Scott Laird joined Stevenage in January 2008 from Plymouth Argyle
Gateshead's hopes of avoiding the drop suffered a huge blow after Scott Laird's penalty sealed the points for Blue Square Premier winners Stevenage.
The Boro defender sent keeper Paul Farman the wrong way following Wayne Phillips's inexplicable handball.
The home side came close in the second half with Daryl Clare's hooked shot hitting the crossbar and a Phil Turnbull header flashing inches wide.
A defeat by AFC Wimbledon on Saturday will now seal Gateshead's relegation.
Boro made seven changes from the side that won the Blue Square Premier title on Saturday with victory over Kidderminster.
But it was the Tyneside club who looked most lively early on, with Clare turning his marker and rifling a shot that keeper Ashley Bayes did well to keep hold of.
The early promise soon gave way to dismay however, when Phillips handled a cross in the area and Laird coolly wrong-footed keeper Farman from the spot.
A stunning save from Farman then denied Andrew Drury's curling effort as Stevenage began to up the ante, and the same player also had a close-range shot blocked by the back of Chris Swailes.
Gateshead's best chances fell to Clare, who first saw a fantastic right-footed shot hit the bar, and then failed to divert Phillips' cross-cum-shot with the goal at his mercy.
Turnbull's late header almost snatched a point for Gateshead, but it flashed agonisingly wide meaning Saturday's visit of the Dons is crucial if The Heed want to avoid relegation after just one season back in non league's top flight.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.