Gateshead 2, Alfreton Town 1
Alfreton Town fell at the third round hurdle of the FA Trophy for the second season in succession when they failed to hold on to an early lead at Gateshead on Tuesday night.
It was a case of third time unlucky for the Reds after the tie, originally scheduled for 4th February, had twice fallen foul of the freezing weather and it is Gateshead that now travel to face Luton Town in the quarter-finals.
Both sides had early chances on Tyneside with Eddie Odhiambo’s by-line cross needing a clearance by Greg Young before Darran Kempson’s header from Alfreton’s first corner was scrambled off the line.
The Reds, playing with three recognised strikers, took the initiative in the sixth minute from a neat move instigated by Nathan Jarman who sent Anthony Wilson to the right-hand by-line.
Wilson’s cross was just about to be hooked in by Anton Brown, who may well still have managed a touch, but Odhiambo lunged in to divert the ball past his own keeper Sam Deasy via the upright.
Dan Lowson made the first of a series of good saves in the ninth minute when he stretched to tip over Yemi Odubade’s stinging free-kick, then Jon Shaw’s header was blocked by Young.
Another neat Alfreton move on 19 minutes saw Josh Law take a return pass from Jarman, but his precision cross was headed on to the roof of the net by Anthony Wilson from six yards.
And the Reds almost paid immediately for that miss as Gateshead’s top scorer Shaw shaved the outside of the post from a Josh Gillies’ cross.
James Curtis looped a header on to the top of the net as the hosts cranked up the pressure in search of an equaliser, then Phil Turnbull’s strong low drive was held comfortably by Lowson.
Paul Clayton lost his footing in the 30th minute as he tried to volley home a return pass from Jarman, then back at the other end Lowson saved well from Gillies.
A magnificent save by Lowson denied Micky Cummins four minutes later, the keeper pushing the ball on to the post at full stretch before gathering the rebound, but Gateshead were back on level terms by the 38th minute thanks to another contentious penalty decision.
Reds’ skipper Young protested long and hard and ultimately in vain after he and Odubade had challenged as Gillies played the ball through, but the spot-kick had been awarded and Shaw gave Lowson no chance by steering low to his right hand corner.
There was one further opportunity in the first half that saw Jarman scuff his shot wide from the edge of the area after good work by Clayton, then seven minutes after the interval Brown fired well over from distance.
Gateshead completed the scoring in the 57th minute after Kempson had tracked Gillies all the way down the left before conceding a corner, which Odubade took and Curtis powered home a header from six yards.
Jarman’s inswinging corner needed an alert save from Deasy in the 64th minute, then eight minutes later Alfreton were denied the completion of a promising move by Turnbull’s cynical foul on Nathan Arnold.
The Reds’ sub had sprinted away from the halfway line with Jarman clear to his left when Turnbull tripped him from behind, but with covering defenders and the distance from goal the referee could only yield a yellow card after being surrounded by Alfreton protesters.
Chris Moore should have wrapped up the tie with 13 minutes to go but fluffed an easy chance on the break for the Heed, then Odubade fired over after a strong run.
The Reds kept plugging away without producing anything decisive, and Arnold wasted a central free-kick from 20 yards with a woeful shot, but it was Lowson who once again denied Odubade in the 87th minute by sticking out a leg to divert his shot behind.
Alfreton: Lowson; Law (Moult 66), Kempson, Young, Franklin, Streete, M.Wilson, Brown, Clayton (Mullan 84), A.Wilson (Arnold 69), Jarman. Unused subs: Hall, Clay.