Lambs fail to build on good first half and concede late equaliser
18 August 2009
Gary Mills was forced to make a change to the side that had defeated Grays on Saturday with the news that Michael Wylde would be out for 4-6 weeks and require an operation to repair damaged ligaments sustained in a tackle at the weekend. Michael Blackwood was also unavailable for selection due to a family illness calling him back to Jamaica and the club sends its best wishes with him.
So, Des Lyttle came into the starting line up and Gavin Hurren took a spot on the bench alongside ‘the gaffer’ for the match between the two promoted Conference North teams. The Lambs were looking to continue their good form, while Gateshead were hoping for a result similar to the last one between the two sides at the International Stadium which looked to have dented Tamworth’s title aspirations last season, but ultimately proved spur them on to bigger and better things.
Gateshead kicked off the game but a long ball from Briscoe inside the first minute found Wright just offside as he ran through at the keeper.
Richardson did beat the flag for the home side on 3 only to put his low right winged cross into the arms of an untroubled Alcock who left his area by some distance on 5 to put the ball back into the Gateshead half and from it Wright played a neat one two, but was beaten to the ball to win a corner. Tamworth moved the ball around quickly but Pritchard’s final ball along the floor to Wright caught him a yard offside as he got his shot away into the side netting from the right of the area.
Gate put a header behind off a Lambs defender for a corner from Mackay’s cross and from the dead ball Swailes headed the ball wide of the left hand upright.
The Lambs movement going forward was even impressing the local Radio Newcastle presenter with Tait getting in on the action on 9 only to see his left wing ball cleared by the head of Swailes.
Wright almost found Rodman on 10 while Brittain almost found Mackay as the home side broke from their clearance. Pritchard chased down his own block on the left of the area a minute later, but couldn’t get a cross on target as play continued to switch ends although The Lambs looked much the more comfortable on the ball and were enjoying a lion’s share of possession.
Rodman won a corner on the right on 14 which Shaw just missed with his head, in the centre of goal.
Lyttle crossed from the right and Pritchard flicked the header on only for Gateshead to concede another corner on 18 which Rodman got a touch on, but once again the home defence got the boot in just in time to prevent a follow up shot.
Rodman chased down, but was unable to catch a through ball into the area on 20 which keeper Provett booted out in the nick of time.
On 25 Gate forced Alcock to catch the ball with a cheeky flicked header over the Lambs defence but there was no real danger of a goal coming from it and on 27 MacKenzie put a freekick into the area which Smith headed goalward setting up Rodman with a shot on the turn, but it was off target and went wide of the left hand upright.
Tait looked like he had shielded the ball out of play but the linesman awarded a corner, which to be fair was not protested, and Smith bundled the ball behind for a flag kick on the opposite side on 32 but it came to nothing when Mr. Davison spotted an infringement in the box and Alcock restarted the game with a dead ball forward.
Pritchard made space on the left but over hit his cross for MacKenzie and after another good move, Sheridan strayed offside as the through ball came through to him.
But Tamworth pushed on again and Rodman won a corner on 35 only to see it halted when Shaw was adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the area.
Alcock came out to the edge of his area to clear a long ball forward on 37 but it fell short and Briscoe headed it away but as the ball dropped for Richardson Alcock was still a few yards out of his comfort zone. A good block from Smith and a wayward shot denied any chance of the Gateshead player capitalising.
Gateshead took heart from the move and showed some life coming forward with Turnbull and Brittain combining to win a corner which Rodman cleared long and went all the way back to Provett, with Wright chasing.
As the clock ticked towards half time Wright made it 1-0 to The Lambs when Rodman floated over Curtis and dinked the ball over Provett for his first of the season which pleased him, and the travelling Lambs fans somewhat as you can well imagine! (1-0, 42 mins) and the half time whistle blew on a great half for TFC.
Tamworth kicked off the second half but Gateshead started brightly, won the ball and took the it forward only to find The Lambs defence in the way. However they kept hold of it for a good few minutes and frustrated their visitors when not in possession.
Phillips fed Richardson with an inch perfect ball into the left of the area on 50 but Alcock came out and made himself big forcing the forward to shoot quickly and put the ball into the side netting. However, it was a definite wake up call for Tamworth and caused Gary Mills to shout some much needed orders and encouragement from the dugout.
Pritchard played a very intelligent ball along the floor for Wright but he was denied the change to turn at the edge of centre of the box by Curtis.
At the other end Lyttle cleared away a searching right wing cross from Brittain who was substituted less than a minute later.
Rodman surged down the right on 58 and eventually the ball went back via Shaw to Wright who played in Sheridan on the left of the area only to be denied a shot by the covering defender .
A wayward shot from Forsyth did little to trouble anyone except the ball boy behind the hammer nets and a free kick from MacKenzie fell nicely for Wright and Pritchard but a foul stopped the latter shooting for goal.
Sheridan couldn’t quite control his chance to make it 2-0 on 64 as his touch was too strong and floated back to Provett when a less strong knock would have put him one on one on the edge of the area.
Despite just 429 in the crowd there was a lot of noise coming from the main stand at the international arena, with both sets of fans doing their best to out sing each other – not easy when the travelling contingent were outnumbered by about 10 to 1 but they were giving it a very good go as MacKenzie fired in a corner on 69 which the home side cleared but only for a throw on the left.
Rodman escaped punishment after a reactionary handball on the half way line on 72 but one was given on 75 on the edge of the area for something a whole less intentional which Francis lined up from 25 yards slightly to the right of the ‘D’. Alcock made a great save from the low shot and then scooped the ball out as three Gateshead players looked to prod home the rebound which left Briscoe on the floor and requiring treatment (he continued after short time).
Gate picked up a booking for a foul on Wright on 81 and MacKenzie chipped the ball forward, but it was cut out and Gateshead held possession and advanced through Harwood who put a shot on target from 20 yards which Alcock gathered.
As Tamworth worked to get to the final whistle Gateshead pushed forward, won a corner and Gate lashed a right foot shot at goal from 30 yards but put his shot wide of the left hand post.
The home side continued to push on and on 86 Harwood stabbed the ball home from the left of the area after a long throw from Robinson bounced invitingly for the substitute to put through a crowded six yard box. (1-1, 86 mins)
Three minutes added time was show at the end of the game and with it came more home pressure which saw Turnbull try a cross on the left but hit it far too hard and Richardson did the same in the next move.
Nicholson came on for Wright in a last ditch search for a winner with some fresh legs up front but it was not to be and honours were shared.
Alcock, Tait, Smith (capt), MacKenzie, Wright (Nicholson 90), Rodman, Pritchard, Sheridan, Shaw, Lyttle, Briscoe
Subs: Hurren, Mills, Lake-Gaskin, Benjamin
Provett, Baxter (Harwood 79), Robinson, Gate (capt), Curtis, Swailes, Brittain (Forsyth 56), Turnbull, Mackay, Richardson, Phillips (Francis 56)
Subs: Jones, Farman
Referee: Mr. P. Davison (Stockton)