Fleetwood Town 3, Gateshead 1
FLEETWOOD Town’s waiting list for the treatment table is at last starting to shorten, and it showed on the field as the returning Shaun Beeley gave an impressive display and striker Andy Mangan scored the stunning opener.
A 50th-minute wonder-goal by substitute Mangan, forced off with hamstring trouble against Darlington over a month ago, set Town on course for victory over a previously unbeaten Tyneside club.
Two late goals from Jamie Vardy, taking his tally to four in two games, sealed a second home win of the season for Micky Mellon’s side before Gateshead replied in the dying seconds.
The Heed came to Highbury as surprise joint-leaders but deprived of the services of the league’s top scorer, Jon Shaw, who injured his foot in training the previous day.
Full-back Beeley made his first start of the season, replacing Danny Holmes in the only change to the team which won at Kettering.
Town went on to the attack immediately, with Stefan Cox drifting a cross beyond the far post after finding space down the left.
Gareth Seddon then rose high to flick a header through to Magno Vieira but the Brazilian was caught marginally offside.
Gateshead’s first shot on target came from Micky Cummins, who struck a low drive straight at Scott Davies in the eighth minute.
Much of the first-half play was concentrated in the middle third of the pitch, with Town unable to dominate.
Visiting right-back Eddie Odhiambo received the first booking after 19 minutes when he brought down Cox.
But Gateshead looked most dangerous down that right channel, with Odubade moving up menacingly from the back.
Gateshead manager had Ian Bogie expressed concern about recent first-half performances and would have been encouraged by his team’s efforts on Saturday.
The first moment of panic in their defence came on 29 minutes, when a shot by Fleetwood skipper Jamie McGuire ricocheted off keeper Paul Farman to Vieira, whose drive from the right was blocked by a sliding Ben Clark.
Mangan replaced the injured Cox on the half hour and was immediately in the action, releasing Beeley with a trademark run down the right. The full-back crossed low for Vardy, whose snap-shot was well saved by Farman.
Town began to press more towards the end of the half, with Mangan looking sharp despite having missed five matches. Perhaps he was too keen as he received a booking for a challenge on James Curtis in the 43rd minute.
Gateshead had the first chance of the second period when Cummins’ strong shot was blocked by Paul Linwood, the 93 travelling supporters for a moment sensing a penalty.
Mellon had changed the formation to 4-3-3 at the break and his side were soon in the lead with a stunning strike from distance.
Mangan set himself up from long-range and hit a screamer from 35 yards which beat Farman comprehensively in front of an ecstatic Memorial Stand. Gateshead came back strongly and soon created a couple of opportunities to equalise.
Chris Moore should have done better with a shot from inside the area that hit the top of the Percy Ronson Stand after Odubade again showed his pace.
Farman raced out of his area to block Seddon’s progress in the 58th minute, with Cod Army fans appealing for a handball by the goalkeeper.
Town pressurised the Gateshead defence, with Beeley coming up at every opportunity.
The increasingly influential Vardy pounced on a loose ball after 65 minutes, firing in a quick cross which Vieira headed narrowly wide at the near post. Although Town had much of the play, Gateshead continued to pose a threat.
Curtis headed over from a corner after 71 minutes but the home defence stood firm, with Rob Atkinson particularly impressive.
Curtis had another opportunity seven minutes later, this one blocked by Davies, before Vardy pounced for the all-important second goal a minute later.
The winger controlled the ball well before beating Farman, then showed his pace again with five minutes remaining to run into the box only for his penalty appeal to fall on deaf ears.
With seconds of normal time remaining, Yemi Odubade struck a free-kick into the top corner of Davies’ net, and a tense finale beckoned for the second successive week as the fourth official indicated four added minutes for the Cod Army in the crowd of 1,388 to endure.
But their nerves were eased when Town broke from a Gateshead free-kick and Brodie unselfishly fed Vardy, who beat the advancing Farman for his second brace in eight days.
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, Atkinson, Linwood, Edwards, Vardy, McGuire, Milligan (Briggs 88), Cox (Mangan 31), Vieira, Seddon (Brodie 73); not used: St Louis-Hamilton,Goodall.
Gateshead: Farman, Odhiambo, Clark, Curtis, Rents, Cummins (Fisher 76), Gate, Turnbull, Odubade, Mulligan, Moore (Gillies 60); not used: Alnwick, Baxter, Carruthers.
Ref: W Barratt (Worcestershire); Att: 1,388