United broke their run of three defeats in a row with a 3-1 win over Gateshead at Plainmoor.
Goals from David Fitzpatrick, Paul Rooney, and Brett Williams pushed United up to 17th place in the National League.
Kevin Nicholson brought his two new loan signings straight into the starting eleven. Defenders Aarran Racine and Jared Hodgkiss made their debuts but Racine’s afternoon was cut short in the 50th minute; the extent of his injury is yet to be confirmed. Defender Giancarlo Gallifuoco and Damon Lathrope made the bench after recovering from their respective injuries. It was the first time that Damon Lathrope had made the matchday squad since Aldershot visited Plainmoor in late October. Striker Shaun Harrad was left out of the matchday squad on compassionate grounds.
United opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation with Luke Young playing behind Brett Williams in attack.
United went into the half-time break a goal to the good but apart from that it was a very even half.
Sean McGinty nearly caught Gateshead ‘keeper Hanford off his line when his cross got a little too close for comfort in the 14th minute. Neither side had really gotten hold of the game in the opening stages.
A Luke Young free-kick found Aman Verma at the back post in the 29th minute. He met it with a side-foot effort that would have tested Hanford if not for a last second touch off a covering defender.
A great piece of play by David Fitzpatrick was the highlight of the 1st half and it resulted in a goal. He took on Gateshead James Bolton on a quick counter attack. The defender looked too unsure to put a challenge in and just before Fitzpatrick was forced too wide he thumped a low effort across Hanford and into the bottom corner.
United survived a few goalmouth scrambles before taking a 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
United had looked fairly composed at the back and new signings Aarran Racine and Jared Hodgkiss were showing their worth.
The second half had a bit of everything. Unfortunately it also saw an injury to Aarran Racine that meant an early exit for the man on loan from Forest Green.
In the 50th minute Racine went to ground challenging for the ball as Luke Hannant attempted to take the ball past him. Penalty to Gateshead! The innocuous coming together resulted in the game being stopped for roughly four minutes and Racine being replaced by Millwall loanee Paul Rooney.
Paddy McLaughlin beat Brendan Moore from the spot to equalize for Gatehead. Having guessed the right way, Moore was unlucky not to get something on the ball.
Rooney made a dramatic impact on the game when he met a free-kick by Dan Sparkes and guided the ball past Hanford. Sparkes has since questioned whether Rooney got a touch but the man from Dublin is claiming this one.
Gateshead had improved since the first half and neither side looked entirely comfortable defending.
In the 64th minute James Bolton had a header come off the bar.
United were creaking a little, and a mere minute later goalkeeper Brendan Moore pulled off a fantastic save to keep United in the lead. The ball fell to James Bolton just a few yards away from goal. Moore spread himself and saved with his left hand - it was a vital one.
More drama followed when substitute Danny Johnson had an effort come off the far post.
United were putting their bodies on the line, no more than captain Courtney Richards who stopped an almost certain goal on the 79th minute.
United looked a little nervous, but were certainly favourites to keep all three points heading into the final ten minutes. Brett Williams made the Yellow Army’s lives a little easier when he scored United’s third in added on time.
Williams never stopped running during the 90 minutes, and he got his reward. Gateshead were caught on the counter attack and if the Yellow Army wanted the chance to fall to anyone in that situation, then Brett Williams is that man. He teased the defender while opening up the angle to slot the ball past Hanford and into the bottom corner for his third goal in three games, and fifth of the season.