Gateshead win FA Trophy to double Solihull Moors’ Wembley penalty woe

Solihull Moors and Gateshead knew their Wembley trip was only ever going to be double or quits. Tears and deja vu were guaranteed either way – it was merely a matter of dishing out the joy and despair.

In the end, it was Gateshead who, courtesy of Dajaune Brown’s penalty – the 16th and coolest of an enthralling shootout – who avenged their defeat on this very occasion 12 months back.

And it is difficult to wish Rob Elliot and the Heed Army anything but well. An issue with the security of tenure at their ground prevented Gateshead from taking the shot at the EFL that their league position deserved. Taking the FA Trophy back north will have softened the blow a little.

By the same measure, it is impossible to feel anything but sympathy for pain that Moors re-experienced here. Only six days ago, they lost the National League promotion final to Bromley on this ground.

Their supporters, players, and staff made the same sun-soaked journey, occupied the same corner as they had last Sunday. From the same technical area, with the same up-and-down restlessness, head coach Andy Whing had walked down the tunnel to deliver a half-time pep talk to a trailing side.

As against, Bromley, Moors had rallied. As against, Bromley, they recovered, took the game to extra time and then penalties. As against, Bromley, they stuttered at the last. Gateshead’s interval lead was marginally deserved. If a tad without-tooth, they showed plenty of the slick fluidity on which they have built their recent reputation.

But for Jay Benn’s heroic intervention, Edward Francis would have opened the scoring moments before the heat-induced drinks break. Francis had sprayed wide to Luke Hannant, continued his dart, and headed goalward.

Soon, though came a little portal into Brown’s talent. Of those playing in this season’s National League, the Derby loanee is perhaps the man with the highest ceiling. Last week, Brown was named the newly promoted side’s scholar of the year, and the expectation is that he could be competing for Championship game time as soon as August.

But back in May, as Joe Grayson chipped a ball forward, few present expected Brown’s first touch to be quite so regal as it was, to open quite as much space as it did. Blink, and Brown was at the byline rolling a ball across for Regan Booty to tap in.

As is – based on the barometer of last week – Moors’s Wembley way, they found post-interval rhythm. So good was Beck’s almost immediate opportunity to equalise that Solihull’s travelling band had begun an anticipatory celebration.

Alas Beck could not re-jig his feet on cue. Had he done, a simple finish would have followed from Tyrese Shade’s centre.

Then Beck found personal redemption. True, he ought not to have been allowed to meander, at no real pace, to dive and meet Joe Newton’s delivery with quite so little company.

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And true, VAR, had it been in use, may have found Beck offside earlier in the move. But Solihull’s Andy Whing, as is his right, may well invoke the karma clause – a lack of technology worked against Moors last weekend.

Before the yellow smoke had settled on the Solihull flairs, Joe Sbarra could have completed a rapid turnaround. But set away by a Beck-Matty Warburton combo, his shanked shot trickled wide.

Not for the first-time, Whing gathered his warriors ahead of extra time. Hayes denied Kieron Evans at one end; Louis Storey yanked Beck over in the area at the other.

The forward clambered up and buried the penalty. Redemption complete? No.

It was Gateshead’s turn to draw level, this time Brown tapping in after Tom Allan headed across goal. Brown would, not longer after, have the ­decisive say.

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