Aldershot Town began their weekend clash against Gateshead with one of the goals of the season, but ended it ruing poor defending and a controversial winner as a visit to the International Stadium proved a hurdle too far for Barry Smith’s resurgent Shots.
Rhys Browne’s delicious close-range chip over goalkeeper Sam Russell ended a flowing 14-pass move in the sixth minute - a goal which went viral on the internet - and the Shots showed sufficient character to then drag themselves level again just before half time.
Yet two soft goals and an apparent foul on Joe Oastler, as he rose to head Paddy McLaughlin’s 52nd-minute free kick clear of danger, contrived to consign the Shots to a first defeat in five.
“When you score two goals away from home, you should get something from the game” admitted Smith.
"[But] we probably didn’t do enough to win it. We allowed too many crosses and to lose two goals from crosses is frustrating as we know the lads can do better.”
Bowman headed McLaughlin’s free kick wide of goal early on, but the game’s first genuine chance was fashioned quite beautifully.
Ross Lafayette spread play to Browne, who cut inside and made an incisive exchange of passes with Charlie Walker before bursting past two final challenges into the penalty area.
Still he had to face the onrushing Russell, and his deft dinked finish was a fitting end to a stunning passage of play.
Bowman’s teasing 28th-minute cross nearly embarrassed Phil Smith as it looped underneath the crossbar, but the striker did equalise on 35 minutes as he held off Oastler to power in a header from Holden’s cross.
Bowman was again involved two minutes later, as the lively CJ Hamilton scuffed a shot into his path on the edge of the six-yard box.
Three Shots defenders were drawn to him, leaving Hamilton in space to receive a return pass from which he measured a shot across goal and into the net.
Still, though, a topsy-turvy half had one final twist for the 150 travelling Shots fans, as Lafayette dummied Dan Walker’s low cross, allowing the onrushing Gallagher to stroke in a 42nd minute equaliser from seven yards.
Walker again crossed for Lafayette on 51 minutes, but his tightly-angled header was clutched on the line by Russell, and the game’s decisive moment came just seconds later.
McGinty’s cheap foul invited McLaughlin to float in an in-swinging free kick which found Oastler jumping ahead of Bowman. A push in the back appeared to knock Oastler off balance but, as the ball skimmed off his head into the net, appeals were in vain.
Shots tried to muster a head of steam but two angled cross-shots, from Dan Walker and, on 88 minutes, Rhys Browne, were the sum total of their efforts. Ultimately, Gateshead were relatively comfortable, as substitute Matty Pattison took control of the midfield and the sting out of the game.
Nonetheless, Smith remained upbeat ahead of this weekend's trip to Welling, adding: “We gave everything we had and on another day it finishes 2-2.
“The referee has a difficult job but he’s made the wrong decision and it’s cost us.”