Gateshead boss Neil Apsin has praised the attitude of his players after they made it three wins in their opening four games with a 6-1 demolition of York City.
The Heed suffered their first Vanarama National League defeat of the season in cruel circumstances on Saturday as Forest Green Rovers defender Dale Bennett sent an injury time cross into the Gateshead area only to see it drop inside the far post.
Aspin’s men looked to be in the process of putting that defeat behind them as they took control of their game against the Minstermen when striker Ryan Bowman put the Heed ahead in the first half against his former club.
However on the stroke of half time Gateshead were left to rue their misfortune once again as they were the victims of a contentious decision from referee Joseph Johnson.
Johnson awarded a penalty against the Heed after he judged that defender Jamal Fyfield had handled in the area, despite the fact that the ball seemed to strike the hand of York winger Kaine Felix.
Richard Brodie levelled the scores as he successfully converted the spot kick against the club he spent time with in the 2013/14 season.
As referee Johnson brought the first half to a close the majority of the International Stadium crowd vented their frustration at the official.
The scenes in the stands matched those on the pitch, as Aspin made his point to the referee as both disappeared down the tunnel.
The Heed put that decision behind them by scoring five unanswered second half goals and that recovery led Aspin to thank his players as they sat in the home dressing room after the full time whistle.
The former Port Vale defender said “I thanked the players after the game for that performance because after the disappointment on Saturday, when it was a really long journey back and I felt it was an unjust result, they have answered it in the best possible way.
“I must admit you don’t expect to win any games at this level by scoring six goals, but the performance, in the first half we were excellent and we made chances, we should have been more than one goal up.
“Then to have a really bad decision against us on the stroke of half time, coming on the back of Saturday’s fluke goal, then it has been a big test in the second half and they have responded in the best manner”
Aspin admitted that the Heed dressing room was an angry place to be at half time following the penalty decision.
But Aspin and his coaching staff made sure that the players were calm as they took to the field with the second half and their performance after the interval led to the Heed boss giving them “full marks” for their display.
“There was a lot of anger towards the referee.
“I had a good view of the penalty and their player handled it so it was particularly harsh to give the penalty against us.
“But I knew the players were upset, I said to them at half time we have to take the emotion out of it in the second half because we played so well in the first half.
“I felt we just had to keep doing the same and don’t get involved in the emotion of the game and the decisions.
“The players did that so it was full marks to them”
The win over York City makes it two wins in their first two home games for Gateshead, as they look to make the International Stadium a more challenging environment for visiting teams.
Last season the Heed lost ten of their twenty three home fixtures in the National League, including losing five of their last six home games in the 2015/16 season.
That form was quite the contrast to their showing against the Minstermen, even affording their manager the opportunity to enjoy watching their display, as he lauded their attacking display.
Aspin said “I think it would be fair to say we could have scored ten tonight.
“Ok, it’s only four games in but it wasn’t enjoyable watching some games last year, especially at home, but it was nice tonight.
“You never enjoy games until you are in front but once we got 4-1 in front it was really nice to watch the end of that game, so I really think the players deserve a lot of credit.
“York are a big club, they were unbeaten until tonight and they don’t concede many goals so for us, to get six, it’s fantastic for Gateshead”
With over 1,300 in attendance at a game that will be classed as the Heed’s local derby there was an increase from their opening day fixture against Chester.
Now Aspin wants the International Stadium crowds to continue to rise, with his side playing a more attractive brand of football.
And he feels that owners Richard and Julie Bennett deserve the support of the local community for the hard work they put in during a summer that saw Aspin overhaul the Heed squad.
“It’s very difficult because everybody in this area, when you have Newcastle, it is hard ot attract support but I honestly think if anyone came to the game tonight they would see exceptional quality.
“If more people would take a chance to look at Gateshead I think they would be impressed. I don’t understand why, when you have players working hard, playing for the shirt, not getting paid thousands of pounds, they deserve to get more support but all we can do is put on more performances that hopefully attracts supporters.
“The chairman has worked hard, he worked hard in the summer and he deserves to be backed by the public because unlike in a lot of Premier League clubs, where you have owners from outside of the country who are trying to make money, these are two owners that love Gateshead and are putting their own money into the club.
“For them I hope they enjoyed tonight, which they will have, and we want to put on more performances like that to attract more supporters because for all of their effort and commitment to the club, they deserve that”