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6 April 2013

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Heavy defeat at Carlisle for the Hatters

In front of the lowest crowd to watch a game in their history the Town slipped to their heaviest defeat in the Blue Square Bet Premier as Gateshead ran riot at Carlisle's Brunton Park.

Just 382 spectators – which included 126 shouting for the Town – watched on as the Tynesiders scored five times.

They were 3-1 up at the break thanks to two goals from Josh Gillies and one from Ryan Donaldson.

Dan Walker had pulled one back for the Town to make it 2-1 – connecting well with Dave Martin's left-wing cross - but second half goals from Donaldson and a late volley from Liam Hatch sealed an emphatic victory for the Tynesiders.

In Still's absence, the Town began showing five changes to the side that lost 2-1 at home to Kidderminster on Easter Monday. There was a change in goal with Dean Brill replacing the injured Mark Tyler, whilst there were starts for Jonathan Smith, Walker, Andre Gray and Alex Wall. Former Gateshead striker Jon Shaw had to be content with a place on the bench.

The Town came close to taking the lead as early as the third minute when a swift counter-attack led to Walker finding space to blast a shot goalwards that was blocked by a home defender. Martin won a corner seconds later that Solomon Taiwo bent towards Gray at the back post and his shot from an acute angle was turned away by goalkeeper Adam Bartlett.

It had the look of a very open game and Gateshead twice came close in the following few minutes.  Donaldson slalomed through the Town defence but his low shot was well blocked by Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

Gateshead were well on top and, after Gillies drifted in from the left to shoot just wide on 10 minutes, they took the lead two minutes later. There seemed nothing on when Donaldson let fly from the edge of the box but the striker's low shot was low and accurate enough to beat Brill.

It was all the hosts and, as the Hatters failed to get to grips with Tynesiders' pass and move, five minutes later the Heed doubled their advantage. Gillies received the ball down the left, cut inside the penalty box unchallenged and had time to plant a low shot beyond Brill.

Gateshead were threatening to run riot as the Town allowed them time and space to play football on the big Brunton Park pitch. James Brown dragged a shot wide on 18 minutes before Donaldson spurned a decent chance to score his second and the Tynesider's third on 25 minutes when Gillies has unlocked the Hatters defence.

The Hatters were creating little themselves and on 28 minutes battling centre-forward play from ex-Town loanee Liam Hatch almost created an opportunity for the hosts when feeding Brown to test Brill when running from deep only - for the keeper to read the situation well and snuff out the danger.

However, 10 minutes before the break the Town reduced the deficit when Dave Martin's superb left-wing cross was fired home first-time by the left foot of Walker from six yards.

Two minutes later Brown tested Brill's reactions with an overhead kick from close range but, on the stroke of half-time, the Heed did make it 3-1 from the penalty spot. Brown weaved past Jake Goodman but the striker was then brought down by Steve McNulty just inside the box and up stepped Gillies to blast home past Brill giving the goalkeeper no chance from 12 yards.

The Hatters made a change at the break, Matt Robinson replacing Taiwo, and seconds after the restart Martin wasn't far away with an ambitious shot from 25 yards that bounced half-a-yard wide.

Back came the Heed and the Town were indebted to a stupendous save from Brill to keep out Brown's shot from five yards after Gillies had raced into the box on 47 minutes.

However, Wall should have made it 3-2 two minutes later when he was unable to get enough purchase on a shot from close range following an inch-perfect right-wing cross from Gray.

Wall blazed over a minute later from distance when seizing on a loose pass out of defence by Carl Magnay.

The Town were looking a much better side since the half-time break and Martin saw a shot cleared off the line on 52 minutes as the visitors pressed for a way back into the game.

Jonathan Smith's deflected shot tested home goalkeeper Bartlett just after the hour before Brill made another excellent save when turning a Donaldson shot around the post after fine work from Brown down the left.

The Heed continued to press and the home side made it 4-1 on 66 minutes. Micky Cummins broke up play in the centre circle and fed Brown whose defence-splitting pass got Donaldson through and, after beating Jake Goodman for pace, fired past Brill for his second goal of the game.

Gillies shot wide with 10 minutes to go and as the Tynesiders continued to hunt a fifth Donaldson, Brown and Hatch all came close.

But just when it seemed the hosts would settle for four, Hatch had other ideas when his fine left-foot volley from the edge of the penalty area beat Brill to make it 5-1. And that was that.

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