaints in the Alty camp after such a misfiring start, and it was perhaps no surprise that when they drew level on the half-hour, it wasn’t so much their own doing as courtesy of a goalkeeping blunder of spectacular proportions.
Under no pressure whatsoever and presumably looking to pick out a team-mate with a right-footed clearance, Jacob Chapman succeeded only in miskicking the ball straight to Tom Peers, who promptly set up Hancock for a routine finish into an empty net.
Gateshead had been quicker, sharper and more switched on throughout the first 45 minutes, and while Alty belatedly began showing signs of picking up the pace at the start of the second half, it came as no real surprise when the visitors went ahead for a second time.
It was a move out of nowhere in the 56th minute, and there seemed to be little on for Dan Ward, but there could be no faulting the midfielder’s finish as he turned and hit a left-foot shot across Thompson’s dive and just inside the right post.
Alty should have been level again just two minutes later when Colclough skipped past his marker on the left and delivered a low cross that picked out Kosylo, who should have done better but paid the price for leaning back as he volleyed over from a great position.
Alty were at least persevering, if not exactly impressing, and they threatened again in the 67th minute, when Mooney stretched to pull down an excellent through ball from fellow-substitute Danny Whitehead, only to pass up the chance of a shot, admittedly from a tight angle, in favour of a failed attempt to pick out Marcus Dinanga in the middle.
Perhaps sensing he took the wrong option, Mooney chose differently when confronted with a similarly-challenging angle on the right in the 79th minute. The livewire looked up for an instant, after wriggling his way along the bye-line, before firing a shot unerringly past Chapman to haul his side level for a second time.
An extra 30 minutes surely beckoned, but Gateshead had other ideas and settled it as the first of four added minutes ticked by, Langstaff steadying himself after a misjudgement at the back and hitting a right-foot shot into the top corner of the Alty net.
As the reality hit home that the chance of adding more FA Cup heroics to the Alty collection had been lost, one player after another sank to his knees. A bitter pill to swallow, and, after four defeats and two draws since the Cup win at Southport a month ago, a positive response is needed more than ever at Weymouth on Saturday.