GATESHEAD booked their place in the First Round of the FA Cup for the first time in three seasons as they won 2-1 at Buxton in Steve Watson’s first game in charge. 

A dominant first-half display from the Heed proved to be enough to see them through as Paddy McLaughlin opened the scoring before Jordan Burrow doubled the lead from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

Gateshead certainly deserved their lead at the break but Buxton were able to forge a way back into the game as Liam Hardy converted a penalty for the hosts with just over 20-minutes remaining.

The Tynesiders were in danger of making things difficult for themselves but they were able to see the game out with relative ease and progress through to the first round proper for the first time since the 2014/15 season.

The Fourth Qualifying Round match at The Silverlands, the highest football ground in the country, started in an energetic fashion as both sides created numerous half-chances inside the opening stages.

Neither keeper was really tested inside the opening 20-minutes with Hardy looking lively for the hosts and the likes of Luke Hannant and Richard Peniket seeing shots blocked at the other end.

The first real chance of the game came Gateshead’s way as Jordan Preston burst down the right wing and played an enticing low ball toward the front post which Jordan Burrow managed to get a toe on but his effort fell just wide of the right post.

As the visitors started to settle into the game, they started to knock on the door as they took control. However, Buxton were remaining resolute at the back and continued to put in some fine blocks and challenges to prevent the Heed from opening the scoring.

Their defensive tenacity only lasted so long, however, as Jordan Preston’s 25-yard strike deflected kindly off his teammate McLaughlin and into the right side of the goal.

It was a slightly fortuitous way to take the lead but Watson’s men had certainly deserved it based on the run of play.

Less than 10-minutes later Gateshead won a free-kick on the edge of the Buxton penalty area as McLaughlin was brought down. The Heed goalscorer got back to his feet and came within inches of grabbing his and Gateshead’s second as his low free-kick whistled just wide of the left post.

As the half wore on, the away side came closer and closer to grabbing a second goal. The Tynesiders were twice denied by Bucks’ keeper Jan Budtz in quick succession.

Some good work from Preston found Burrow inside the box, but the Heed number 10 could only force a decent save from Budtz with his legs from close range.

Moments later it was Preston who tested the Buxton stopper as his driving run and strike from 25-yards was tipped wide as half-time approached.

And in their very next attack, Gateshead found themselves with a great chance to go in 2-0 at the break as Callum Williams was felled by Curtis Morrison inside the penalty area.

The referee was quick to point to the spot and up stepped Burrow to confidently dispatch the spot-kick into the bottom right corner.

Soon after the half-time whistle blew and the Heed were good value for their two-goal lead.

After an eventful first-half, the second didn’t really have as much going for it as neither side was able to create many clear-cut chances after the restart.

The Heed’s first decent chance of the second half came through McLaughlin after 55-minutes as he curled the ball past Budtz from 25-yards but it rose just too much as the ball zipped over the Buxton bar.

As the game went on, you would expect Gateshead’s fitness to shine through and help them see out the match comfortably but Buxton remained fighting and their endevour was soon rewarded as they earned themselves a penalty.

An outstanding point-blank, diving save from Dan Hanford in the Gateshead goal eventually fell to Buxton’s Luke Hinsley who was then fouled by Theo Vassell inside the penalty area.

The resulting penalty was blasted home by Hardy as the Bucks gave themselves a lifeline going into the closing stages.

As the home crowd got louder, Buxton grew in confidence and started to push for an equaliser but just lacked the final ball.

Still, the Heed’s quality shone through on the break as they were able to cut through the Buxton back-line on the counter. Preston blasted the ball from 20-yards but was once again thwarted by Budtz before substitute Wes York volleyed off the crossbar on the rebound.

If it wasn’t for the Buxton keeper, the Heed could have been out of sight but with two minutes to go, it could have been 2-2 as Sam Smith found space on the edge of the box but lacked the composure to test Hanford as the chance went begging.

At the other end, McLaughlin’s shot deflected nicely into the path of Fraser Kerr whose well struck effort was well stopped by Budtz once again to keep the score at 2-1.

The full-time whistle blew shortly after to confirm a first away win of the season for Gateshead in Watson’s first game in charge of the club.

The Tynesiders can now look forward to Monday night’s first round draw with fixtures due to be played on 4 November.

Buxton (4-4-2): Budtz; J. Williams, Maguire, Young (c), McWilliams; McGee, Ravenhill, Abbott, Morrison (Wilson 59); Hinsley, Hardy (Smith 81)

Subs not used: Meade, Doran, Kaba, Jameson

Goals: Hardy (pen  68)

Bookings: none

Gateshead (4-3-3): Hanford; C. Williams (Kerr 74), Vassell, Byrne, Barrow; Penn, McLaughlin, Hannant (Maxwell 86); Preston, Burrow, Peniket (York 69)

Subs not used: Macleod (GK), O’Donnell, Johnson, Langstaff

Goals: McLaughlin (28), Burrow (pen 44)

Bookings: Hannant (19), Vassell (38)

Referee: D. Richardson

Attendance: 653

MOTM: McLaughlin