Play-off date with Halifax confirmed
Cambridge United will travel to FC Halifax in the Skrill Premier play-offs on Wednesday after they suffered defeat in the final game of the regular season.
A fluke effort in the first half from Colin Larkin put the Heed ahead, and they doubled their advantage in the second half through substitute Robert Ramshaw.
Richard Money handed a debut to new on-loan goalkeeper Adam Smith, signed from Leicester City on Friday. He was one of five changes, with Ryan Donaldson, Harrison Dunk, Ashley Chambers and Matthew Barnes-Homer also coming into the starting line-up.
Lining up in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, the U’s had the better of the opening stages, but, crucially, couldn’t make the break-through. The best chance came when Barnes-Homer and Chambers worked the ball to Luke Chadwick in space, but Adam Bartlett raced off his line to save.
Moments later Gateshead were in front in bizarre circumstances as Larkin controlled near the touch-line and sent in a cross which caught the breeze and looped over Smith into the top corner.
Following the goal, United came under pressure, and Larkin was inches away from doubling Heed’s advantage when his shot came back off the post.
United had some good possession, but struggled to test Bartlett, though Andy Pugh, one of three second half substitutes, saw a snap-shot from a corner cleared off the line.
And Gateshead wrapped things up in the closing stages when Smith made a good save from substitute Ryan Noble’s header, but another replacement, Ramshaw, was on hand to finish things off.
The result means Gateshead finish fourth in the league, ahead of Halifax, who will be United’s opponents in the play-off semi-finals. The first leg takes place at The Shay on Wednesday, April 30.
Gateshead: Bartlett, Baxter, Magnay, Curtis, Clark, Chandler, Turnbull, Oster, Maddison (Noble 81), Larkin (Ramshaw 63), Marwood. Subs not used: Hatch, Cummins, Walker.
Cambridge United: Smith, Coulson, Miller, Taylor, Donaldson (Pugh 70), Dunk, Champion, Hughes (Arnold 57), Chadwick (Gillies 57), Chambers, Barnes-Homer. Subs not used: Roberts, Bonner.
Attendance: 2,916 (away 322)