Setting the scene
Having disposed of the title favourites in midweek, the Heed come into Saturday’s game hoping to maintain a 100% start to the season.
Gateshead host a Dover Athletic side who are making the mammoth 690-mile round trip from Kent looking for their first win of the season.
Dover lost 1-0 against Wrexham in their opening game of the season and then named an unchanged line-up at Bromley on Tuesday night. Bromley’s Dan Johnson put the home side ahead after three minutes, but goals from Jamie Allen and Kevin Lokko had Dover in front and on course for three points, until an 89th-minute penalty from Frankie Sutherland rescued a point for Bromley with the match finishing 2-2.
While still very early, Dover sit 16th in the league after two games, a position that is unfamiliar territory for Chris Kinnear’s side.
Dover have finished in the top half every year since their promotion in 2014, making the play-offs in their second season before narrowly missing out in the last two.
It was only goal difference that denied the Kent side a spot in the play-off’s last season, but they have faced a summer of rebuilding after losing their four top goal scorers from last season over the summer.
Striker Ryan Bird finished the season with 16 goals but moved to Maidenhead United this summer. Winger Mitch Pinnock finished second top scorer for Dover and has moved to League One side AFC Wimbledon, while centre-back’s Manny Parry and Giancarlo Gallifuoco were both in and amongst the goals and have moved on with Parry joining Boreham Wood and Gallifuoco joining Italian side Rieti.
In terms of incomings, Dover have opted for players with National League experience. Towering defenders Tim Schmoll, Moussa Diarra and Kevin Lokko arrive from Aldershot, Barrow and Stevenage, the latter having been on loan at Dover last season.
At the other end of the pitch, Inih Effiong has returned to the National League after a spell in Scotland with Ross County, with winger Anthony Jeffrey joining from Sutton United. Dover have also strengthened in midfield with the experienced Bedsente Gomis joining from Barrow.
Scott Barrow (ankle) is the only confirmed absence as a few players look to shake off bumps and bruises from Tuesday night’s win over Salford. Steven Rigg is still waiting for his international clearance and will be hoping to be available for selection on Saturday.
What We’re Saying
Gateshead manager Steve Watson commented: “I can only go off what I’ve always saw when going against Dover which is an incredibly competitive side, getting the ball forward as quickly as possible and winning those second and third balls which is where we need to be on our guard.
“And when we do get the chance to play and the game calms down, we have to play with the same freedom and positivity as we did on Tuesday night.”
Watch Watson’s full press conference here
What They’re Saying
Dover manager Chris Kinnear commented as he takes on the challenge of another season at Crabble: “More than half the side are new but we do this every year don’t we?
“We just can’t keep our players, off they go and we have to keep re-building. It’s not easy doing it every year but we’ve just got to get on with it.
“I started here (as manager) in 1986, obviously I’ve been off and done other things but I don’t feel any different, I’ve still got that same ambition.
“I’ve had a great career here in what we’ve achieved but I want to do even better. I want to get into the League with a team, obviously hopefully Dover, so that’s what drives me.
“I look in the mirror and I’m a little bit older but in my brain I don’t feel any different at all.”
Dover have won six of the eight meetings between the sides since they were promoted to the National League in 2014. Gateshead’s two positive results against the Whites have both came in the previous two encounters at the International Stadium with a 0-0 draw in Steve Watson’s first home match in charge and a 4-2 victory the season prior.
Tickets are priced as follows:
Adults – £15
NUFC/SAFC season ticket holders – £10
Concessions – £8
16-17-year-olds/students – £5
Under-16s – £3
Under-12s – FREE (with a paying adult)
Family ticket (2 adults + 2 under-16s) – £25
Last time we met
GATESHEAD’S final away game of the 2017/18 National League season ended in typically dramatic fashion as they were beaten 3-2 at Dover Athletic.
First-half goals from defenders Theo Vassell and Giancarlo Gallifuoco saw the sides go in level at the break. Second half penalties at either end from Dover’s Ryan Bird and later Gateshead’s Danny Johnson meant the game looked to be heading for a 2-2 draw before a late goal from Adebayo Azeez saw Dover claim all three points.
Dover: Walker, Ilesanmi, Gallifuoco, Parry, Essam (Marsh-Brown 87), Brundle (c), Pinnock (Pessley 73), Pinnock, Bird (Azeez 79), Nortey, Jeffrey, Lokko
Subs not used: Daniel, Bellamy
Bookings: Pinnock (58), Brundle (90+3)
Goals: Gallifuoco (38), Bird (Pen 68), Azeez (89)
Gateshead: Hanford; Vassell, Kerr, Byrne, Mellish (York 73), Barrow; Penn, McLaughlin; Langstaff (Preston 64); Johnson, Burrow (Peniket 64)
Subs not used: Montgomery, Green
Bookings: York (80), Preston (82)
Goals: Vassell (21), Johnson (Pen 84)
Referee: Gary Patsons
Attendance: 1,424 (28 Gateshead)
MOTM: Theo Vassell