Gateshead travel to the Welsh border to face Chester in the opening away fixture of the Vanarama National League North season on Saturday.
The Heed come into the weekend on the back of a successful opening day on Tyneside, running out 3-1 winners over Kettering Town thanks to a double from Cedwyn Scott, either side of Macaulay Langstaff’s first of the season.
Chester, meanwhile, haven’t got off to the start they would have hoped for. An opening day comeback to earn a 2-2 draw at Farsley Celtic showed some promise, but Tuesday’s 3-0 home defeat to Curzon Ashton leaves The Seals looking for a swift response on Sunday.
Gateshead lie ninth in the league table as things stand, while Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s Chester currently occupy 16th place.
“Chester will be at their best off the back of Tuesday,” said player-manager, Mike Williamson.
“We know what their managers are about, their intensity and charisma will get their boys going and you know what you’re going to get.
“There will be a good crowd and atmosphere and Chester will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, so they’ll be right up for the game.”
“I’m looking forward to Gateshead, I think it’s the perfect game to go into,” Chester’s joint-manager, Bernard Morley, told the club’s official Twitter.
“Gateshead will pose a massive threat, they’re a great passing side.
“We’ve just got to dust ourselves down as we’ve not lost 10 on the bounce, we’ve lost one, although it does feel like 10.”
Alex Nicholson and Cedwyn Scott will be subject to a late fitness test ahead of Saturday after picking up knocks against Kettering Town.
Jack Hunter will be unavailable for Saturday’s game after picking up an injury in training.
Tickets in the West Stand are priced at:
Ages 18-21 – £12
Ages 12-17 – £3
Under-12’s – Free
Parking at The Deva Stadium is restricted to car park pass holders, blue badge holders and reserved spaces only,
Late drama meant Gateshead were forced to settle for a point at Chester despite a dominant performance.
Chester survived first half pressure from The Heed before Robbie Tinkler’s first goal since his return to the club put the visitors ahead 56 minutes in.
Jacob Chapman’s double save from the penalty spot kept Chester at bay but a 97th minute own goal meant the points were shared at The Deva Stadium.
Injuries to regular first team players saw Mike Williamson make three changes, bringing in Dan Ward, Matty Jacob and Paul Blackett for Alex Nicholson, Danny Greenfield and Cedwyn Scott.
The changes did nothing to halt Gateshead’s momentum from last weekend’s opening day win however as Williamson’s side started off on the front foot.
Macaulay Langstaff was lively in the opening 15 minutes on the right side and sent a low cross that would almost certainly have been tapped home had a black and white shirt gambled, before sending a volley over the bar minutes later.
The latter part of the first half saw The Heed ramp up the pressure though and were left wondering how they weren’t in front come half time.
Blackett saw a low shot saved by Louis Gray moments after another low Langstaff ball was scrambled away just in front of the Chester goal line, but it was Williamson who drew the most impressive stop from the Seals ‘keeper.
Greg Olley’s corner was met by the player-manager from 12 yards out and looked to be heading for the top corner only for Gray to acrobatically tip over the crossbar.
The Heed carried on where they left off as the whistle blew for the second half, piling the pressure on the hosts in search of an opener.
The pressure counted with 56 minutes gone, as Ward’s driving run and cross almost caused an own goal only for Tinkler to capitalise on the loose ball and slam home for his first of the season.
Adam Campbell then saw a golden chance to put The Heed two in front come his way as he raced onto Langstaff’s ball to go one-on-one with Gray, but dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Chester looked to mount a comeback with time ticking on, and had the perfect chance to level the game up when George Waring was brought down for a penalty, only to be denied by a superb double save from Chapman.
Staying in front became more difficult with five minutes left on the clock when Luke Williams was sent off for a high challenge in the centre circle, leaving Gateshead with 10 men for the final moments.
The seven additional minutes proved to be Gateshead’s undoing, as right at the death a cross from the right was bundled over the line to see the hosts nick a point.
Gateshead XI: Chapman, Tinkler, Williamson, Storey, Jacob, Bailey, Ward (Williams, 71’), Olley (c), Campbell (Nicholson, 86’), Blackett (Scott, 64’), Langstaff.
Substitutes: Guthrie, Pani.
Goals: Tinkler (56’)
Yellow Cards: Tinkler (15’), Williamson (63’)
Red Cards: Williams (85’)
Chester Goals: Own Goal (90+7’)