Brown Stunner Unable To Prevent Reserves Defeat
Hartlepool Reserves v Gateshead Reserves
Report from Victoria Park
A fantastic strike from James Brown might have been the highlight of the game but it was unable to prevent Hartlepool Reserves from falling to a defeat against Gateshead.
A mix of youth and fringe players made up the starting XI of the first reserve fixture of the season, including Steve Haslam, James Poole and James Brown.
It was a even start to the game as Pools had the better possession but the more experienced Gateshead side were creating more chances.
A tame effort by trialist Alex Cooper was well saved by the Heed keeper midway through the half, Cooper had a quiet game on the left wing, with Pools entire midfield being guilty of playing too deep on several occasions.
The visitors continued to create the better chances as they broke through the heart of Pools defence, only for Nathan Fisher to have his powerful effort tipped over the bar by Andy Rafferty.
It probably should have been 1-0 to the visitors moments later after another break through the defence by Fisher, the ball smashed back off the crossbar and may well have bounced over the line on its way down. Oddly, there were few appeals from the Gateshead fans so Pools were able to clear the ball with ease.
At the other end a neat ball by Jack Baldwin, playing in an unfamiliar right back position, found James Brown at the edge of the area. A clever touch by the striker took the ball into the box but his effort went just over the goal.
Jordan Mellish hobbled off just before half time after a heavy challenge and was replaced by Nathan Buddle as the half drew to a close with the scores level.
Amongst the impressive crowd were Mick Wadsworth, Peter Hartley and Evan Horwood, as well as a healthy smattering of Heed supporters, and they were celebrating within 5 minutes of the restart as Josh Gillies grabbed the opening goal of the game.
The attacker had been busy all day and, when Pools defence failed to close him down, his sweet strike left Andy Rafferty with no chance as the ball nestled in the back of the net.
At the other end both Brown and Poole were struggling and a long ball from the Heed defence sent the visitors clear through on goal again. This time Robert Briggs did the hard work winning the ball but his chip over the oncoming Rafferty went harmlessly wide.
It continued to be a scrappy game, but it was Gateshead who were playing with more urgency and winning the valuable second balls, much to the annoyance of Micky Barron who was continually barking instructions from the Pools dugout.
There was a good opportunity for an equaliser when James Poole was hauled down at the corner of the box. A teasing free-kick skipped along the six-yard box with nobody able to make the contact that would have surely meant an equaliser.
Pools pressed more as the game reached its final quarter. A break by the visitors forced Darren Holden, who had a solid game at left back, into a last ditch tackle but from the subsequent corner defender Ewan Moyes rose highest to fire a bullet header past Rafferty to double Gateshead's advantage.
With this rather drab match drawing to a close up popped James Brown with a piece of skill which was fit for a much more grand game than this. Showing some great control he weaved the ball past 3 defenders and then curled it home from the edge of the area. Absolutely sublime.
Overall the better side were probably the more experienced Gateshead, but it was Brown's strike that had the crowds talking as the referee blew for full time.
FT: Hartlepool Reserves 1 Gateshead Reserves 2
Hartlepool: Rafferty, Baldwin, Mellish (Buddle), Johnson, Holden, Richards (Rutherford), Haslam, Hawkins, Cooper, Poole, Brown.
Subs not used: Snaith, James, Jones.