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Gateshead 0-0 Darlington (agg 2-3)

Matt Newsum at the International Stadium
FA Trophy semi-final second leg

Liam Hatch
Hatch is a former England C international

Darlington booked a first Wembley final in 11 years with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Gateshead in their FA Trophy semi-final.

The Quakers ground out a goalless draw at the International Stadium to follow up their win at the Arena last weekend.

Liam Hatch had the best chance of the game for Darlington, when his header crashed back off the crossbar.

Gateshead failed to match their first-leg efforts, with a late attempt from Nathan Fisher the closest they came.

Darlington's last final came in the Division Three play-offs in 2000, when Andy Clarke's goal for Peterborough was the difference at the old Wembley.

With a 3-2 deficit to overturn from the first leg, it was Gateshead who made the brighter start, winning a flurry of corners.

However Darlington soaked up the early pressure, and enjoyed the best of the first-half chances.

Striker Liam Hatch smashed a volley off the back of Gateshead centre-back James Curtis, and then crashed a header off the crossbar from Aaron Brown's free-kick, with Dan Burn unable to react to the rebound.

Credit to the players they defended magnificently and you need to do that if you want to get to Wembley

Darlington boss Mark Cooper

The home side dominated the possession count, but other than Adam Rundle's slalom run and shot off the left flank, and a later cross-shot from the same player that narrowly missed the forehead of Jon Shaw, Sam Russell in the Quakers goal was largely untested.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson had the opportunity to extend Darlington's overall lead when he went close with a fizzing free-kick just before half-time.

The second half began in similar vein, with a seemingly overawed Gateshead struggling to find a rhythm.

Gary Smith drilled a volley wide when put in on the left of the box, an early sign of things to come for Darlington.

Frustrations showed when Shaw and Fisher combined for Ian Bogie's side, but the former was unable to find the required pass to put his colleague in on goal.

Miller then made a crucial intervention on Gateshead's Jon Shaw, after Jamie Chandler's missed interception let the former Sheffield Wednesday forward in on goal.

Liam Hatch should have doubled the Quakers' lead when Paul Arnison measured a cut-back into his path, but the striker's finish flew over the bar for a corner, which the target man could only head wide.

Gateshead's tension was demonstrated by some ragged passing and niggly fouls, while Craig Nelthorpe failed to deliver a teasing cross when put into a good position down the left-hand side.

Four minutes of injury time seemed to rouse the hosts from their slumber, and Darlington had the alert Russell to thank for saving Fisher's half-chance from Shaw's flick-on, and hand the 2,449 visiting fans a moment to savour.

Darlington boss Mark Cooper told BBC Tees:

"I didn't enjoy one minute of it, I think I knew it was going to be like that.

"The longer it goes the more tense it gets, but the second-half I thought we were comfortable, and played the game mostly in their half.

"We needed a goal to kill it, we didn't get it, but credit to the players they defended magnificently and you need to do that if you want to get to Wembley."

Gateshead boss Ian Bogie told BBC Newcastle:

"The damage was done in a mad half-an-hour last Saturday, and that's what cost us a place at Wembley.

"Today we had the bit between our teeth in the first-half, we were the dominant side, there was only one team looking to push on and score.

"We had massive possession in the first-half without really creating any clear cut chances, but in the second-half they've run the clock down, and I'm disappointed."

Gateshead: Deasy, Tavernier, Curtis, Clark, Liddle, Brittain (Marwood 78), Gate, Turnbull, Rundle (Nelthorpe 69), Shaw, Fisher.
Subs not used: Farman, Offiong, Jones.

Booked: Curtis.

Darlington: Russell, Burn, Miller, Arnison, Brown, Gary Smith, Chandler, Verma, Hatch, Bridge-Wilkinson, Campbell (Modest 54).
Subs not used: St Louis-Hamilton, Gray, Wright, Senior.

Attendance: 5,156.

Referee: Mark Heywood (Northwich).

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see also
Darlington 3-2 Gateshead
12 Mar 11 |  Non League
BBC Non-League Show
21 Jul 08 |  Non League

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