Calum Patton struck twice in three crazy minutes on the cusp of half-time, as our youngsters suffered Central League Cup Final heartbreak at One Call Stadium.
The Gateshead frontman’s quick-fire ‘double’ sealed a hard-fought 2-1 victory for the Tynesiders, who also had goalkeeper Jordan Nixon to thank for a string of fabulous saves.
The omens looked good for Mansfield in the early exchanges, as Nixon’s inability to claim Jack Hawkins’ near-post corner, allowed talisman Joe Flint to slot home.
Ross Lamb came close to adding a second on the half-hour mark, before the Heed drew level in controversial fashion shortly prior to the interval.
Billy Simpson cleanly won the ball in a strong challenge with Luke Carr inside the area, but the Stags defender was penalised for his tackle, which allowed Patton to equalise with a well-placed spot-kick.
With our youngsters still reeling, matters then went from bad to worse as Patton steered home a close-range effort just two minutes later to complete a quick turnaround.
Nevertheless, Mansfield produced a stirring second half performance full of passion, commitment, desire and unquestionable endeavour, but they were unable to beat the impressive Nixon.
Both Jake Green and Liam Marsden flashed efforts through Nixon’s six-yard box, whilst Flint saw a thunderbolt 20-yard strike expertly tipped over by the Tynesiders custodian.
Substitute Matt Harris also glanced a header just wide at close-range, whilst the ever-impressive Hawkins and winger Matt Jones were also denied by the nemesis that was Nixon.
Gateshead ultimately held on to seal the Central League Cup (which also counts as a Regional Division victory), but our reserves could gain revenge when they travel to the North-East on Thursday.
Team: Hopkins, Simpson, J.Jones (M.Jones), Robinson, Birch, Marsden, Green, Thomas (c), Lamb (Harris), Flint, Hawkins. Subs: Fell, Murray, Chambers, Coupe, Todd.