Eddie Thomas netted a hat-trick on Wednesday night as Gateshead progressed with a six-goal win over Silksworth CW in the Durham Challenge Cup.
Ben Clark took charge of a Heed side mixed with youth and experience against as Jack Hunter, Elliot Forbes, Ryan Wombwell and Pani joined a host of under-19’s in the starting line-up.
Nash opened the scoring with only eight minutes gone to hand Clark’s lads a flying start as he cut in from the left and fired a low shot past Matthew Pattison.
Four minutes later, and Gateshead made it two as Thomas raced forward to tap home the rebound after Pattison parried Hunter’s initial shot towards the far post.
Pattison redeemed himself shortly afterwards, reacting quickly to keep Pani’s powerful header out after a pinpoint cross from Kyle Errington on the left wing.
Rhys McLeod was next to try his luck as The Heed pressed for a third but saw his 20-yard strike clear the crossbar, before Pani headed wide from inside the area.
Silksworth felt they should have had the chance to pull a goal back from the penalty spot on the half-hour-mark when Liam Mulvaine glided into the box before going down under pressure, though the referee was quick to wave away his immediate protests.
Pani finally grabbed his goal, and Gateshead’s third, four minutes after the restart with a fine low drive from the edge of the box as Clark’s side established control early on in the second 45.
Goalkeeper Tom Thebe had to be alert to keep his clean sheet intact moments later, keeping substitute Joe Jones’ first-time effort out with his feet while at the other end Thomas put a chance over the bar.
Thomas made no mistake in netting his second with 67 minutes on the clock however as he raced onto a ball forward and lofted over Pattison to add Gateshead’s fourth of the night.
McLeod got himself on the scoresheet with four minutes to go to add sheen to the scoreline when he slammed home Ben Guneyogullari’s lay-off, before Thomas converted from the penalty spot to earn his hat-trick.
Gateshead XI: Thebe, Nelson (Doughty, 74’), Errington, Hunter, Wombwell, Forbes, McLeod, Pani, Thomas, Leech (Guneyogullari, 80’), Nash.
Substitutes: Wilson, Chatt, Young.
Goals: Nash (8’), Thomas (12’, 67’, 89’), Pani (49’), McLeod (86’)
Silksworth CW XI: Pattison, Readman (Antliff, 64’), Tench, Stewart, Perry (c), D. Thompson, C. Thompson, Hucks, Mulvaine (Jones, 46’), Dagg, Crosby.
Substitutes: Graham, Blakey, Chappell.