Liam Hatch's goal in the second minute of the second half condemned Cambridge United to defeat the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
Hatch got free at the far post to head Martin Brittain's cross past Danny Naisbitt and settle a match which was low on quality and goal-mouth incident.
U's manager Jez George made one change to the starting line-up, Michael Gash replacing Mustafa Tiryaki, but saw his side unable to test Paul Farman in the visiting goal. In fact neither keeper had a save to make in the first half, with Jonathon Thorpe's blocked shot the only effort of note.
Josh Coulson was withdrawn at half-time to be replaced by Blaine Hudson, and Gateshead made United pay seconds after the break when Hatch climbed above Kevin Roberts to find the net.
United huffed and puffed in response, but Farman remained untroubled despite a couple of crosses zipping through the six-yard box.
The U's will be back in action on Tuesday night when Newport County are the visitors.
Man of the Match: Michael Gash - battled manfully against Gateshead's giant centre backs.
FULL TIME: Cambridge United 0-1 Gateshead
16.51: That's full time, United can't squeeze a final chance out of what was a poor performance. It was a game of few chances, but Gateshead took theirs through Hatch to clinch the points.
16.49: Ball into the box from Naisbitt finds Dawkin eventually, and his cross is blocked by a defender. Corner, and United have plenty of bodies up as Jarvis's delivery finds Pugh diving in but he can only head wide under pressure.
16.48: Three minutes to be added, which will start once Curtis has received treatment for a head injury. He stayed down after a U's attack meaning the game had to be halted as United looked to build again. He seems to be ok now.
16.45: United make a final push, Jennings playing it in to Dawkin, but his low cross zips across the six yard box with no one able to get a touch.
16.43: There's been a distinct lack of tempo about this performance from the U's, and Gateshead nearly wrapped up the points there, Shaw with a lovely pass down the side to Marwood, who sprints into the box and tries to set up Cummins, but his shot is blocked.
16.40: Pugh and Gash work an opening for Dawkin, but he passes up the chance to shoot with his right foot and the ball goes back to Jennings, whose flighted cross is easy meat for the keeper.
16.36: Gash fouled by Curtis, that'll be a United free kick. Jennings chips it into the box and it's headed behind by one of the Gateshead giants. Corner finds Pugh at the near post but his diving header is powerful and miles wide.
16.33: Some trickery from Thorpe sees him creating a bit of space on the right, and his cross to the near post is just about cleared by Clark under pressure from Pugh. Gateshead making a change as Michael Gash receives treatment for a head injury, Hatch is going off, Marwood his replacement.
16.29: Good passing from the U's working the ball right to left until Jarvis gets it out to Dawkin, who drives into the box but puts his cross into the side-netting.
16.24: United make their final change, Josh Dawkin on in place of Jack Eades. Means Gash will have to play the full 90 on his return to the starting line-up. Hudson almost exposed there, playing a bad pass which is intercepted by Hatch, but fortunately the U's have numbers back to crowd out the striker.
16.18: Today's attendance is 2,344 (away 21). Here comes Luke Berry for United, on in place of Tom Shaw.
16.14: Roberts cuts infield and tries a left-footed curler which is just wide of the post. I think Farman was struggling to get there. The Heed keeper is predictably taking his time with the goal kick.
16.10: Gateshead with a free kick now, McAuley penalised for fouling Shaw. Good position 25ish yards out, Brittain will fancy this I should think. It is Brittain and that's just wide! Curling over the wall and inches away, Naisbitt glued to the spot.
16.08: That was a poor goal to concede really, just a straight forward cross in to the back stick, Hatch beat Roberts all ends up. Gateshead have a corner now, Brittain will take but there's some pushing at the back stick and United have a free kick.
16.05: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-1 GATESHEAD. Not the start to the second half Jez George will have been looking for. Long cross from Brittain and Liam Hatch climbs above Roberts at the back post to head back across the goal and in.
16.03: We're underway again and United have made a change, presumably enforced, with Blaine Hudson on for Josh Coulson in defence. Hopefully nothing too serious for Josh.
HALF TIME: Cambridge United 0-0 Gateshead
15.46: Shaw gets across the near post to meet Brittain's cross but can only flick a shot wide. That must be pretty much half-time, indeed it is. 0-0 at the break is a fair reflection of a fairly low-key half, Thorpe's blocked shot early on the closest either side has come, neither keeper has been tested yet.
15.44: Eades with the foul on Baxter, that'll be a free kick and a talking to for Eades. This a chance for Gateshead to hoist a ball into the area, which they do through Brittain but the offside flag goes up.
15.40: That's another corner after good work from Gash. In it comes from Jarvis, it's headed away as far as Shaw, who makes a bit of space and drives in a low shot which is heading wide but flicks off a leg, Pugh I think, and runs to Roberts. His cross is back into the box but United can't profit and Gateshead clear.
15.39: Corner to United now as Eades cross goes behind despite the efforts of Baxter. Again Jarvis's cross isn't bad, but a defender gets a head on it and takes it away from Coulson, who does well to chase down the loose ball and win a throw on.
15.30: Cross comes in from Baxter, Cummins completely misses his ckick and Coulson can only slice the ball behind, think it's quite slippery out there after this morning's rain. In comes the corer, it's deep towards Cummins, whose shot is charged down. Clark helps it back into the box to Hatch, who fizzes a low cross into the six yard box, but there's no one in a Heed shirt in the danger zone and Eades can clear.
15.25: In comes the second corner, it's a decent delivery from Jarvis but neither Roberts nor Eades can get their head on it, and after a spell of penalty box pinball Jarvis aims another cross in but shanks it into touch for a goal kick.
15.24: United break out from defence and move the ball from right to left, Jarvis finding Eades, who heads for the corner and wins an, er, corner, In it comes from Jarvis, it gets a flick off Roberts and Coulson retrieves but his cross spins behind for another corner.
15.20: Coulson strides out of defence, and with no other options ahead of him hangs up a tempting cross for Gash, who gets his head to the ball and directs it into the path of Eades, whose shot is charged down.
15.16: Hatch fouled by Roberts, despite being roughly double the defenders size. In comes the free kick from Brittain, it's not a bad ball but Shaw heads it away from danger.
15.12: Eades latches onto a poor clearance and cuts infield. Though his shot is charged down the ball breaks to Jennings, who arcs over a great cross towards Pugh, who completely miskicks. The loose ball breaks to Thorpe eight yards out but his shot is charged down by Clark and Gateshead can clear, that was a let off for the visitors.
15.09: Dangerous cross in from Brittan on the left, and with Naisbitt dithering Josh Coulson whacks the ball bar. The resulting corner flicks off James Curtis to Cummins, who tries a curler but sees his shot fly wide.
15.08: Keeper Farman races out to thump the ball over the roof of the Habbin with Gash closing in. Newmarket Road End in good voice despite what looks like another meagre crowd.
15.03: Gateshead employing a 3-5-2 formation, and are on the attack until Rossi Jarvis intercepts and sends United away down the right with Eades then Roberts, whose cross is blocked away for a throw in. From the restart Tom Shaw tries his luck from distance but skies a shot over the disabled stand to the left of the NRE.
15.00: We're having a change of ends, United will kick off attacking the NRE.
14.57: The teams are out, United in their usual amber and black, and Gateshead in a West Ham-esque claret and blue number.
14.55: Last season the U's won this fixture in comfortable, a 5-0 victory that included the collectors item to end all collectors items, a goal from Daryl Clare.
Cambridge United: Naisbitt, Roberts, Jennings, Coulson (Hudson 45), McAuley, Eades (Dawkin 67), Thorpe, Jarvis, Shaw (Berry 60), Gash, Pugh. Subs: Hudson, Hughes, Tiryaki, Berry, Dawkin.
Gateshead: Farman, Curtis, Clark, Baxter, Brittain, Turnbull, Cummins, Chandler, Dummett, Hatch (Marwood 85), Shaw. Subs: Deasy, Odhiambo, Gate, Gillies, Marwood.
14.52: TEAM NEWS. United make one change, with Michael Gash replacing Mustafa Tiryaki, who drops to the bench. Gateshead bring an experienced side including strikers Jon Shaw and Liam Hatch.
14.50: Hello and welcome to the R Costings Abbey Stadium for today's match between Cambridge United and Gateshead. The U's are looking for a third successive victory, and a win today would take them above the visitors in the table.
Reporting by Matt Gooding