Stags high jump over Gateshead athletics stadium hurdle

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I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever visit to Gateshead’s amazing International Stadium on Tuesday night, despite the howling wind and rain.

Three points and an immediate response to Saturday’s flop at Ebbsfleet were the most important things on the agenda and Stags produced both in the most bizarre of surrounds.

For the Stags fans who did go on Tuesday, standing out in the open at the mercy of the elements in that vast athetics bowl, I salute you.

For those who didn’t make it up there all I can say is that it was like attending a big cup final where no one has been told its happening.

It was like watching a reserve league match at Wembley!

From the press box at the back of the stand you needed binoculars to see the far side of the field which may as well have been over the other side of the adjacent Tyne in Newcastle for what you could see otherwise.

But it was worth the journey and cold to see Mansfield fight back valiantly after going behind against the run of play.

I, and many others, were disappointed by the Stags’ lack of attacking prowess in the final half hour in the Ebbsfleet defeat.

It was disappointing to twice go behind to a struggling club, but you could accept that, and even defeat, if we had stood up tall and fought back but been unable to find a way through.

However, at Ebbsfleet Stags gave the home keeper far too easy a last half hour and cannot complain at the criticism heaped on them (though suggestions from some fans that David Holdsworth should go were frankly laughable and disgraceful).

But all that was forgotten and forgiven four days later.

It was good to see three new goalscorers at Gateshead with so many problems for the club’s top three scorers. Big credit must to go Kyle Perry for having an injection on his thigh (I can’t imagine how much that might hurt) and turning in a brave, powerful display.

Andy Burgess was a class act on the night, Jon Challinor had his best game so far in a Stags shirt, getting into the box more times than any other midfielder we’ve had since Craig Disley, and Louis Briscoe once again looked a potent threat running at defenders.

I do apologise for the athletics puns in my Chad report and, in mitigation, can only tell you I opted not to use even cheesier ones I had thought of!

The night continued to be an enjoyable one after the game too.

I didn’t finish work at the ground until 10.30pm but had a bed and breakfast sorted nearby on the banks of the Tyne and gratefully spotted a pub en route called the Schooner.

I walked in as the only other customer was walking out at 10.40pm and wondered if I would get a beer but the landlord and ladlady were typically friendly locals who were more than happy to serve and chat to me. And they even had a local real ale on handpump. Heaven!

They told me they had served over 100 Stags fans earlier and, despite no chef, had managed to cater for their food and drink needs and enjoyed the company of the visiting fans. Don’t miss popping in there next time we play up there.

I chatted to pubowners Debra and Gordon for ages and they were great company while their local ale helped me get off to sleep after all the excitement of the 90 minutes.

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