Gateshead make the trip to the Swansway Chester Stadium this weekend, and face a Blues side unbeaten in the league this calendar year.
Marcus Bignot’s side were defeated in the FA Trophy last time out however, as National League South side East Thurrock claimed a 1-0 victory down in Essex. Calvin Epiteta netted the only goal of the encounter before the break, and the Rocks now face Spennymoor Town in the next round.
The Heed have won twice in their previous six league encounters, but haven’t notched a victory in any competition since in the turn of the new year.
Former-Macclesfield Town assistant Steve Watson was installed as manager at the Gateshead International Stadium following the departure of Neil Aspin to League Two side Port Vale back in October.
Arguably Gateshead’s most influential player Luke Hannant also made the move to North Staffordshire during this week, and linked up with his former Manager for an undisclosed fee.
What the Gaffer said
“I’m really looking forward to Saturday – because I know what their Manager is going to be saying in the dressing room. It will be about the environment – the old classic ‘keep them quiet for 20 minutes and the fans will turn’. So, we as players have got to make sure it is not a quiet 20 minutes, and the supporters have got to make sure their Manager is not right. That is the key. If players are not winning their tackles or headers or not tracking back, I will join in with the fans in getting on their backs about it. There’s a fine line – we have a lot of young players. We need to always encourage on the ball first time, second time we remind them and third time we say they need to be better. So there is an understanding. The big challenge will be if we go a goal down. Are you as fans going to support us, or is the atmosphere going to turn into the advantage of the opposition? I know the answer. They’re going to support us because they are going to see players who are going to fight for everything. Judge us off the ball, not on it. On the ball, lets encourage the living daylights out of our players.”
– Blues boss Marcus Bignot’s ardent plea in the press this week
Club Historian Chas Sumner picks out some stats ahead of the game…
- This is the fifth meeting between the sides in the city since 2010. Chester have won two, lost one and drawn one
- Gateshead won last seasons corresponding fixture 2-1. Blaine Hudson scored for the Blues as Liam Roberts played his final match on loan from Walsall
- Neil Young took charge of Chester for the final time in the home game against Gateshead in December 2013 which finished 1-1
- When Chester beat the Heed 4-2 in the final game of the 2015/16 season, Ross Hannah scored twice with the other goals scored by Kane Richards and Ryan Higgins
- The last Football League meeting between the sides in the city was a Division Four fixture at Sealand Road in October 1959 which Chester won 4-2
One to watch
Paddy McLaughlin – Midfielder
A box-to-box midfielder oozing with National League experience, McLaughlin has proved to be a key player for the Heed this season.
Originally from Northern Ireland, the 26-year old graduated from the Newcastle United youth system, but didn’t make any first team appearances for the Magpies.
A two year stint at York City soon followed, and McLaughlin played his role in securing the Minstermen promotion in 2012.
The centre midfielder then made the move to Grimsby Town for two full seasons, but found his home at Gateshead in 2015.
Kick off at the Swansway Chester Stadium tomorrow is 3pm. Ticket prices can be found here