Gateshead make the short trip to face Darlington in the final game of 2021 on Tuesday afternoon (3pm kick off).
The Heed visit Blackwell Meadows with fresh legs having not played on Boxing Day, while the hosts earned a point at Spennymoor Town in a fiery encounter which saw a man sent off for each side.
Top scorer Luke Charman saw red at The Brewery Field following a tangle with ex-Heed defender James Curtis having first put Darlington ahead with his 10th league goal.
The Quakers are unbeaten in their last six home games after a run of four without a win at Blackwell Meadows at the start of the season, with their most recent fixture a 1-0 win over AFC Fylde.
Mike Williamson’s side have won six from 12 away games in all competitions so far this season and came from 3-1 down to beat Farsley Celtic 4-3 in their most recent away trip.
A win could see Gateshead move top of the Vanarama National League North should results go their way, while 12th-placed Darlington could propel themselves as high as eighth.
“They’ll fancy themselves I’m sure, and likewise,” said player-manager Mike Williamson.
“They’ve got a lively front four, two sitting midfielders that are very combative and have good energy, they sustain attacks very well and were organised against Spennymoor.
“They had George [Smith] and Griffy [Kallum Griffiths] playing and two big centre halves with them.
“That is going to test us tomorrow, but as I always say, the focus is on us.”
“We just want to play football and play the games,” Alun Armstrong told Darlington’s official YouTube channel following Sunday’s draw at Spennymoor Town.
“We’re disappointed we never won the game, but we’d have taken a draw [before kick off].
“We’ve just got to make sure we get the points at home on Tuesday.”
Last Time We Met
The two sides last met in a competitive fixture in August 2019 at Blackwell Meadows, when goals in either half ensured the spoils were shared.
JJ O’Donnell put The Heed in front with 21 minutes on the clock but Darlington fought back in the second 45 to level through Michael Liddle.
Danny Greenfield and Elliot Forbes remain the sole absentees from the current squad due to injury.
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Junior – £5
Child – £0
Adult – £16
Senior/Student/Disabled/Young Adult – £12
Junior – £7
Child – £0
Tickets are available both online and on the gate, though Darlington FC advise that purchasing online ahead of time is recommended.
Gateshead earned a seventh consecutive league win with a 3-1 victory at neighbours Darlington in the final game of 2021.
Macaulay Langstaff’s double either side of Cedwyn Scott’s 12th of the season cancelled out Luke Charman’s strike for the hosts to send The Heed second in the Vanarama National League North.
Darlington saw the first chance of the afternoon with seven minutes on the clock as Jake Cassidy forced Jacob Chapman into a low save at his near post as the hosts looked to get off to a bright start.
Matty Jacob provided a constant threat down the left side for much of the opening 45 minutes and many of Gateshead’s chances came through him, as he fed Paul Blackett who in turn set Cedwyn Scott up to try a shot which deflected away from goal.
The first notable opportunity came 13 minutes in and it was Scott who was once again set up inside the box by Jacob, but Darlington goalkeeper Tommy Taylor was able to block his effort with his legs.
The Heed settled into their rhythm from that point onwards and enjoyed large spells of possession with the hosts looking to hit on the counter.
Adam Campbell, returning to his former club, sent a 25-yard free kick over the crossbar before Jack Hunter headed a corner over the crossbar as the visitors pressed on.
Darlington’s best chance of the half fell to top scorer Luke Charman but he was denied by a fine save by Chapman as he tried to smash past the ‘keeper at his near post.
Campbell came inches away from scoring from a right-sided cross on the stroke of half time when he curled against the post with Taylor caught off guard on his line.
Mike Williamson changed his midfield at the break, bringing Luke Williams on in place of Dan Ward as Gateshead tried to strike first.
Owen Bailey had the chance to do just that moments after the restart when Scott played him through but Taylor was off his line quickly to close the angles and block.
Both sides had chances from that point onwards with Charman firing just over the far post while Williams hit the side netting with a 25-yard free kick at the other end.
The game exploded into the life in the final 15 minutes when Macaulay Langstaff put the visitors ahead after coming off the bench, latching onto Louis Storey’s lofted ball before slotting home.
Darlington struck back immediately however through Charman who popped up at the back post to prod home and level things up, but Gateshead returned the favour two minutes later.
Scott turned his man inside the area before rifling a low shot past Taylor to restore The Heed’s lead, and Langstaff made sure of the result with six minutes left as he converted Storey’s ball across goal to ensure a seventh consecutive win.
Gateshead XI: Chapman, Tinkler, Nicholson (c), Storey, Jacob, Hunter, Bailey, Ward (Williams, 46’), Campbell, Scott, Blackett (Langstaff, 66’).
Substitutes: Williamson, Pani, Wombwell.
Gateshead Goals: Langstaff (72’, 84’), Scott (75’)
Darlington Yellow Cards: Lambert (31’), Griffiths (82’)
Darlington Goals: Charman (73’),