Gateshead manager Neil Aspin paid tribute to his side’s resilience as the Heed recovered from a first-half setback to dump Vanarama National League high-flyers Eastleigh out of the FA Trophy.
The Tynesiders fell behind to James Constable’s tap-in for the Spitfires, but got back on level terms five minutes after the break thanks to Paddy McLaughlin’s superb header.
And, only a minute after entering the fray, substitute Danny Johnson sealed their passage to the last-16 with a cool finish from Ryan Bowman’s pass.
Bowman himself had missed the chance to restore parity from the spot, Eastleigh ‘keeper Ross Flitney equal to his effort just after the half-hour mark.
However, the Heed persevered, and hit back to claim their place in Monday’s Third Round draw.
Aspin was encouraged by his side’s performance levels throughout, as the Heed recorded a fourth win in seven outings since the 50-year-old took charge.
He said: “In terms of a 90-minute performance, it was the best we have played since I have been here, bearing in mind the surface we played on and the fact that Eastleigh played their strongest team today.
“We gave away a poor goal – there’s no doubt about that. It should have been avoided, but we didn’t let our heads drop, even when we missed the penalty.
“We didn’t let that affect us. We finished the first-half very strongly, and we deserved to be in front at half-time, not behind.
“I just felt that if we could keep going like that, we would get a result.
“It’s not until you get to those latter stages of the Trophy that you really get that buzz, but it’s important that we keep going.
“The aptitude and effort were spot-on today, and other than a few tired legs at the end, everyone put in a good shift.”
Aspin also praised the showing of frontman Johnson, who had looked set for a spell away from the International Stadium after being made available for loan.
However, fresh from netting the Reserves’ winning goal in Monday’s Durham County Cup clash against Hartlepool United, the 22-year-old caught the eye with an impressive cameo.
Aspin said: “I was prepared to let Danny go out on loan, because I felt he would benefit from having more 90-minute games.
“To be fair to him, he didn’t want to go anywhere. He wants to play for Gateshead.
“There’s no point bringing in another striker if Danny’s here, because he’s capable of coming off the bench and scoring a goal.
“He’s had a good week – after scoring a lovely free-kick for the Reserves on Monday – and fair play to him.
“His hold-up play was good when he came on today, and that’s what we want to see more of.”
Source: Gateshead FC