Southport hearts were broken as Gateshead scored with virtually the last kick of the game to earn a point at the Pure Stadium.
Southport got their day off to an ideal start as Niall Watson played a low ball across the mouth of the goal with Marcus Carver flicking it beyond Jacob Chapman with a delightful backheel.
Gateshead almost equalised with the next chance of the game as Macauley Langstaff was played through 1-on-1 but a late recovering challenge from Chris Doyle kept Port in the lead.
Gateshead continued to enjoy the majority of possession for the next 20 minutes as they looked to bring the scores level including numerous set-pieces but the Heed struggled to threaten Cam Mason’s goal, failing to clear the wall and missing the target on multiple occasions.
But with the 25-minute mark looming Gateshead started to turn their sustained pressure into golden opportunities. The first fell to Matthew Jacob as he cut back on the edge of the Southport shot before sending a curling shot goalwards, only denied by a superb acrobatic save from Mason.
Then just two minutes later the visitors went even closer, Langstaff beating the Southport offside trap before lashing a venomous shot over the crossbar when it looked easier to score, a huge let-off for Port.
Port had a chance to double their lead just after half an hour as Carver curved his run superbly to beat the offside trap but his first touch took him into a tight angle and the save for Chapman was routine.
Gateshead continued to push for an equaliser as Southport sat deep and almost had it in the 37th minute as Langstaff directed a free-header on the penalty spot wide.
But despite Heed’s dominance, it would be Port that would strike next as a trademark long throw from Jack Doyle caused chaos in the visitor’s penalty area, eventually landing at the feet of Josh Hmami who fired beyond Chapman from the edge of the box.
Once again the hands of Cam Mason saved Southport on the hour mark as a back-heel inside the box saw Langstaff eye-to-eye with the Southport shot-stopper but Mason got down quickly to make a breathtaking save and deny the Heed number 7.
Mason was once again the hero five minutes later as Paul Blackett cut back a ball to Langstaff who was once again denied by the keeper from seven yards.
Mason’s trio of superb saves was completed two minutes later as Owen Bailey rose above all others at a corner, heading goalwards but Mason pounced like a cat to paw the ball onto the crossbar.
But for all his efforts to keep the visitors out, it was Mason who was at fault for Gateshead’s goal as he spilt a fairly tame shot at the feet of Blackett who fired home from close range.
Gateshead’s celebrations were cut short just a minute later as a Josh Hmami shot was handled inside the penalty area with referee Richard Aspinall pointing to the penalty spot. With regular penalty taker Marcus Carver already off the pitch, it was up to Niall Watson to step up and slot the ball into the corner of the net restoring Port’s two-goal lead.
The Heed were down but not out as they continued to look for a way back into the game, Adam Campbell striking the post on the 77th minute before Cedwyn Scott would once again cut the lead to one as he twisted and turned inside the box before firing into the bottom corner.
Southport had the chance to wrap the game up on the 90-minute mark when a counter-attack saw some brilliant interplay between Jordan Archer and Dylan Vassallo with the latter getting through one-on-one but being denied by Jacob Chapman.
Port would come to rue that missed chance as Macauley Langstaff broke Port hearts in the last minute of stoppage time, his shot ricocheting off a Southport defender before smashing against the crossbar and over the line.
Southport travel to Brackley Town next Saturday.
Report By James Houghton
Southport (4-3-3): Mason Tharme , C. Doyle, Anson, J. Doyle ; Bainbridge , Hmami Munro (Vassallo 63 ); Buckley-Ricketts (Oliver 75 ), Carver (Archer 55 ), Watson
Unused subs: Woods, McMillan
Gateshead (4-3-3): Chapman ; Tinkler , Nicholson , Storey , Jacob ; Bailey , Olley , Ward (Blackett 58); Campbell, Langstaff , Scott
Unused subs: Guthrie, Pani, Wombwell
Southport Brewery Man of the Match: Cam Mason
Match Photos by Julia Urwin, Ian Fairbrother and Sean Walsh HERE