Report by Joe Edgar
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Gateshead 0 Altrincham 2
An immaculate team performance from Altrincham saw them leave Gateshead with all three points after a very impressive 2-0 win.
Second half goals from Justin Amaluzor and Justin Donawa secured the win for Alty, making it five victories in a row for the Robins, who are now fourth in the Vanarama National League.
With Gateshead sitting in fourth at the outset and Altrincham in sixth, a very exciting game was promised. The two teams are renowned for playing an attractive style of football, wanting to attack at any given opportunity, so lots of chances and goals were guaranteed.
In less than a minute, the match began providing the entertainment which was promised to the fans. A fast start from Altrincham saw Eddy Jones with the ball on the left touchline in the Gateshead half, and he played a wicked ball across the Gateshead penalty area.
It came all the way through the box, but a last-ditch challenge from Joe Grayson prevented Lewis Banks giving the away side the lead. There were some appeals for a penalty, but nothing was given by the referee.
Another early chance came only minutes later for Altrincham. Amaluzor used his fine technical ability to break through the Gateshead midfield, before sliding a pass in behind their defence. Isaac Marriott ran on to the pass and fired an effort towards goal, however, his shot was wayward and flew over the bar.
It was a challenging day for the game’s referee, Paul Marsden, as he had a lot of very difficult decisions to make in a very short period of the game.
As mentioned above, Alty had an early penalty shout rejected, and on the 10-minute mark, Gateshead were also heavily appealing for a penalty. A tangle between players after a long throw saw multiple Gateshead players on the floor, but the referee didn’t see enough to point to the spot.
Later in the half, two reckless challenges from Connor McBride and Amaluzor saw either side appealing for a red card, but, on both instances, a yellow was shown. With 33 minutes gone, to top off a difficult afternoon, Marsden was then replaced by the fourth official after picking up an injury.
Throughout the first half, both teams were finding themselves in dangerous positions, but the best chance in the opening 45 minutes fell Gateshead’s way. A low cross was drilled into Altrincham’s six-yard box, where Ed Francis was unmarked.
He cleverly flicked the ball towards goal, but Ethan Ross denied him as he tipped the ball on to the bar with an exceptional reaction save. The teams went into the break level at 0-0.
Similar to the first half, Altrincham started the second period much quicker than their opposition, but this time they made their early domination count.
Chris Conn-Clarke knocked Regan Booty off the ball by the halfway line and began driving forward. He then played a perfectly-weighted pass in behind the Gateshead backline to Amaluzor, who rounded off the devasting counter-attack by slotting the ball into the bottom left corner.
As is often the case in football, the opening goal encouraged even more attacking play – even with both sides being extremely positive already. Ross was called into action regularly in the second half to prevent efforts from the edge of the area, but Gateshead couldn’t break through Altrincham’s solid defence to create any significant chances.
Down at the other end, however, Alty utilised their devastating counter-attacking abilities to create a plethora of chances. Conn-Clarke nearly caught out Archie Mair from a very tight angle before Alex Newby tested the Gateshead goalkeeper with a powerful low shot from the edge of the area.
However, just as Gateshead were becoming more desperate in their search for an equalizer, Altrincham managed to double their lead, sending the travelling fans into frenzy.
Quick thinking and a quick free-kick allowed Dior Angus and Donawa to break against a solitary Gateshead defender. Angus beat the man and had a shot saved by Mair, but the rebound fell perfectly to Donawa, who tapped the ball into an empty net.
The second goal eased all tension among those involved with Altrincham, and it rounded off, arguably, this season’s best performance by the Robins. Phil Parkinson manufactured a flawless gameplan, and every single player performed magnificently in order to claim a memorable victory.