With Thierry Audel out with a neck injury, Jake Caprice was recalled to the starting line-up for this Vanarama Conference clash at Gateshead. With Caprice slotting in at right-back, Tom Miller moved inside to partner Nat Brown in the centre of defence whilst a second change to the side that started the FA Cup tie at Eastleigh saw Delano Sam-Yorke come in for Jordan Burrow up front. Ben Tomlinson and Jon Nolan, meanwhile, returned from injury and were amongst the substitutes.
It was a cagey opening to the game with both sides taking their time to settle into proceedings with the first incident coming in the fifth minute with appeals for handball against Arnaud Mendy after a Miller clearance crashed against him being waved away by referee Jason Whiteley.
At the other end a quick City break in the 10th minute saw the overlapping Caprice win a corner but, after Sean Newton's delivery was cleared behind, his follow-up effort eventually found its way back to the full-back who fired wide of the target.
Gateshead's response saw Danny Wright test former Gateshead stopper Paul Farman with a 20-yard drive which the City keeper palmed behind. City dealt with the resultant corner and quickly went on the offensive and when Conner Robinson put a home defender under pressure and with referee Whiteley up with play the official spotted something untoward and was quick to award a penalty.
With the home fans airing their frustrations at the man in black, skipper ALAN POWER picked up the ball, planted it on the spot and duly fired past Adam Bartlett to put the Imps a goal in front with 16 minutes on the clock.
Gateshead's response saw Matty Pattison fire a foot over a couple of minutes later after Arnaud Mendy gave the ball away somewhat cheaply in the middle of the pitch. Shortly afterwards the home fans weren't happy as Oster saw yellow for a foul on Power and when the free-kick resulted in a corner, Bencherif was denied by an excellent save from Bartlett.
City kept pressing and from a Newton free-kick Miller powered a header against the woodwork and the Imps were made to pay for the lack of a second goal a couple of minutes later when Rob Ramshaw cut in from the right, he got in front of Nat Brown and quickly went to ground as soon as he go inside the box.
Referee Whiteley took his time before making a decision with the initial thoughts of him penalising the Gateshead man for diving, he pointed to the spot. Danny Wright did the honours from 12 yards to level matters.
City's heads didn't drop though, although they were forced to scramble away a 34th minute Gateshead corner whilst the Imps' response six minutes later saw Sam-Yorke shake off James Curtis but Bartlett held the striker's right-footed drive.
Just before the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of two minutes were to be added on Sam-Yorke did well to win a corner but Curtis cleared Newton's inswinger.
HT: GATESHEAD 1 IMPS 1
Gateshead restarted proceedings with neither side making any changes during the half-time break and it was the Imps who were the first to press with Bencherif firing over after a loose ball fell to him 25 yards from goal.
A foul on robinson then gave Newton the chance to whip in a free-kick but the home defence stood firm whilst in the 51st minute Gateshead centre-back Curtis was forced off with a cut to his head.
With Curtis still off receiving treatment, the assistant referee spotted a late challenge on Marshall by Nick Anderton as the City man went to swing in a cross. Referee Whiteley agreed and duly booked the Gateshead man.
Newton swung in the free-kick and after the heads went up, appeals for hand ball were ingored but alert to the situation was DELANO SAM-YORKE who prodded home from six yards to edge the Imps back in front.
Gateshead were quick to respond and when a cross came Wright headed down but Farman pulled off a superb save with his boot before City cleared the follow-up effort. The hosts kept up the pressure though and after the referee let play continue after Mendy tripped his man, the ball ran to Alex Rodman who drilled home from the edge of the area.
City's response saw keeper Bartlett flap at a Newton corner but as Gateshead broke, Miller upended scorer Rodman, picking up a caution in the process. Ben Tomlinson then replaced Conner Robinson for the Imps.
The hosts first switch saw Tom Heardman replace Jon Oster in the 66th minute whilst five minutes later Mendy needed treatment after harshly being penalised for a foul as he sprinted on to meet a Power ball. One on his feet Mendy limped off clutching his hamstring with Jon Nolan replacing him.
Jordan Burrow replaced Marcus Marshall with 10 minutes on the clock but the City striker hadn't had a chance to touch the ball before the home side took the lead for the first time; Pattison heading home after Farman failed to hold a Ramshaw shot.
Michael Rankine replaced Danny Wright for the hosts for the final four minutes, this coming just before Newton curled just wide from the edge of the box. Bartlett then held a deflected Bencherif effort as the Imps pressed forward again.
City kept pushing and when the advancing Miller was pushed over just inside the box, the assistant indicated an offence and after consultation, referee Whiteley awarded the Imps another penalty. Once things calmed down ALAN POWER fired into the roof of the net to make it 3-3.
Play continued into added time with Caprice booked for a trip on Turnbull five minutes in before a late challenge on Burrow by Rodman saw players from both sides go nose-to-nose. Once referee Whiteley sorted things out two minutes later Rodman and Sam-Yorke were booked for their part in the incident.
There was still time for City to deal with a Gateshead corner nine minutes into added time but once this was cleared, play eventually came to a close.
FT: GATESHEAD 3 IMPS 3
1 Paul FARMAN
17 Jake CAPRICE
2 Tom MILLER
23 Nat BROWN
3 Sean NEWTON
12 Arnaud MENDY
5 Hamza BENCHERIF
8 Alan POWER
22 Marcus MARSHALL
16 Conner ROBINSON
15 Delano SAM-YORKE
9 Jordan BURROW (for MARSHALL 80)
10 Karl LEDSHAM
11 Ben TOMLINSON (for ROBINSON 62)
14 Jon NOLAN (for MENDY 73)
26 Nick TOWNSEND
GOALS: POWER (17 pen, 90+1 pen), SAM-YORKE (54)
BOOKINGS: MILLER (61), CAPRICE (90+5), SAM-YORKE (90+8)
1 Adam BARTLETT
5 James CURTIS
6 Ben CLARK
7 John OSTER
8 Phil TURNBULL
12 Rob RAMSHAW
16 Craig BAXTER
21 Nick ANDERTON
23 Alex RODMAN
25 Matty PATTISON
29 Danny WRIGHT
2 Andrai JONES
10 Lewis GUY
15 Tom ALLAN
19 Michael RANKINE (for WRIGHT 86)
22 Tom HEARDMAN (for OSTER 66)
GOALS: WRIGHT (29 pen), RODMAN (59), PATTISON (81)
BOOKINGS: OSTER (24), ANDERTON (53), RODMAN (90+8)
REFEREE: Jason Whiteley
ASSISTANTS: Mark Powell & James Bell
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Andrew Miller
ATTENDANCE: 1,211 (103 City supporters)