Gateshead reserves 1, Bradford City reserves 2

Bradford City’s reserves made it three wins out of three in Central League Division One East as they picked up a hard-fought victory over Gateshead tonight.

Second-half strikes from Nialle Rodney and Adam Baker put City in control before former Bantam Kyle Nix pulled one back for the hosts.

Jack Compton had the chance make the scoreline look more comfortable late on but saw his penalty kick well saved by home keeper Jak Alnwick.

The watching Phil Parkinson was able to cast his eye over several of his squad members at Gateshead International Stadium as City named a strong line-up against the Tynesiders.

Jon McLaughlin and Steve Williams both played the full 90 minutes following their recent illness and injury problems respectively, while new signing Marcel Seip and Luke O’Brien also featured alongside Williams in defence.

Promising youngster Scott Brown was also partnered with fellow Scot Chris Mitchell in central midfield after receiving the relevant international and domestic clearance to play.

Along with Compton, City selected loanee attacker Michael Bryan as one of their wingers.

City came agonisingly close to taking the lead with barely two minutes on the clock when Bryan cut inside from his right flank position to fire in a shot that crashed against the bar. Rodney tried to pounce on the rebound but was flagged offside.

The Bantams came even closer to breaking the deadlock minutes later as Compton put young striker Baker through on goal.

His strike beat the dive of Alnwick but it also beat the shot-stopper’s near post as the effort flew narrowly wide.

As City continued to look threatening going forward, Gateshead’s Ewan Moyes went close to heading into his own net as he tried to clear Williams’ cushioned pass across goal from Compton’s far-post cross.

Moyes’ header had the beating of Alnwick but, luckily for the defender, the ball dropped narrowly wide of the far post.

The danger wasn’t over for Gateshead, however, as Brown forced Alnwick into a fine save with a stunning 25-yard volley as the hosts could only half clear the resulting corner.

Alnwick was also called into action just before the 20-minute mark when he tipped O’Brien’s low, angled effort around the post after the full back had surged into the Gateshead area.

City were still looking the stronger of the two outfits as the half progressed, with Williams the next to test the home keeper from a Mitchell corner.

The defender climbed highest to connect with the set-piece, but he saw his downward header pushed away by Alnwick with a smart save down low to his left.

Just before the half-hour mark, Gateshead squandered their first promising opening of the game when a neat passing move on the edge of City’s area presented Nathan Fisher with a decent sight of goal but he could only fire over.

The home side looked threatening again as they broke forward in numbers with City deep in their half, but the attack eventually ended with Martin Brittain firing tamely at McLaughlin from just outside the area.

With Gateshead now seemingly growing into the fixture as half-time approached, it was the hosts who created the next bright moment of the match as Nix forced McLaughlin to push his curling effort from just inside the area around the post.

The even nature of the contest continued after the restart with Gateshead’s Fisher testing McLaughlin with an angled drive from just inside the area.

It was the Bantams who grabbed the breakthrough early into the second period, however, when Bryan put Rodney through into space inside the Gateshead’s area to allow the striker to fire home past Alnwick.

Gateshead should have equalised almost straightaway though when Nix played Rob Briggs through with only McLaughlin beat.

Briggs struck his effort with pace, but the Bantams’ shot-stopper stood tall to block the effort.

As the hosts continued to look more potent opponents than they had in the opening stages of the game, Fisher then tested McLaughlin again with a dinked effort from an angle after bursting clear of City’s defence.

After seeing off those two dangerous home attacks though, City sprung forward once again to double their advantage.

Rodney went from scorer to provider as he squared the ball for Baker to finish with aplomb with a fine strike into the bottom corner from just outside the area.

Baker was then given a good opportunity to double his tally for the night thanks to a surging run forward by Williams.

The defender’s low cross into the box picked out the unmarked Baker with only Alnwick to beat but the Gateshead ‘keeper produced a smart reflex save to deny him with his legs.

From having the chance to extend their lead further, City then saw their advantage halved thanks to one of their old boys.

McLaughlin failed to properly hold onto Gary Mulligan’s cross into the box and Nix was on hand to hook the loose ball over the sprawling Bantams keeper and into the corner of the goal.

Rodney thought he had re-established City’s two-goal cushion minutes later when he rounded Alnwick before slotting into an unguarded goal but he was hauled back for being narrowly offside.

Shortly afterwards, Seip was replaced by second-year apprentice Declan McGivern in what seemed like a planned substitution.

City could have made the game safe when they were awarded a penalty eight minutes from time after Ewan Moyes was penalised for pushing Baker in the back inside the area.

Compton’s spot-kick was well struck but his left- footed effort was equally well saved by a full-length save to his left from Alnwick.

Apprentices Connor Bower and James Nanje were then brought into the action shortly after Compton’s saved penalty.

One of Bower’s first touches saw him denied by a brave block from an on-rushing Alnwick after Compton’s forward pass had played the young striker into space.

Gateshead reserves: Alnwick, Briggs (captain), Rents, Evans (Berj 70min), Moyes, Allan, Brittain, Nix (Marshall 77min), Mulligan, Fisher, Taggart (Danquah HT). Subs (not used): Deasy, Short.

City reserves: McLaughlin, Burns (captain), O'Brien, Mitchell, Williams, Seip (McGivern 77min), Bryan, Brown (Nanjie 83min), Rodney, Baker (Bower 83min), Compton. Subs (not used): Tongue, Lawless.

Referee: Martin Coy