RICHARD Brodie and Michael Gash were the heroes as ten man York City snatched a backs-against-the wall 2-1 victory at Gateshead.
Brodie, the former Newcastle Benfield front-man who Gateshead spent the summer trying to prise from Bootham Crescent, pulled the Minstermen level with a superb right-footed equaliser nine minutes into the second half.
And then, following a moment of madness which saw Richard Pacquette sent off for retaliation, Michael Gash powered a bullet-header past Jim Provett with ten minutes left to give York what, in the first half, had seemed an unlikely win.
They had been second best, trailing to a 25-yard strike from Alex Francis at the break, but Brodie’s strike and then the dismissal seemed to energise the Minstermen.
It was a wonder cross from Andy Ferrell, who stretched at full length to keep the ball in play before producing a swerving centre, and Gash superbly placed his header into the top of the net.
With midfielder Levi Mackin out, Martin Foyle rewarded Brodie, Ferrell and Pacquette for their work off the bench against Hayes & Yeading by handing all three starts.
Michael Rankine dropped to the bench as the City boss ditched his 4-4-2 formation – preferring an attacking 4-3-3 with Brodie, Gash and Pacquette leading the line.
And Pacquette, who had earned his start following that late equaliser against Hayes, could have given City the perfect start after five minutes.
The ball fell to the Minstermen, following a mix up in the Gateshead defence, and when it came to Pacquette he drove it firmly but Provett stood tall to beat the shot away. That was the limit of York’s attacking ambitions in the first half.
Gateshead, on the other hand, were incisive and skipper Kris Gate was everywhere.
The focal point of the home side’s attacks, he relentlessly probed and prompted at a City defensive line which got more desperate the longer the first half went on.
He fired over the bar when James Meredith’s clearing header fell straight to his feet 20 yards out and then over-ran a gorgeous through ball when only Michael Ingham was left to beat.
City suffered a genuine blow when David McGurk was forced off with an injury, replaced by Djoumin Sangare, whose first act in City league action was to pick up a yellow card.
All the while, Gateshead were winding up the pressure on an increasingly fraught back line.
Sangare proved his worth with a super challenge on Michael Mackay after he was put through by Gate on the edge of the box before Wayne Phillips side-footed tamely at York’s net-minder.
But Foyle’s men failed to heed the warnings.
As the first period wound down, Ingham produced a magnificent save from Steven Richardson, who almost walked round a pedestrian Daniel Parlsow in the box, and then he tipped a curling Phillips shot over the bar.
It was merely a reprieve.
Into stoppage time and, as Francis roamed forwards on the right hand side, Minstermen defenders continued to back away from the substitute. He needed no invitation – drilling the ball past Ingham superbly from 25 yards. No more than Gateshead deserved.
It would be a surprise if City hadn’t been given a rocket by Foyle at half-time and, as the second period got under way, there was more purpose.
Brodie warmed Provett’s hands with a firm drive in the opening minutes before, on 54 minutes, turning Francis, leaving the defender on the floor, and producing a cool finish – stroking the ball across Provett with his right foot to level matters.
Then Pacquette hit the self-destruct button. The hero of Hayes recklessly retaliated following Phillips’ foul and was sent off.
Gateshead merely had to recreate their first half superiority it seemed to take the three points but City had other ideas.
Gash, who looked a yard short of pace early on, was magnificent – thoughtful and composed as the Minstermen were neat, tidy and crisp in possession.
Inevitably, Gateshead looked to push on, but Ferrell’s never-say-die attitude was rewarded in the greatest possible fashion – and Gash showed why Foyle spent so much time on that £55,000 summer deal.
Gateshead 1 (Francis 45+2)
York City 2 (Brodie 54; Gash 80)
Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire
Michael Ingham 7
Ben Purkiss 6
Daniel 6 Parslow 6
James Meredith 6
Alex Lawless 6
Neil Barrett 6
Andy Ferrell 8
Richard Pacquette 5
Michael Gash 8
Richard Brodie 8
Djoumin Sangare (for McGurk, 15) 7 Andy McWilliams (for Ferrell, 83) Subs not used: Smith, Nelthorpe, Rankine.
City’s star man: Ferrell – never say die attitude was the spark for City’s unlikely winner.
Gateshead: Jim Provett, Craig Baxter, James Curtis, Carl Jones (Alex Francis 28), Mark Robinson, Martin Brittain, Phil Turnbull, Kris Gate, Wayne Phillips (Jamie Harwood 68), Steven Richardson (Graeme Armstrong 75), Michael Mackay. Subs (not used): Paul Farman, Neale McDermott.
Yellow cards: Sangare 18, Phillips 56, Gash 59, Baxter 79.
Red card: Pacquette 56.
Referee: Richard West (Beverley).
Attendance: 1,174 (492 City fans).
Shots on target: Gateshead 2, York 5.
Shots off target: Gateshead 3, York 2.
Corners: Gateshead 3, York 2.
Fouls: Gateshead 6, York 4.
Offsides: Gateshead 1, York 2.