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Darlington 3-2 Gateshead

Matt Newsum at the Arena
FA Trophy semi-final first leg

Liam Hatch
Hatch is a former England C international

Liam Hatch scored two late goals as Darlington came from behind to beat Gateshead in the first leg of their FA Trophy semi-final.

Gateshead's Nathan Fisher opened the scoring with a low drive, before Adam Rundle doubled the advantage.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson pulled a goal back when his shot from a narrow angle bounced in off Carl Jones.

Hatch headed in the equaliser and he then pounced on a missed interception to slide the ball past Paul Farman.

The result extended Darlington's unbeaten run to 10 matches, while Gateshead are now without a victory in four games.

Both sides started slowly but it was the home side who had the first real chance, as Aman Verma swept home Hatch's flick-on after eight minutes, only to see the strike ruled offside.

It's only half-way, we're still in the tie and it's a big game next weekend

Ian Bogie

Gateshead found their rhythm first on a rutted surface and Fisher could have given the Tynesiders the lead but could only find the side netting with his near-post effort.

The visitors kept up their pressure and were rewarded when Darlington failed to clear a long ball into the penalty area on 21 minutes and Fisher found the bottom corner with his low strike.

Ian Bogie's side looked the more composed of the two teams and extended their lead before half-time. Shaw's header from Brittain's in-swinging corner was cleared off the line and Rundle was on hand to volley home from close range.

Mark Cooper's side trooped in looking despondent at the break but returned for the second half looking a different side.

Bridge-Wilkinson began to find space in the centre of midfield and it was the diminutive midfielder who forced Darlington back into the game, when he chased down Hatch's looping pass and steered the ball home via the post and Jones.

Hatch then got his reward for a battling display, when he flicked home Aaron Brown's free-kick to level the scores.

Darlington then took the lead for the first-time in the match when Jones missed his interception, allowing Hatch to latch onto the loose ball and guide it past Farman for an unlikely lead with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

Five minutes of added time made for a pulsating finale, with Darlington surviving a penalty box scramble when Kris Gate failed to get his shot away cleanly and the onrushing Richard Offiong could not find the target.

The second leg takes place at Gateshead's International Stadium on Saturday, 19 March.

Darlington manager Mark Cooper:
"We looked down and out at half time, but the players have got something about them. I wasn't particularly overconfident after the first-half display and the defending.

"We asked them for a response, and we got it.

"We just wanted to keep the tie alive for the second-leg and it's half time and we're 1-0 up, but we're under no illusions, there's a lot to do."

Gateshead manager Ian Bogie:
"I'm stood here now as the away manager bitterly disappointed, and the goals we conceded were bitterly disappointing.

"At 2-0 we should have been comfortable and it should have been 3-0 before half-time but then we conceded, their supporters go right behind them and now at 3-2 they're in the ascendancy.

"But it's only half-way, we're still in the tie and it's a big game next weekend."

Gateshead: Farman, Tavernier, Jones, Clark, Liddle, Brittain (Baxter 85), Turnbull, Gate, (Nelthorpe 71) Shaw (Offiong 73), Fisher.

Subs not used: Ball, Marwood.

Goals: Fisher 21, Rundle 43

Darlington: Russell, Burn, Miller, Arnison, Brown, Gary Smith, Chandler, Verma, Hatch (Wright 86), Bridge-Wilkinson (Main 90), Senior (Modest 55).

Subs Not Used: St Louis-Hamilton, Gray.

Goals: Bridge-Wilkinson 56, Hatch 76, 81

Attendance: 4,243

Referee: Carl Boyeson (East Yorkshire).

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see also
BBC Non-League Show
21 Jul 08 |  Non League

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