By Dominic Scurr
Setting The Scene
After two postponements already, Guiseley and Gateshead may finally meet in the National League at Nethermoor Park this season – over two months after the originally scheduled fixture date.
The match was initially due to be played on December 2 but FA Cup commitments for both sides saw it pushed back to a Tuesday evening in January before a frozen pitch meant it was rearranged once again.
Both sides will be hoping it’s third time lucky and the game goes ahead on Tuesday as they both look to bounce back from 2-1 defeats at the weekend.
Guiseley currently sit at the foot of the National League table and nine points off safety. They will be banking for another late-season charge to propel them to safety for a third consecutive season.
Gateshead’s eight-game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of AFC Fylde at the weekend, with a brace from top scorer Danny Rowe proving to be the difference between the sides.
The Heed occupy 15th spot in the table – 10 points off the relegation zone and 12 off the play-offs. With only one other National League game taking place on Tuesday evening (Barrow v Sutton) the Tynesiders will be wanting to capitalise on their game in hand as a victory could see them move up to 13th in the table and further close the gap on the top half.
Defenders Neill Byrne and Fraser Kerr both picked up minor calf injuries over the weekend and will likely be rested for the trip to Nethermoor Park.
What We’re Saying
Ahead of Tuesday night’s National League match, Gateshead manager Steve Watson said: “I’m pleased the game has come around so quickly.
“As I said on Saturday, we weren’t good enough, certainly for the first half hour where we ultimately lost the game.
“So we’re pleased to be given the chance to rectify things so soon. We had a good chat this morning with the lads and they weren’t happy with their performance either and they’ve responded well in training with a very good session.
“Looking at Guiseley, they are fighting at the bottom and games like that can be difficult for us as the away team. They took the lead against Macclesfield at the weekend and gave the league leaders a very tough game.
“I’ve spoken with the lads from Macclesfield about Guiseley because they are a tough, physical side who are desperate for points.
“Teams like that can tend to find a little bit more in their performance so we will have to do that as well. We need to match, their energy and physicality and hope the quality from our players shines through on the night.
“Going away from home holds no fear for us. This is one of our shortest trips so there are no problems in that respect.
“We’ve got a few injury doubts as everyone saw on Saturday but we’ll take things on the day and see where everyone is fitness-wise before the game.
“It’s just the nature of the league, the games come thick and fast and we’re not going to have a fully-fit squad in every game so we’ve just got to deal with it and make sure we still get the results.”
What They’re Saying
Following Saturday’s defeat to Macclesfield, Lions’ boss Paul Cox told Guiseley’s Official website: “It is game management, we didn’t do the basics well for 90 minutes, that’s the thing that frustrates me.
“I didn’t think there was much between the two sides for 50-60 minutes, when you are down there you have to be a bit more resolute. There were some good parts to our play today, we created some good chances.
Looking at the run to the end of the campaign Cox said: “The games are running out, there are still 45 points to play for. We had this run down as a tough set of fixtures, we have got a lot of games in the final 15 that if we cut out the minor mistakes we have a chance of winning them.
“We have got to be focused and dust ourselves down for Tuesday now and not feel sorry for ourselves.”
Tuesday night’s match is potentially Gateshead’s first of six consecutive away matches. The seemingly daunting stretch of matches away from the International Stadium is boosted by the fact that the Heed’s away record under Steve Watson is fairly impressive with five wins, four draws and their one defeat coming in Watson’s first National League match in charge of the club – conceding in the 95th minute against Eastleigh.
Tickets available on the gate.
Adults – £15
Concessions – £10
12-18-year-olds – £5
Accompanied under-12s – FREE
Last Time We Met
On a cold December night at the International Stadium, Gateshead and Guiseley locked horns in an FA Trophy First Round clash that went right to the wire.
Richard Peniket gave the hosts the lead in the first half with a fine solo run before rolling the ball calmly into the bottom right corner of the goal.
The Lions equalised on the hour mark as the ball deflected fortuitously into the path of Rowan Liburd, who couldn’t miss from eight yards out.
That goal ultimately took the Trophy tie into extra-time. And with penalties looming, up stepped Theo Vassell to turn in Scott Barrow’s free-kick at the far post with the last kick of the game in the 121st minute.
The Heed have since gone on to reach the quarter-finals of the competition where they will face Leyton Orient on 24 February.