Neil Aspin commended his side for a battling performance as Gateshead maintained their interest in this season’s FA Trophy with a goalless draw at FC Halifax Town.

The Vanarama National League rivals will do battle again at the International Stadium on Wednesday night, with a place in the semi-finals of the competition at stake.

With clear-cut chances at a premium throughout, the Heed’s best opportunity fell to Danny Johnson late on, who curled wide of the far post after a quick breakaway.

The Shaymen’s brightest spell came midway through the first-half, with forward Richard Peniket twice going close.

The two sides have now drawn six of their last seven meetings against one another, the Heed registering their sixth clean sheet in nine outings.

Aspin lauded the efforts of the Heed’s back-five, and is hopeful of seeing a sizeable crowd at the International Stadium in four days’ time as his side look to move to within one round of a Wembley return.

He said: “I’m pleased we’re still in the competition. Whether it gives us an advantage – being at home – we’ll just have to see.

“The tie is still evenly poised, regardless of which team is at home.

“It was a battling display. There were some good performances from the lads at the back.

“Sam Russell did not have a lot of saves to make, but his general handling was excellent, as was his decision-making.

“After Ben Clark was booked early on, it did cross my mind to take him off at half-time. I’m glad that I didn’t do that.

“He showed his experience and played with his head. He proved how important he is to us. I thought both centre-halves played very well.

“The back-five had to withstand a lot of balls going into the box towards the end, and they defended very well.

“I’m pleased with the players’ efforts at the moment, though we know that between now and the end of the season we’re going to have to score more goals.

“You’d like as many people to come as possible on Wednesday, because we’re getting close to where we want to be in the competition.

“The numbers do make a difference – we’ve seen that in the games against Grimsby and Aldershot. It definitely helped us and hopefully the same can happen again on Wednesday.”


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