PRUDHOE Town end the first week of the new Wearside League campaign without a point from two games played.
Having lost 5-0 at the weekend to a domineering Darlington Reserves side consisting of many members of the club’s first team, they shipped in three second half goals as they welcomed Gateshead Leam Rangers to Kimberly Park on Wednesday evening.
The contest with Leam was an entertaining end-to-end encounter, but it was the visitors who showed more purpose going forward and added to their point picked up on the opening day.
Prudhoe had their fair share of chances, though, and will be ruing missed opportunities at crucial moments throughout the game.
Up front is where they may struggle this term as they have fielded midfielder Arron Fletcher as a lone striker in their first two games.
They look strong defensively as Mick Rankin ran his centre half partner David Wansell close for Town’s star man on Wednesday, with full backs Niki Shepherd and Kieran Russel ably assisting the pair.
In goalkeeper Liam Blair, they have one of the division’s best shot stoppers and, with midfielders Derek Waters and Michael Calvert providing good cover to the back four, more emphasis on attack would complete the package for Prudhoe.
Gateshead’s star man was undoubtedly left winger James Wood, and he looked likely to win his side the game from the offset as he forced Blair into a good save after three minutes and then put the ball on a plate for striker Micky Young who sent his effort over.
Wood’s deliveries from corners caused Prudhoe problems all night as he curled them into the goalmouth, and it was a set piece directly from the corner flag which gave his side the lead just before the hour.
Fired in at pace and hurtling in on goal, Blair, who had kept his side in the game many times during the game, made a hash of his attempted punch and only got the faintest of touches on to the ball to help it over the line.
The goal spurred Gateshead on and they were denied a second in controversial circumstances when referee Reece Scott ruled out Chris Lowther’s goal for a foul on Shepherd, beating him in the air from two yards to head home after Blair made a good stop from Carl Taylor.
The controversy continued with Prudhoe, who twice came close to levelling through teenage substitute Matty Bloomer, incensed as Rankin’s free kick from halfway hit a one-man wall, the hosts complaining the opponent was less than 10 yards away.
As a result of the deflection, Gateshead gathered and broke at pace with Blair again pulling off a tremendous save to keep out Martin Summersett, only for Lowther to react and beat Wansell to the follow-up and make it 2-0 with five minutes remaining.
There was further agony for Town to endure as they conceded a third in the second minute of injury, Summersett finding the corner of the net with aplomb after Taylor slid in to rob Rankin of possession.
The scoreline was harsh on the hard working hosts who were always in the game up until the hammer blow of conceding the second goal on 85 minutes.
It took them 15 minutes to create their first chance of note when Russel’s header from a corner was saved and Fletcher’s shot on the rebound blocked, but it sparked the team into life.
Withing minutes, a defence splitting pass from Waters sent Fletcher in and he beat goalkeeper James Lone to the ball, only for Leam captain Ben Miller to make a great clearance off the line.
Waters opened his body and sent a ferocious effort just wide and Joe Johnson hit a shot at Lone as the teams turned around goalless.
In the second half, Luke Banks’ first time shot was saved by the feet of Lone while Ste Forster was unable to trouble the goalkeeper when breaking through just seconds after coming off the bench.
After Wood broke the deadlock, Prudhoe had their best chances of the game with Johnson thrashing at a shot from close range to send it over and Bloomer denied by Lone from close range.
It just wasn’t to be for Prudhoe as Bloomer’s ball back across goal squirmed through Lone’s hands but was judged not to have crossed the line.
The fresh legs of front men Taylor and Summersett gave Gateshead added impetus, and the two late goals settled the game in their favour.