Gateshead host in-form Chorley in the opening game of 2022 at Gateshead International Stadium this Saturday (3pm kick off).
The Heed come into the weekend in second place in the Vanarama National League North despite a seven-game winning run ending with a 2-1 defeat at Blyth Spartans last Sunday.
Mike Williamson’s side could move top of the league with three points should Brackley Town fail to win, and look to get back on track against a Chorley side who are challenging for the title themselves.
The Magpies have lost just once in their last 15 league games, putting them second in the form table behind Gateshead ahead of Saturday’s game.
Jamie Vermiglio’s men are unbeaten in their last six National League North fixtures and are on a two-game winning streak having beaten AFC Fylde and Curzon Ashton before the New Year.
Fourth-placed Chorley could move as high as second should they win on Saturday with Fylde out of action following the postponement of their fixture at home to York City.
“You want a reaction from every game,” said player-manager Mike Williamson.
“You want to improve every week and no matter what happens we want to continue that.
“The fact that [Blyth] was a difficult result to stomach doesn’t change anything, we want a reaction and it has to be positive.”
Read the player-manager’s full pre-match thoughts here.
“This weekend is going to be very tough,” Chorley defender Lewis Baines told the Lancashire Post.
“I would say it’s going to be the hardest games of the season. They are a very organised team, a good set of lads who are going to give us a really tough game.
“They have got some big lads at the back and can go front to back quickly, but they can also play good football.
“I believe the weather is not going to be too great so it’s going to be a horrible place to go but it’s a challenge we will be up for.”
Greg Olley is set to return to the squad following a period of absence due to illness.
Dan Ward is unavailable for selection after suffering a hamstring injury at Blyth Spartans last weekend.
Tickets can be purchased on the gate at Gateshead International Stadium on Saturday or online, with admission priced at:
Adult – £15
Concession – £10
Under-16 – £5
Carer – Free
Segregation will be in place with all supporters seated in the Tyne and Wear Stand and those purchasing online must purchase their tickets via the relevant purchase option for home or away supporters.
Home supporters can purchase tickets online here.
Gateshead were dealt their first home league defeat of the season at the hands of Chorley in the opening game of 2022 on home turf.
Mike Williamson made three changes to the side that lost at Blyth Spartans last Sunday with Williamson, Luke Williams and Adam Campbell replacing Jack Hunter, Dan Ward and Paul Blackett.
Both sides struggled to reach full flow in the opening 45 with half chances the only opportunities to speak of early on.
Willem Tomlinson fired over the crossbar from 25 yards for Chorley with 12 minutes on the clock, and later escaped his marker from a corner but saw his first time shot blocked by a crowd of Gateshead shirts.
At the other end, Matty Jacob’s cross into the area was played back across goal by Robbie Tinkler and would have needed only a touch to send it over the line but those in red were alert to clear the danger.
Jon Ustabasi sent a 20-yard drive wide on the counter for Chorley, who were largely restricted to shots from distance, while Williams saw a shot blocked inside the box for the hosts after Owen Bailey left his marker in the dust.
Two yellow cards for Tinkler and Louis Storey closed out an even first half on Tyneside, though a winner was still within reach for both sides.
Harry Cardwell came close to putting Chorley in front a few minutes after the restart as he turned in the box and fired over the crossbar, and later forced Jacob Chapman into a save at his near post.
Gateshead had an opportunity of their own denied by Matt Urwin in The Magpies’ goal when Cedwyn Scott slipped Macaulay Langstaff in behind the defence, only for the ‘keeper to spread himself to block the forward’s effort.
The visitors took the lead with 58 minutes on the clock through Mike Calveley who rose at the far post to head home Billy Whitehouse’s cross.
The Heed responded with attacking changes in the form of Paul Blackett and Greg Olley, and the two combined inside the box before Olley fired a low cross across the face of goal that needed only a touch but no black and white shirts could connect.
Williamson’s side pushed forward in injury time in search of an equaliser with Scott and Storey testing Urwin late on, while Campbell sent a curling shot wide of the far post from 20 yards.
Gateshead’s efforts were ultimately in vain and they were dealt a first home league defeat of the season in the New Year.
Gateshead XI: Chapman, Nicholson (c), Storey, Williamson (Hunter, 84’), Jacob, Tinkler, Williams (Olley, 63’), Bailey (Blackett, 71’), Campbell, Scott, Langstaff.
Substitutes: Pani, Magnay.
Gateshead Yellow Cards: Tinkler (39’), Storey (41’)
Chorley Goals: Calveley (58’)
Attendance: 865 (42 Chorley)