Gateshead added insult to Eastbourne Borough’s injury on Tuesday night, easing to a victory which was as predictable as it was painful.
It was a match few of the Sports squad or management would have been relishing.
They boarded the coach for the 358-mile trip north just two days after Saturday’s home humiliation against Fleetwood.
That defeat realistically extinguished any slim survival hopes Borough might have held; they knew they were on a hiding to nothing at Gateshead.
The chasm between the sides, on the night and in the standings – Ian Bogie’s team now sit in 11th, 24 points above Borough – demonstrates the benefits of full-time status.
After struggling last season, the Heed went full time during the summer and they have reaped the rewards of daily training.
The weary minds and bodies stood firm until the second half against the Tynesiders, but strikes from Jon Shaw and a double from Andy Ferrell after the interval sealed their fate.
Garry Wilson’s men are not mathematically relegated but they must win all four of their remaining Blue Square Bet Premier fixtures to have any hope of surviving.
Failing that, they could always cross their fingers and hope that a number of their rivals fall into financial difficulty, as has happened in seasons past. But that’s a long shot even Matt Smart would struggle to dream up.
The Sports did at least hold their own during the first period at the Gateshead International Stadium. They may have been outclassed on Saturday but Wilson’s squad are a proud bunch.
There was a nervous moment for Darren Baker, now 902 not out, after just two minutes, when his under-hit back pass was pounced on by Nathan Fisher, but the striker couldn’t steer his effort past Rikki Banks.
The same player threatened again mid-way through the half, heading Ferrell’s cross against the post. But the visitors might have punished the home side’s profligacy, when Jamie Taylor capitalised on goalkeeper Tim Deasy’s misplaced pass, only to see the stopper smother his shot.
It was a different story after the break. In the 51st minute Shaw, a striker brimming with non-league experience, picked up James Curtis’ pass before slotting past Banks into the bottom corner. Seven minutes later it was two when Ferrell made his mark from close range. And after Sports midfielder Simon Johnson had seen his effort tipped over the bar, the hosts secured the points, Ferrell curling in a fine effort in added time.
Gateshead: Deasy, Baxter, Curtis, Clark, Liddle, Marwood (Winn 84), Ferrell, Turnbull, Gillies, Shaw (Mulligan 76), Fisher.
Subs not used: Farman, Heckingbottom, Rundle.
Goals: Shaw 51, Ferrell 59, 90
Eastbourne Borough: Banks, Baker, Austin, Hutchinson, Demetriou, Taylor (Purcell 78), Matt Crabb (Strevett 83), Brinkhurst, Johnson, Kelly, Pacquette (Weatherstone 77).
Subs not used: Smart.
Att: 617 Ref: Darren Bond