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Sun Dec 6
14:00

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Long Crendon Ladies (A)
Sun Dec 6 14:00
Thames Valley Counties Women's Football League
1st
18pts

Try again next Tyne

| League
Att: 642
Gateshead
Harkus (11, 19 pen)
2 - 1
Slough Town
West (30)
Ansil Bushay
Lucky Gateshead registered their fifth win out of six as they wiped out 90 minutes of sheer effort from their southern visitors on Saturday. Two first half defensive blunders proved the only blots on an otherwise pristine Slough copybook as they surprised their hosts and delighted both travelling and exiled North East fans by controlling the flow of play.

However, an exciting and pacy contest quickly became little more than a scramble to see which of two wide open defenccs would leak the most. Almost inevitably, it was the Rebels who took the wooden spoon, dwarfed in part by the vast, three-quarters empty, International Stadium and by their own relentless ambition which often left them with little cover on the break.

Mark Fiore's relegation to the substitutes' bench was the only major change for the visitors, though he was called back into play on just seven minutes after Mark Pye hobbled off following a collision.

Ansil Bushay had, one minute earlier, drawn derision from home fans after hesitating too long on an excellent far post opportunity following Neil Catlin's run into the box, narrowing the angle so far that he could only hit the side netting.

As usual, it was to come back to haunt him, in this case just five minutes later when the Tynesiders took the lead. It was nothing to do with Bushay, however, with Chris Honor the culprit, holding onto the ball for what seemed like an eon as Cramman bore down on him in the corner. The midfielder nicked it from Honor's foot, squared it just inside the byline and saw Harkus volley past a helpless Preddie from just outside the six-yard box. A totally needless mistake, but one that seems to he fast becoming a trademark of the Slough back-line.

Gateshead were never in any hurry to put the Rebels under pressure, though they played some fluent football when they did break. As a consequence, Slough dictated the shape of the game without ever having the time on the ball they required, and they struggled for chances early-on.

The Tynesiders created all their best opportunities within the first half-hour and finished their scoring in the 19th minute. Trott commanded the full attention of both Baron and Harvey as he stole along the left touchline, but got round them twice and hit two rapid shots against Preddie. The second one broke to the edge of the area, and as Ord stormed in to provide the finishing touch, Garfield Blackman appeared to clip him. Harkus put the penalty high beyond Preddie's reach.

Things looked bleak, but Gateshead's defence came to the Rebels' rescue on the half-hour. They were to prove shakier than the visitors and were frequently far too loose on marking. Fiore's 25-yard shot should have been held by veteran 'keeper Sherwood, but squirmed from his hands. West was the first and only player to react, and needed no invitation when shown the unguarded net.

Bushay stretched Sherwood to his fingertips on 38 minutes after marker Wrightson's slip let him through, but a policy of bombarding the ageing 'keeper with shots might have been more successful than the patience Slough showed.

The second half was to he a moral victory at least for the Rebels, and any judge would have given them the contest on points.
That they did not score was their only fault - they kept Gateshead strangely silent at one end whilst conjuring up a number of chances at the other.

Baron got on the end of Fiore's 49th minute corner, though Watson did well to head off the line, while Blackman found West in a similar position only for his header to be caught by Sherwood. Only Preddie's antics ever put the defence in jeopardy, with his miskick under pressure from Harkus almost finding his own net and also conning close to being caught out from Cramman's lob. Full credit for a flying parry from Harkus, however.

Bushay, meanwhile, poured scorn on calls for his removal by proving a constant menace. His main problem is Ross Pickett,. who was given a paltry 10 minutes to impress in time for the Plymouth .game but carved out a possible hat-trick in that time - one weak finish wide of the post, one lucky break when Sherwood whacked the ball off his back and almost into the net, and one goalbound header which Sherwood fumbled desperately.

Even one Gateshead official was forced to concede that if his side could play as well as this away from home, he "would be absolutely delighted". Slough, he conceded, were the best side he had seen all season. So a defeat - especially when they had come so far and toiled so much - was hard lines. But, as they probably don't say up here, you get nowt for hard lines.

Gateshead Line up

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