Gateshead 1 Forest Green 1
FOREST Green boss Ady Pennock cut a frustrated figure after his side succumbed to a last-gasp Liam Hatch's equaliser against ten-man Gateshead, writes Richard Joyce.
The experienced former Barnet man came off the bench to drive home a cruel late equaliser for his ten man side after Marcus Maddison had been shown a red card for the hosts in the first half.
Lee Hughes' powerful penalty had given Rovers a second half lead, but Hatch's late strike reduced Ady Pennock's outfit to collecting just the one point as they looked to bounce back from Tuesday's defeat to Barnet.
“I would have taken a point before the game,” revealed Pennock.
“But it was obviously disappointing to to concede late on.
“I’m not sure whether it was a sending off or not, and in my opinion it wasn’t a penalty. We were okay, but a bit bitty and maybe we switched off at the end.
“Gateshead worked really hard and overall fully deserved a point.”
A couple of changes saw Ed Asafu-Adjaye occupy the left back slot, replacing the injured Luke Oliver, while Yan Klukowski was handed a starting berth with Danny Wright committed to a place amongst the replacements.
Neither side managed to create any real openings early on in a clash played in an atmosphere more akin to a training ground friendly.
The threatening James Brown was the first to go close for the hosts. The former Hartlepool man struggled to keep his header on goal down however as it nestled on the roof of the net.
Rovers broke quickly minutes after as they sealed their first realistic opportunity. Marcus Kelly fed Yan Klukowski after Anthony Barry had done well but Klukowski's thump on goal was blocked on its way to goal.
Barry played a part in Rovers next opening as his classy long ball fell into the path of the on rushing James Norwood whose clipped attempt couldn't find a way past Heed shot-stopper Adam Bartlett.
Then came the first periods key moment, right on the midpoint of the half, as Maddison's two-footed lunge on Dale Bennett was deemed dangerous enough by referee Richard Wigglesworth for the wide midfielder to be given his marching orders.
Down to ten men, Gateshead proved a hard side to break down, and the rest of the half was a quiet one, although the hosts skipper Ben Clark went close to handing his side the lead just before the half time whistle.
The Heed stalwart, making his 150th league appearance for the club, saw the ball fall to him from a corner but his always rising shot grazed the crossbar on its way behind.
Rovers threw more of their weight behind their attacking intentions in the second half, and Norwood, who will face Jordan on Tuesday night for the England C team, had an early attempt which he couldn't keep down.
Kelly then had the chance, ten minutes into the half, to find the net with a free kick that was in a similar position to the one he scored on Tuesday evening.
His left footed strike was heading for the back of the net until Bartlett impressively pushed it way.
Hughes tested Bartlett again minutes later after he broke into the box only for his low strike to be stopped by the former Hereford United keeper.
Rovers were on the front foot against their tiring opponents, and they got the goal they so eagerly sought, quarter of an hour from the end.
Norwood was judged to have been bundled over in the box and Hughes stepped up to blast his side into the lead confidently from the spot.
Gateshead boss Gary Mills responded quickly, throwing on three new faces in a triple substitution, and the Heed's replacements provided the crucial energy needed to bag his side a point.
The home side were left with an overload of space on the left, and James Marwood slipped a ball into the path of Hatch, who drove home at the death to draw his side level.
JJ O'Donnell's late long distance effort was grabbed by Sam Russell moments before the full time whistle as Rovers ended another visit on Tyneside without a win.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Hodgkiss, E. Oshodi, D. Bennett (A. Racine 66), E. Asafu-Adjaye; Y. Klukowski (M. Vieira 57), A. Bangura, A. Barry, M. Kelly (P. Green 90); L. Hughes, J. Norwood.
Subs not used: D. Wright, P. White.
Attendance: 649 .
Next: Saturday, March 8, Forest Green v Cambridge Utd (3pm).