GARRY HILL is fast discovering that when Gavin McCallum scores, Woking inevitably win.
Cards’ Canadian forward netted for the third time in as many games as Hill’s side made it nine points from their last three outings.
McCallum ghosted in at the near post to tap-in Kevin Betsy’s 26th-minute cross after Jack Parkinson’s first ever Woking goal had given the hosts a sixth minute lead.
Gateshead were invited back into the match when a lapse in concentration allowed Phil Turnbull to thump the Tynesiders back into contention.
But despite a nervy conclusion, in which Chris Bush was sent-off for two bookable offences, Woking survived to move up to 12th in the table.
Hill, who admitted his side had to batten down the hatches after the break, said his players had done themselves proud.
He said: “It was a nervy finish but they were a good side and we knew that coming into the game.
“At half-time I wasn’t totally confident that we’d go on to win it. They are a dangerous outfit and we knew that we’d have to work hard for 90 minutes to get the win.
“All credit to the players – they are working hard and getting the results at the moment, they did well.
“We had 16 players here and that is our squad. I look at the 10 games we’ve played and I think we are worthy of the position we are in.
“We aren’t in a position to have big numbers at Woking but what we are trying to do is work very hard to achieve results.”
Cards started brightly and deservedly took a sixth-minute lead when summer signing Parkinson opened his Kingfield account.
The former Welling skipper was allowed to cut in on to his favoured right boot and tried his luck with a bending effort from 25 yards.
Adam Bartlett looked to have his far post covered, but a wicked deflection off Jamie Chandler wrong-footed the Gateshead keeper and Woking drew first blood.
The first-half continued at a frenetic pace and the visitors squandered two great chances to get themselves back into the game.
Aaron Howe was equal to Ryan Donaldson’s low strike before breathing a sigh of relief as Chris Bush planted his close-range header harmlessly into the keeper’s arms.
But the Cards, oozing with confidence bred from two wins on the spin, were not so forgiving in the final third and doubled their lead in the 26th minute.
Kevin Betsy glided across the turf to leave Bush for dead down the right flank.
His low cross found McCallum at the near post, and the winger made no mistake to steer home his third goal of the season.
Jamie Chandler’s side-foot volley produced a fingertip save from Howe but it was Woking who finished the half in the ascendancy.
Bradley Bubb latched on to a long clearance and dragged three Gateshead players down the right on a motoring 50-yard run.
His square ball was inch perfect, but James Curtis just beat the on-rushing Lee Swayer to the cross and denied the Cards ace a tap-in.
Parkinson squandered a great chance to make it three when he headed Joe McNerney’s clipped cross straight at Bartlett.
And the only real scare for Hill and Woking came when Carl Magnay rattled Howe’s crossbar two minutes before the break.
But Cards were guilty of resting on their laurels in the second period and their failure to build on their two goal lead only encouraged the visitors.
Woking’s keeper had to make a smart adjustment to push away Bush’s swerving strike just after the restart.
And he was at his best again in the 64th minute when he parried Yemi Odubade’s curling free-kick from the edge of the area wide for a corner.
Sandwiched between Howe’s flurry of saves Brett Johnson hit the post with a glancing header.
But the Cards have managed just one clean sheet all season and it was Gateshead who grabbed the game’s third goal when Woking fell asleep at a throw-in.
A quick throw released Nathan Fisher whose cross from the right was originally intended for Odubade.
But a clever dummy allowed Turnbull to ghost in unmarked and thump a 69th-minute lifeline through the legs of Howe.
Asked whether a single clean sheet in their opening 10 games was cause for concern, Hill robustly replied: “Not if we get more goals than the other team.”
“We’re playing against quality [opposition] now and with the greatest respect to the Conference South teams this jump is enormous.
“My boys have done very well over the first 10 games but we mustn’t get carried away – it’s going to be a long hard season for us.
“You can already see that teams can beat each other and we’ll have our up and downs over the season – we are prepared for that.
“Give me the magic 50 points and I’ll be happy.”
Bush hampered his side’s cause when – having already been booked for a scything tackle on Betsy – body-checked the same player to land himself a second yellow seven minutes from time.
Turnbull scorched a stoppage time effort just over the bar after Howe had closed down Ryan Donaldson.
But Woking survived to making it three wins in a row and lift themselves into the top half of the table.