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Telford boss Paul Carden: Gateshead are best side I've seen

AFC Telford United boss Paul Carden felt last night's victors Gateshead were the best side he has seen in National League North this season.

Bucks boss Paul Carden, right, was left with much to mull over following last night's reverse in the north east. Pic: Kieren Griffin
Bucks boss Paul Carden, right, was left with much to mull over following last night's reverse in the north east. Pic: Kieren Griffin

The Heed came from behind to sweep aside the visiting Bucks 4-1 as Carden's men returned to action following a Covid-enforced 16-day absence.

A much-changed Telford side featured four full debuts – Andre Wright, Liam Nolan, Brayden Shaw and Jordan Piggott – started strongly but were pegged back and fell behind by half-time. The hosts struck twice more after the break to climb top of National North.

Gateshead have been under the player-manager stewardship of former Newcastle and Wolves stopper Mike Williamson since 2019, having been demoted from the Premier division that year, and Carden was left impressed by what he saw.

"My thoughts are they are the best team in the division, not much has changed from last night in that regard," Carden said.

"We tried, we were 100 per cent wholehearted but it was in vain, it wasn't enough.

"They play a way which is good, clever, well-drilled, you can see they work on it. I watched them in the warm-up and you could see they set up to do that.

"That comes not only from good coaching and time to coach on the training ground, but also from intelligent players as well.

"From what I saw they had a lot of intelligent players, each of them understood their role and knew how to use the ball. There's a bit of a gulf of quality and ability to bring that out from the rest of the division.

"I've seen a lot of other clubs, top and bottom, and I do think they're a level above everything in the division."

Midfielder Mace Goodridge, another Telford recruit of Carden's, fired his first Bucks goal with an excellent strike two minutes in to hand the visitors a surprise lead – one they held for half an hour until Cedwyn Scott drew Gateshead level.

Paul Blackett slid in before the break to edge the hosts ahead before the same man struck again after the interval and substitute Macaulay Langstaff made it four.

Rock-bottom Telford, still five points adrift of safety, have won just one of their last 19 league games and just twice all season.

They turn their attention to huge back-to-back Saturday home fixtures against mid-table Darlington and fellow strugglers Bradford Park Avenue, the first of which Carden admits is a must-win game for his side.

Midfield duo Nolan and Shaw this week checked in from AFC Fylde and Connah's Quay, with particular optimism around the former's loan deal.

Striker Wright arrived on a permanent deal after ending a spell in Irish football with versatile defender Piggott on loan from Solihull Moors.

Those inclusion left regulars including skipper Adam Walker, striker Jason Oswell and returning key man Brendon Daniels on the bench.

Carden explained his selection was at least partly with fitness in mind. He added: "I was pleased (with the new boys). Nobody at that game could say anybody didn't put effort in or give their all.

"But where we are we need to get the new lads up to speed because they haven't played a lot of football.

"It was important to do that, albeit against a top side who dominate possession, so you know you're going to have to run, so that was more thinking on my selection, they would have to run hard."

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