Hayes & Yeading United gave Church Road a fine send off both on and off the pitch as a vocal shed choir cheered the side to virtual safety with a 3-1 visit over Gateshead on what was a very sad night for those of us that have been going to Church Road regularly for many years.
Garry Haylock stuck with the same sixteen that saw of Darlington on Saturday and in much the same vein an early Bradley Pritchard strike set United on the way to victory. Ten minutes had elapsed when Elliott Buchanan sent skipper Peter Holmes away on the right, his low centre saw Pritchard get in front of Ben Clark to flick the ball up and out of the reach of Tim Deasy in the Heed goal.
Buchanan himself could have doubled the lead minutes later when he collected a long ball forwards and with Deasy off his line tried a lob that was just too high to cause alarm for the visitors. Two minutes later Gateshead created their first real opening as Michael Liddle found himself in space on the left, picking out Richard Offiong in the centre only for him to easily clear Lee Harrison's goal with his shot.
We had reached the midway mark in the half when a volleyed Tom Cadmore clearance saw Buchanan nip in front of Clark and again try to loft the ball over Deasy, once again the effort sailed over the Gateshead goal.
All of the openings in the final 10 minutes of the half fell to the visitors. Adam Bygrave timed a sliding block in the area perfectly to deny Jon Shaw before Phil Turnbull advanced from the halfway line and found Offiong who having lifted the ball over the advancing Harrison saw it nestle on top of the goal having cleared the crossbar.
Last chance of the half saw Clark meet a corner at the far post but again his effort was too high to trouble Harrison.
Two early chances came for United in the second half as a Steve Masterton free-kick from the left side of the area curled over the wall before striking the top of the crossbar and going over and then Holmes' deep cross was met by Sam Rents at the far post, from a very acute angle his effort flew across the face of goal and away to safety.
Minutes later the ball was in the net, sadly it was the United one as Ashley Winn collected a pass from Liddle and made space before hitting a shot from 18 yards that saw a defensive deflection wrong foot Harrison and the scores were level once more.
Hayes & Yeading were soon back in stride and pushing for the lead. Masterton broke away on the right and fired in a low cross to Holmes who saw his shot deflected over by a well placed defenders boot.
With 20 minutes remaining Garry made a telling substitution as Ben Wright replaced Lewis Ferrell, the big striker taking less than 60 seconds to give United the lead as he rose to meet Masterton's corner, powering a header beyond Deasy.
United continued to push for a third and after Buchanan did well to hold the ball up on the edge of the area it fell to Rents on the wing, his cross was headed out as far as Pritchard who hit a shot that was well blocked by a covering defender.
As the game entered stoppage time the Heed came very close to an equaliser as substitute James Marwood broke into the area only to be denied by a astute bit of keeping by Harrison who came out to meet the Gateshead man as he hit his shot.
The final say went to United with essentially the last Conference football kick at Church Road. Andy Yiadom wriggled his way into the Gateshead area only to be pulled back by Clark and referee Long duly awarded a spot kick. Lee Brown stepped up and sent Deasy the wrong way to seal a Church Road final win that as good as seals our place in the Blue Square Bet Premier in 2011/12.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Adam Bygrave.
Highlights courtesy of FC Video here.
Jamie Hand receives his Goal of the Season award from FC Video's Julian Fox.