THREE goals in twelve minutes earned a fresher Gateshead side the points at Blackwell Meadows.

It was clear from the start which team hadn’t played on Boxing Day, and the Heed’s superior fitness gave them the points in the second half.

Darlington manager Alun Armstrong said; “It was a really difficult game. You could tell from the first minute when the ball went through to Luke Charman, even he wasn’t moving freely.

“You could see that they were going to have more possession, and all we could do was sit in and counter.

“It’s not great for a part time team to play on the 26th and 28th against a full time team that didn’t play on the 26th. If we hadn’t played on the 26th then I would have fancied us more.

“But our lads stuck to their task, and we even could have been 1-0 or 2-0 up at half time, but they succumbed in the end.”

After Jake Cassidy, on his return to the Darlington side had a low shot saved by Gateshead keeper Jacob Chapman in the opening minutes, Gateshead looked the sharper of the teams and exposed Quakers on several occasions.

Paul Blackett had a close range shot blocked by Quakers’ skipper Danny Ellis, while Darlington keeper Tommy Taylor did well to block a low effort by Cedwyn Scott from twelve yards out.

Another patient move ended with Ellis turning a dangerous cross from Dan Ward over his own crossbar.

Quakers steadily got back into the game. Luke Charman was always a dangerous threat, and caused Gateshead problems twice. Firstly, Chapman saved his 25 yarder, and then just on half time, he timed his run well to control a good pass by George Smith, run into the area, but Chapman beat his powerful shot away.

Jack Lambert nearly scored direct from the left wing corner, but the ball was headed off the line.

At the start of the second half, Ellis had a header from an inswinging corner blocked on the line, then Charman fired narrowly over the top.

Gateshead put on former Billingham Synthonia and York striker on 65 minutes, and provided Gateshead with the extra energy they needed to win the game, as Darlington’s legs started to slow.

He went narrowly close with a header from a Robbie Tinkler cross just after he came on, but he broke the deadlock on 72 minutes, when he picked up a through ball and coolly slotted it past the advancing Taylor.

Quakers went straight up the other end and equalised, when Charman was finally rewarded for his efforts when he volleyed a left wing cross into the corner of the net for his twelfth goal of the season.

But Gateshead’s response was just as quick, as Cedwyn Scott slipped his marker on the edge of the Darlington box and fired into the top corner.

Quakers’ legs went completely after that, and they conceded a sloppy third when Louis Storey kept the ball in play inside the penalty area with Quakers claiming that the ball was out, and he set up Langstaff to fire home.