Setting The Scene
Gateshead open the Vanarama National League North season with a home fixture against Southport on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off).
The Heed come into the new season on the back of three consecutive pre-season victories over Hebburn Town, Harrogate Town and Scarborough Athletic.
The 2019/20 season will be the first time Gateshead have competed in the sixth tier of English football since the 2008/09 campaign – in which the Heed were promoted via the play-offs following a 1-0 win over Telford United.
Southport are now entering their third season in the National League North after finishing 23rd in the 2016/17 National League, and ended the 2018/19 season in 14th.
The Sandgrounders’ pre-season schedule has seen them secure wins over Fleetwood Development Squad, Widnes, Bala Town, Marine and Wigan Athletic while losing out to Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Under-23’s.
Liam Watson’s side will arrive with a former Heed goalkeeper in tow, with Dan Hanford now in his second season with Southport after spending two seasons at the International Stadium from 2016 to 2018.
Gateshead will be without striker Jordan Preston (knee) as he continues his return from the injury picked up against Middlesbrough in pre-season.
A number of players will be in line to make their competitive debuts for the Heed on Saturday afternoon.
What We're Saying
Player-manager Williamson is looking forward to seeing his players continue to progress on Saturday, telling gateshead-fc.com: “I’m a believer that 95% of the time that it’s all about what we do.
“Everyone’s looking forward to it, pre-season is a dress rehearsal and this is the real thing.
Win, lose or draw I just want to keep getting better. I want the lads to keep learning and I think we’re going to keep developing as a group for the whole season, but initially in this first period we’re only going to get stronger.
“Of course it’s important [the first home game] and we want to give the fans good morale by taking three points, but it’s more about the lads’ process and how we turn up.”
Tickets can be purchased on the gate on Saturday afternoon and are priced as follows:
NUFC/SAFC Season Ticket Holders (2018/19/20): £10
Under-12’s: Free with a paying adult
Last Time We Met
Gateshead romped to a 3-0 win in both fixtures against the Sandgrounders during the 2016/17 National League season.
Jordan Burrow, George Smith and Danny Johnson were on target at the International Stadium as the Heed moved eighth in February 2017.
Gateshead: Montgomery, Bolton, G. Smith, M. Smith, Hogan, Fyfield, York, Johnson (Bell 73), Burrow, Mafuta, McLaughlin
Unused Subs: Hanford, Brundle, Ajala, Hannant.
Goals: Burrow (27’), G. Smith (43’), Johnson (62’)
Bookings: Bolton, McLaughlin.
Southport: Norman, Ashton, Nolan, Murray, Allen (Grimes 58), Hynes, Jones, Weeks (McKenna 58), McKeown, Cundy, Higgins
Unused Subs: Springthorpe, White, Wright.
Referee: Thomas Bramall
MOTM: George Smith
Attendance: 620 (77 away)