By Rory Drake
Setting The Scene
Gateshead make the 640-mile round trip to the south coast to face Eastleigh in a game where both teams are desperate for the three points maintain their push for a play-off spot.
Gateshead go into the game five without a win and knowing that a defeat would all but end any hopes of extending the season.
Eastleigh currently sit in the final play-off spot, with a four-point cushion over Gateshead, but with Ebbsfleet United and Sutton United also right on their tail.
Eastleigh themselves have struggled for form in recent weeks, losing four of their last five games and have dropped six points from winning positions over the last two games, having been 2-0 up against Fylde before losing 4-2, and having twice taken the lead against Leyton Orient on Tuesday night but losing the game 3-2.
Both sides know they are going to have to turn their form around if they are to be one of the six sides playing in to May, and both will be looking for Saturday’s game to be the start of that turnaround.
Gateshead have no injury worries going into the game with all 16 senior players available.
What We’re Saying
Speaking on Thursday ahead of the game, Ben Clark said: “It’s the biggest game of the season now, we’ve got to win all four if you’ve got aspirations of trying to get in the play-offs.
“I think we’re playing as well as we can. It has been difficult, we’ve got a thin squad some of the players probably do need a rest, but it is what it is.
“One point from the last five games is not acceptable, we know that, but the performances themselves have not been too bad. I think we need to win ugly, and I’ll take that on Saturday.”
What They’re Saying
Speaking to Eastleigh’s media team after defeat at Leyton Orient on Tuesday, manager Ben Strevens said: “I’m gutted. I’m honestly gutted. We’ve been beaten by a good side tonight and hopefully for them and this crowd they go on to win the league now.
“I’m just concentrating on us and thinking that we’ve just got to bounce back and be ready for Gateshead on Saturday.
“The last four games are massive now. I had a certain points tally that I wanted us to hit and that was to get to 73 points as that got the play-offs last season.
“We’re still on 67, do I think 73 will be enough to get into the play-offs? Now maybe not, it might be more.
“Whatever happens in the next four games they’ve been a credit to this football club, each and every one of them.”
Gateshead have won just one of four visits to the Silverlake Stadium. Eastleigh ran out 3-2 winners last season, with Ben Strevens scoring in the dying seconds after Gateshead had come back from 2-0 down.
Gateshead’s only win came in 2015, where Danny Johnson and Jimmy Phillips goals had the Heed 2-0 up before half time. Eastleigh’s now manager, Strevens, played a big role again, being sent off a minute into the second half. A Simon Ramsden own goal reduced the deficit with 10 minutes to go, but Gateshead held on for three points, finishing the day third in the table.
The other two meetings on the south coast between the sides have finished level.
Adult – £12
Concesstion (Over 60s/Student) – £8
Under 18 – £4
Under 7 – Free
Last Time We Met
Gateshead were made to rue missed chances as Josh Hare’s strike helped Eastleigh to victory at the International Stadium.
After an uneventful first half, Gateshead started to look dangerous after the break. The hosts hit the woodwork twice through Robbie Tinkler but were unable to beat Max Stryjek.
With just over 10 minutes to play, Hare broke the deadlock for the spitfires who held out to claim the win.
Gateshead XI: Pears; Tinkler, Kerr, Mike Williamson, Mellish, Barrow © (Salkeld 79’); Olley, Molyneux, White; Rigg, Boden
Subs not used: Foden, Hunter, Forbes, Devitt
Bookings: White (75)
Eastleigh: Stryjek, Hare, Wynter, Boyce, Johnson ©, Green, Gobern (McCallum 61’), Yeates (Constable 88’), Payne, Miley, Zebroski (Ben Williamson 69’)
Subs not used: Flitney, Dennett
Goals: Hare (77)
Referee: Josh Scott
Attendance: 655 (18 Eastleigh)
MOTM: Robbie Tinkler