Battling Rovers hit back with style
MASSIVELY more convincing than the scoreline suggests, this restorative victory was not simply about character and endeavour.
Such qualities ought to have been a given from Forest Green's players after three straight Skrill Premier defeats, not to mention some searing criticism from their under-fire manager.
And they delivered considerably more, Yan Klukowski's fourth goal of the season putting the ship back on an even keel and restoring some faith in Dave Hockaday's capabilities at the helm.
Hockaday could have done without late disruption to his plans, but a hamstring injury to central defender Jamie Turley during the warm-up meant a first start of the season for Aarran Racine alongside loan signing George Pilkington.
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Gateshead unquestionably looked the more confident side from the off, James Marwood firing wide via a deflection in the eighth minute before Jordan Hugill met Colin Larkin's cross with a header that was held by Sam Russell.
Dissenting voices could already be heard emanating from the home fans, but it was Rovers who went in front in the 15th minute when Chris Stokes burst clear on the left and pulled the ball back for the onrushing Klukowski to ram home emphatically.
Magno Vieira saw an ambitious effort from range drop wide, and when Klukowski chanced his arm from similar range on 25 minutes it brought a decent diving save from Adam Bartlett.
Three minutes later Forest Green thought they were entitled to a penalty when Danny Wright pounced on Matthew Barnes-Homer's clever back-heel and was clumsily challenged from behind by Carl Magnay, but referee Colin Lymer was unmoved.
Momentum was now entirely with the hosts, and Wright ought to have done better than blaze over after being put clear by Al Bangura's perfectly weighted pass.
Barnes-Homer did better with a low effort from the edge of the penalty which nicked off a defender, but Heed keeper Bartlett watched it well.
Bartlett was called into action again two minutes before the break, tipping Klukowski's skidding free-kick around the post.
The resulting corner was taken by Klukowski and met by the head of Stokes two yards out, but somehow Bartlett managed to make a block and the ball was scrambled clear.
Rovers came agonisingly close to doubling their lead at the start of the second period when Stokes saw another header saved by Bartlett and the rebound was crashed against the underside of the crossbar by Barnes-Homer.
Hockaday must have been fearing missed chances would come back to haunt his side, and they survived a scare in the 59th minute when Larkin's cross was met by a flicked header by Phil Turnbull and the ball crept wide.
Five minutes later another glorious opportunity went begging at the other end, as substitute Andy Mangan picked out Jared Hodgkiss with a classy cross-field pass and the full-back failed to keep his effort down.
Mangan turned provider again when he picked out Barnes-Homer in the area, and only James Curtis' brave block prevented Bartlett being tested once more.
There was still time for an underhit back-pass by Anthony Barry to cause more palpitations in the home ranks, and Russell was fortunate to see his attempted clearance cannon off James Brown and fly off-target.
Forest Green: S Russell; J Hodgkiss, A Racine, G Pilkington, C Stokes; A Barry (K Forbes 78), A Bangura, Y Klukowski; M Vieira (A Mangan 61), D Wright (O Koroma 90), M Barnes-Homer; Subs not used: E Asafu-Adjaye, M Bulman.
Gateshead: A Bartlett; J Lelan (C Baxter 46), J Curtis, B Clark, C Magnay; M Cummins, P Turnbull, J Oster (L. Hatch 55), J Marwood; C Larkin, J Hugill (J. Brown 66); Subs not used: M Maddison, R Ramshaw.
Referee: C Lymer (Hampshire)
Star man: Aarran Racine – Composed and uncompromising after being drafted in for his first start of the season.