By Jack McGraghan
Setting The Scene
Gateshead will make their maiden trip to Maidenhead United in the National League this Saturday in search of back-to-back away victories.
Last season’s Vanarama National League South champions come into Saturday’s game on the back of a four match unbeaten run in the league.
Despite their 2-0 defeat at League Two Coventry City in the Emirates FA Cup first round last weekend, spirits are high in the camp with the Magpies currently 11th in the Vanarama National League.
Their recent results include draws against table-toppers Dover Athletic, Dagenham & Redbridge and Aldershot Town, while their last victory came in a 3-2 win at Bromley just over two weeks ago.
Alan Devonshire’s side have not lost at York Road since a 1-0 defeat to Leyton Orient in August and since then have gone six games unbeaten at home in all competitions.
The Berkshire outfit have kept just two clean sheets at home all season while at the other end only Aldershot and Dagenham & Redbridge have scored more goals, so expect to see a free-flowing game on Saturday.
Gateshead are in good form coming into the game and have now kept three consecutive clean sheets following last weekend’s 2-0 Emirates FA Cup first round win over Chelmsford City.
Steve Watson has lost just once in his five games as manager and secured the Tynesiders’ first away win in the league with a 2-0 victory at Leyton Orient just over two weeks ago.
Jordan Burrow has scored four goals in four starts under the new boss and is looking to continue in that rich vein of form at York Road.
The Heed lie 18th in the league but are just six points below sixth-placed Dagenham & Redbridge, with a victory on Saturday able to propel them as high as 13th depending on other results.
Theo Vassell (illness) is set to miss the game with a bout of tonsillitis and is not expected to return until next week.
Callum Williams (heel) and Jamal Fyfield (knee) have both been in training and could potentially travel with the squad.
What We’re Saying
Speaking at Thursday’s pre-match press conference, Steve Watson said: “It’s about taking the second half from Eastleigh and the Leyton Orient game, where once we’d addressed the issues we looked hard to beat.
“The defending’s not just about the back four it’s about the goalie, the midfielders and pressing from the front, so defensively things are starting to hopefully take shape and there’s a lot more to come with the ball as well.
“[Maidenhead] have got a good side, they’ve got some experienced players.
“I actually had a chat with the Chelmsford manager about them who knows them quite well and we had them watched last Sunday against Coventry.
“As I’ve said many a time I’ll do as much homework as I can do about the other team but I’m a big believer that it’s all about us.
“I think if we play to our capabilities and keep improving the way I hope we will then we’ll be a match for anybody.”
What They’re Saying
Speaking after their Emirates FA Cup defeat at Coventry, Maidenhead manager Alan Devonshire said: “The endeavour was there.”
“We worked really hard, but we just lacked that quality. I think we’ve had the ball more than them, which is unusual.
“Normally you’d come here and park the bus but we didn’t, we had a go and if we’d taken our chances early on it might have been a different story but it isn’t they’ve won 2-0 and good luck to them.
“I thought it was quite an even game football-wise, but they’ve taken their chances and we haven’t.
“We’ve got to better that and try and win on Saturday.”
The last time Gateshead kept four consecutive clean sheets was in January and February 2016 .
The Heed won 2-0 at Torquay United, 1-0 against Grimsby Town and played out a stalemate at Barrow in the National League before securing a 1-0 FA Trophy win over AFC Fylde.
Tickets on the gate.