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Heed Trophy performance like chalk and cheese for Aspin

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Gateshead manager Neil Aspin likened his side’s performances either side of the break to “chalk and cheese” as the Tynesiders overcame Stocksbridge Park Steels in the First Round of the FA Trophy.

The eighth-tier Steels took a shock lead after just six minutes at the International Stadium, Scott Ruthven finding the near corner of the net following a burst into the 18-yard box.

They should have doubled their advantage midway through the first-half, with Sam Russell producing a superb stop to turn Rory Coleman’s close-range strike onto the bar.

However, Nathan Buddle restored parity just before the interval, and the Tynesiders cruised to victory in the second-half with Ryan Bowman, Gus Mafuta and Danny Johnson on target.

The Heed will travel to Vanarama National League rivals Eastleigh in the Second Round, the Spitfires having seen off Aldershot Town on Saturday.

Aspin was critical of his side’s first-half display, but was encouraged by their showing following the restart.

He said: “It was like chalk and cheese.

“I thought the first 20 minutes were unacceptable. We didn’t apply anywhere near enough pressure on Stocksbridge when they had the ball.

“We made mistakes, our decision-making was poor – leading to their goal, as well as another big chance – while in possession ourselves, we repeatedly gave the ball away.

“A lot of questions had to be asked of the players at half-time, because they needed to buck their ideas up. And fortunately, they did.

“We scored four goals, and we could have scored more. We created chances, our passing improved, we pushed our full-backs forward and got some good deliveries into the box. We were a lot better.

“I have to say though, that I do feel for the opposition. They’ve lost a player to a broken ankle – not through anyone’s fault. With the results they’ve had, they’ve been a credit to the competition.

“As I have said, it’s a competition we are taking seriously. We want to progress as far as we can.

“We have one of the hardest ties possible in the Second Round, but you have to take what you get, and with Gateshead’s away form, there is no need to be fearful.”

The Heed lost another two players to injury last night, Simon Ramsden pulling up during the warm-up, and Russell failing to return for the second-half.

Aspin revealed the latter had sustained a back injury, the boss currently unsure of both players’ participation on Saturday, when Woking visit the International Stadium.

Source: www.gateshead-fc.com

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