SETTING THE SCENE
Tomorrow’s opponents will make the long journey north in search of their first win of the new season.
The Gulls have earned a name for themselves as relegation escape artists over the past couple of seasons and are looking to turn over a new leaf this campaign.
After finishing just three points above the drop zone last season, player-manager Kevin Nicholson is looking to guide his side to the safety of mid-table this time around.
Nicholson lost club top scorer Brett Williams and leading assist-maker Dan Sparkes on free transfers this summer, with the pair joining fellow National League sides Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge respectively.
United have snapped up former Ipswich and Swansea City striker Rory Fallon as well as ex-Bristol Rovers winger Jake Gosling to replace the pair, while centre-forward Jamie Reid has joined on loan from League Two side Exeter City for a third time.
Nicholson’s side are winless in the league so far having lost 3-2 away to Aldershot on Tuesday night after playing out a goalless draw at home to promotion favourites Tranmere Rovers on the opening day.
Heed are winless in their last three encounters with today’s opposition, with last season’s iteration of this fixture ending in a goalless draw back in October 2016.
Gateshead’s last home win against Torquay came in August 2014, when the hosts ran out 3-1 winners thanks to a brace from Marcus Maddison following Lewis Guy’s opener.
Luke Hannant (back) and Wes York (knee) remain sidelined with a chance of making the trip down to Wrexham next Tuesday. Jamal Fyfield (dead leg) has trained and is in contention after being brought off in Tuesday night’s victory over Guiseley. Fraser Kerr (muscle strain/ribs) and Scott Barrow (illness) should return.
WHAT WE’RE SAYING
Heed boss Neil Aspin: “Our opening two games have been okay but we still need to improve in all areas.
“We need to work hard and we need to improve. We have to make sure we’re ready for Torquay and we do our jobs properly.
“Torquay have obviously had two difficult fixtures in Tranmere and Aldershot who are two teams I think will finish in the top four so I think they’ve done okay considering.
“They were unfortunate the other night and pushed Aldershot all the way so I think they’ll be reasonably pleased with their level of performance so will come here confident of picking up something tomorrow.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Following his side’s defeat on Tuesday night, Gulls boss Kevin Nicholson told the club website: “My lads stayed true to themselves and despite a controversial goal against us to make it 3-1, they still managed to fight on and give themselves a chance.
“As long as we can take those positives to Gateshead and use any left over anger and frustration as positive fuel then I see us kicking on again and having a positive season.
“There is a lot more to come with this group with the ball but the character, work rate, being tough to beat, and attitude have shone through in the first 2 games against teams that will occupy the top 4 or 5 spots come May.”
Since Gateshead’s 0-0 draw with Torquay at the International Stadium last season, they have only kept three home clean sheets in the National League. Their most recent coming in Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory over Guiseley.
Admission is priced as follows:
Adult (Newcastle United or Sunderland Season ticket holder): £10
Family (2 adults + 2 u16s): £25 (must be purchased from main reception)
LAST TIME WE MET
Torquay ran out as 3-1 winners in the previous meeting between the sides at Plainmoor back in January. The home side took the lead when winger David Fitzpatrick foraged down the right, cut inside and beat Dan Hanford with a powerful angled shot.
Paddy McLaughlin stroked home a second-half penalty to bring Gateshead level, but substitute Paul Rooney poked Torquay back in front soon after, getting on the end of Dan Sparkes’ free-kick.
The Heed were desperately unlucky on occasion, James Bolton’s header came back off the bar and Danny Johnson’s effort hit a post as they pressed for a leveller.
Late on, however, Brett Williams intercepted Luke Hannant’s misplaced pass and added a flattering element to Torquay’s win.
Torquay United (4-5-1): Moore; Hodgkiss, McGinty, Racine (Rooney 55), Rowe-Turner; Fitzpatrick, Richards (c), Verma, Young (Lathrope 70), Sparkes (Reid 76); Williams
Unused Subs: Gallifuoco, Chaney
Goals: Fitzpatrick (35), Rooney (59), Williams (90+3)
Gateshead (4-4-2): Hanford; Hogan (c), M. Smith, Bolton, Fyfield; York, Brundle (Hannant 46), Mafuta, McLaughlin (Jones 82); Bell (Johnson 62), Burrow
Goals: McLaughlin (55 Pen)
Unused Subs: G. Smith, MacDonald
Referee: Craig Hicks
Bookings: Torquay – Richards (65); Gateshead – Fyfield (35)
Attendance: 1,555 (62 Gateshead)