A second half masterclass, all be it with the aid of an extra man after a Gateshead sending off, saw Wrexham brush past their North East opposition four goals to nil at the Racecourse.
Goals from Robbie Evans, Blaine Hudson and a brace from playmaker Dominic Vose saw the Dragons comfortably see off the Tynesiders, with four second half finishes.
A minute’s silence started off today’s meeting as the players and crowd paid respects to the victims of the recent Paris attacks, as well as Remembrance Sunday.
Gary Mills was forced into a late change to the team sheet, as Javan Vidal, who has been plagued with injuries all season, had to be replaced by Blaine Hudson in the starting line-up, with Ross White promoted to the bench.
The first half brought very few chances, with conditions more suited to Rugby than a game of free flowing football between two promotion hunting teams.
Both sides were locked on 31 points before the game today, and a win would be enough to take either side into the play-off positions.
In a cold, wet and windy affair, something that will have suited the North East visitors today, it was in fact Wrexham’s Wes York who had the first chance, with the winger’s shot skidding off the surface forcing Gateshead’s Sam Russell to fumble, but the keeper managed to recover before any on looking Wrexham players could pounce.
In the ninth minute, Gateshead’s Daniel Johnson was played through on goal forcing a collision between Blaine Hudson and his keeper Rhys Taylor, as the on-loan Newport man came sprinting off his line to clear any danger, taking out his centre half in the process.
Gateshead’s first and only real chance of the match came in the 16th minute as Johnson’s goal bound volley was blocked by Hudson for a corner.
The best chance of the half came for the home side on the 25th minute. Newton’s powerful header from Vose’s corner forced a great save from Russell, with the keeper getting down low to tip the ball round the post.
In the 31th minute, Gateshead’s Paddy McLaughlin was booked for a late challenge on Adriano Moke, followed up by his teammate Gus Mafuta also going in the book less than a minute later for another late tackle, this time on Jon Nolan.
The 41st minute brought the most controversial moment of the match; Jennings flicking the ball onto Vose, who turned Gateshead’s Nathan Buddle and was subsequently brought down, with screams from the crowd for a red card as Buddle seemed to be the last man but no booking given.
As the teams came out for the second half hoping to finally break the deadlock, Gateshead were dealt a huge blow within three minutes, as McLaughlin received his second yellow of the match and his marching orders from the referee, after a cynical foul on Nolan.
In the 52nd minute, Wrexham had a huge chance to find the net, after neat link up play between York and Jennings, the ball eventually found the feet of Nolan, who seven yards out falls over his feet and makes poor contact with the ball, a certain to make the Christmas football bloopers DVD.
Two minutes later and Wrexham finally opened the scoring. Rob Evans headed home from five yards out after Jenning’s clever cut back from the edge of the box. Jennings managed to wriggle free in the box and gifted the midfielder with the simplest of headers past Russell. The Racecourse erupts to celebrate with their home-grown hero.
Wrexham continued to dominate with their extra man advantage, as Newton’s drilled cross nearly finding the far post, Gateshead then had to weather a further storm of chances at the Racecourse as the Tynesiders struggled to get out of their own half.
The resulting storm proved too much for Gateshead as Wrexham then doubled their lead in the 65th minute, a goalmouth scramble from Vose’s corner left Hudson two yards out to make it two-nil, as the centre half has started to become a prolific scorer this season.
Vose then put his name in the hat for goal of the season as he made it 3-0 just four minutes later. A superb solo run as the playmaker took on the whole of the Gateshead defence, jinking in and out, beating six players in the process and keeping a cool head to fire past Russell into the bottom corner.
With 15 minutes left, Wrexham put the game beyond their visitors. As Vose grabbed his second of the game. Another clever bit of play from Jennings found Vose on the edge of the box and his well hit shot was too much to keep out as it flew into the top corner.
The final stages of the game passed by with Wrexham happy to pass the ball across the back four, conserving energy and keeping their first clean sheet at home since Grimsby back in September.
Gary Mills managing to get his first win over his former club in a dominating 4-0 victory, as his Red and White army kept their promotion hopes alive with another positive home result.
Wrexham: Taylor, Smith, Fyfield, Hudson, Newton; Nolan (Caton 72), Moke, Evans (Carrington 69); York, Jennings (Gray 77), Vose.
Subs: White, Jackson.
Gateshead: Russell, Pattison, Clark, Mafuta (Baxter 73), Buddle, Cranston, Bowman (Phillips 56), Johnson (Shaw 78), Honeyman, Ramsden, McLaughlin.
Subs: Curtis, MacDonald.
Referee: Adrian Holmes (Yorkshire)
Red Cards -
Gateshead: McLaughlin (48, second yellow)
Gateshead: Paddy McLaughlin (31, foul), Mafuta (32, foul)