Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Spitfires Send Tynesiders' Play-Off Hopes Crashing; GATESHEAD 2 EASTLEIGH 3

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Spitfires Send Tynesiders' Play-Off Hopes Crashing; GATESHEAD 2 EASTLEIGH 3

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Bowron

GARY Mills wrote himself into Gateshead folklore when he took the club to Wembley last season, and it will be another remarkable feat if he can pilot them into the play-offs again this season.

Back-to-back six-pointers against Halifax and Eastleigh have brought just one point, a narrow defeat at Dover preceding those crucial games.

On a day when all four of their rivals for fifth spot won, a chastening defeat against Eastleigh has left the Tynesiders eight points outside the play-offs with six games to play.

The odds would be against them even if Mills had a full complement of players at his disposal, and the squad has been hit with numerous injuries, with half of the first-choice side missing.

A depleted Heed have fronted up manfully over the last five games when as many as 11 players have been unavailable, but it will take something special to extend their season now.

The long injury list has meant Mills has had to go with virtually the same team, some playing out of position, and it finally caught up with them against the Spitfires.

Trailing to James Constable's 16th goal of the season, Mills' men hit back impressively, hitting the woodwork three times and equalising through Michael Rankine - all before the break.

The interval, however, killed the Heed's momentum, the second half draining overworked legs of energy, the mind strong but the body weak.

"It was a great effort from the lads again," said Mills. "But they are on their knees mentally and physically.

"It's not the result we wanted, but we'll not give up until it's mathematically impossible for us to make the top five.

"We'll give it everything. It's tough to take today because if we'd got a win, it would have given us a lift, but we've not quite had the lift's we've wanted this season.

"It's fatigue at the moment, but we'll patch them up and go again at Dartford on Tuesday. …

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