Gallery: Eight goal thriller for Boro against Gateshead

Stevenage Boro 5 Gateshead 3CHARLIE Griffin was the star of the show with a four-goal haul in a thrilling encounter against relegation strugglers Gateshead on Saturday afternoon.The Boro striker bagged

Stevenage Boro 5 Gateshead 3

CHARLIE Griffin was the star of the show with a four-goal haul in a thrilling encounter against relegation strugglers Gateshead on Saturday afternoon.

The Boro striker bagged his second hat-trick of the season with three sublime finishes, and was even in the right place for Gateshead as he headed into his own goal to give the visitors a surprise lead on 38 minutes.

Although it’ll take something to replace former Boro idol Steve Morison in the hearts of some of the Boro faithful, Griffin is going some way to pulling on those strings.

The 30-year-old looks the complete package and his work rate is tremendous. Not only did he put in probably his best attacking performance of the season so far, he was tracking back on 90 minutes clearing balls with diving headers and tough, crunching tackles.

This was a fine attacking display from Boro with Graham Westley’s men putting five goals past a mean Gateshead defence which had previously conceded only once in four matches.

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However this is the first time Boro had conceded three in the league this season and fans will be considering this a blip rather than as a sign of something more serious, and they’re probably right.

As the statistics show, Boro are a much better defensive unit than at the same point last year when they had already lost six games and conceded 28 times. This year, before this game, the figures had shown one and 12.

The blustery conditions made it a difficult start to the match for both teams as strong winds whirled their way around inside the Lamex Stadium making it difficult to judge the strength and accuracy of passes.

Too many Gateshead balls, in particular, were hoofed up field and carried on the wind out of play, while at the other end defending became difficult for the visitors as judging the flight of the ball going into the wind made things particularly troublesome.

The first 35 minutes were slow and tough for players and fans alike, but the game burst into life on 38 minutes when Andy Drury gave away a needless free kick and the set piece was hit into the box by Craig Baxter only for Griffin to flick the ball past keeper Chris Day and into the goal.

Rather than let his head drop, the Stevenage striker was soon making up for his mistake.

Less than a minute after scoring at one end he scored at the other after Gateshead defender James Curtis attempted to head a David Bridges long ball back to his keeper only to misjudge it and see Griffin nip in behind him to deftly lob the ball over Paul Farman and into the net from 16 yards.

Farman had been named Blue Square Premier player-of-the-month for his displays during October, but any hopes he may have had to repeat the feat for November were quashed in the space of seven minutes as he was beaten twice again before the break.

After shots by Bridges and Michael Bostwick, a ball by Odubade sent Mitchell Cole clear and the winger ran into the box from the left only to see his shot saved by Farman before he neatly squared the rebound to the chasing Odubade who finished with aplomb.

That was on 43 minutes, and three minutes into injury time Griffin got his second by heading a Scott Laird cross into the far corner to send the Boro faithful in raptures.

It was a remarkable turnaround.

Boro picked up where they had left off at the end of the first half in the second as both Bridges and Cole had shots at goal, but Gateshead were nothing if not resolute and they managed to pull one back on 72 minutes.

Chris Beardsley, on in place of Drury, lost a 50-50 tackle on the edge of his own box to Kris Gate who ran to the byline and pulled the ball back to the impressive Daryl Clare who poked in at the near post past Day.

Just with their first goal, Boro’s fourth came soon after a strike by their opponents. And again it was Griffin, whose low free kick under the wall went in off the post.

Gateshead were not out of it at even 4-2 down, and Clare pounced on to Alex Francis’ free kick after it had been palmed away by Day to give Boro the frighteners.

Gateshead pushed forward for a leveller, and went close once or twice, but the game was put to bed by a stunning Bostwick strike from 25 yards four minutes into injury time.

Boro (4-4-2): Day, Henry (Odhiambo, 52), Ashton, Roberts, Laird, Drury (Beardsley 65), Bostwick, Bridges, Cole, Odubade (Vincenti, 83), Griffin. Subs: Bayes, Long.

Gateshead (4-4-2): Farman, Baxter, Gate, Curtis, Turnbull (Francis, 76), Armstrong (One, 67), Harwood (Haworth, 63), Cave, Williams, Clare, Winn. Subs: Provett, Pelonade.

Attendance: 2,203

Referee: D Ford.