IF John Askey needed a reminder of the challenge he faces in turning around York City’s fortunes, then he was given one in a 2-0 defeat at Gateshead.

From start to finish, York were outplayed by a side that move up to third in the Vanarama National League North, a position that many City fans felt their side would be during the summer.

In the end, Gateshead managed two goals - a Cedwyn Scott penalty in the first half and a quality Luke Williams top-corner finish in the second - but it could and probably should have been far more.

Even in making three changes, promotion-chasing Gateshead produced numerous chances and looked a clear gulf above City.

By contrast, the visitors did not once genuinely test the opposition goalkeeper and looked overwhelmed by the quality of their visitors from the early stages.

Wins for City over Blyth Spartans and Guiseley always had an asterisk attached given their league position.

This was the time for York to step up and for the side to prove they were promotion contenders under new interim boss Askey. But this felt like a reality check on those prospects.

Major work is surely needed to this side for a National League challenge to even be considered.

City were unable to build on the slim positives to be taken from the win at Guiseley last time out. Just one change was made from that game, with Clayton Donaldson rested and Mitch Hancox preferred to Mackenzie Heaney for the left-wing spot.

If there were any thoughts that a slightly weakened Gateshead team would have an impact on their performance, then that was quickly dispelled in the opening minutes.

From the off, Gateshead were on the front foot, dominating the possession and having purposeful attacking intent every time they stepped into the York half.

The wide and expansive Gateshead International Stadium pitch suited their free-flowing football, with everything they did seemingly flowing through former Hull City playmaker Greg Olley.

On eight minutes, the central midfielder played a low cross across the six-yard box, beating the York defence, though no home players could meet it.

Just seconds later and Gateshead had three quick-fire chances which could all have easily found the back of the net.

Capitalising on City giving the ball away in their own half, Paul Blackett twice had shots well blocked by Matty Brown while Pete Jameson stood strong to firstly deny Scott.

City had some minor respite when former defender Robbie Tinkler went off injured but Heed were quickly back on their case, pressing with genuine intent and harrying York at every opportunity.

Chances continued to come Gateshead’s way as Jack Hunter headed inches wide from a crossed free kick.

Another Heed opportunity went begging when Dan Ward chipped in a delightful cross cross for Paul Blackett who headed over the bar despite no defenders being in his vicinity.

After just half an hour, City supporters must surely have already been thinking that a draw would be a supremely satisfactory result.

Those thoughts quickly faded though as Gateshead were awarded a penalty on 39 minutes.

Adam Senior committed a cardinal sin, producing a mistimed sliding tackle in the box, which brought down Scott.

The same Gateshead player dusted himself down before sending Jameson the wrong way from 12 yards.

The home fans were again appealing for a penalty shortly after when Jameson dived in rashly on a forward, which looked just inside the box, though fortunately for City he was offside.

Just when York’s half looked as if it could not get any worse, Senior conjured a foul throw in late in the first 45 minutes.

Before the restart for the second half, Askey brought the players out to the pitch early and gave a small team-talk.

Even in the opening minutes, it did not appear to pay dividends. On 48 minutes, and with no apparent injury evident, Donaldson replaced Paddy McLaughlin.

York did finally manage to get their foot on the ball for sustained periods, but struggled to turn it into meaningful chances.

At the other end, Olley shot wide after a sharp turn on the edge of the box and were twice crowded out as they sought intricate passes deep in York territory.

The Minstermen were almost caught out at the back when Barrow stuttered after making a tackle in the box, with Blackett only able to flick wide as they nicked ahead of the defender.

On 63 minutes, York had a clear and rare effort on goal. A decent counter attack ended with Willoughby dragging a shot wide of the far post. A positive sign at last, even if it had taken the best part of an hour.

That one effort seemed to spark Gateshead into life. Ex-City man Macaulay Langstaff’s deflected strike hit the side netting while a Ward strike hit Langstaff and went wide.

Ward then had another go, with York again doing well to block it behind.

Willoughby was the sole attacking threat for the visitors and again he shot wide when cutting inside onto his right foot.

As seen far too often this season, York’s ‘Plan B’ was for Donaldson to get long throw ins into the box.

From one of these on 80 minutes, City almost scored. The ball dropped perfectly for Willoughby on the penalty spot but his swing at it went off target.

It felt like a huge chance missed at the time and so it proved. Two minutes later, substitute Williams was picked out by Langstaff and in turn he picked out the top left corner.

The assister very nearly had a goal against his former club as a teasing Olley cross just had too much weight for Langstaff.

One moment at the end seemed to summarise the gulf in class between the sides. Senior drove from the halfway line to the corner flag but was easily muscled off the ball and it ran dead.

Men against boys in that moment and men against boys for 90 minutes.

Gateshead: Chapman, Tinkler (Wombwell 18’), Hunter, Storey, Jacob, Bailey, Olley, Ward, Campbell, Scott (Williams 70’), Blackett (Langstaff 63’).

Subs not used: Pani.

Goals: Scott (40' pen), Williams (83)

York City: Jameson 4, Senior 3, Brown 5, Newton 4, Barrow 4, Wallace 4 (Heaney 81’), Wright 4, McLaughlin 3 (Donaldson 3 48’), Hancox 4, Beck 3, Willoughby 5.

Subs not used: Campbell, Hopper, Gilchrist.

Yellow cards: Wallace

York’s star man: Matty Brown. His two vital blocks in the first half denied Gateshead near-certain goals.


Shots (on target): 20 (6) | 5 (0)

Corners: 7 | 2

Offsides: 2 | 2

Fouls committed: 4 | 5