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UTILITA PREVIEW | Louis Storey talks Boreham Wood (A)
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

25th April 2023

Louis Storey wants Gateshead to show their top half credentials with two games remaining in the Vanarama National League season.

The Heed’s form over the past 25 games would see them occupying ninth place in the league table – eight positions higher than they find themselves in ahead of the final week.

With an eye on building for next season, Storey is keen to show that Gateshead belong amongst the division’s heavy hitters ahead of Tuesday’s visit to play-off hopefuls Boreham Wood.

“We want to show that we are just as good as the teams towards the top end of the league,” he said.

“It’s a big challenge that we’re relishing, because we want to win and show we can compete with these teams, but also to keep our momentum going until the end of the season.

“We want to take that into the FA Trophy final next month, but also be ready for next season on the back of what we’ve done over the last two or three months.

We had the luxury of watching [Boreham Wood] straight after the game on Saturday with theirs being on BT, so the boys got a good look into what they’re about.

“They’re a very solid compact team, who have a very good midfield and forward unit which can create good opportunities if they’re given time and space.”

Gateshead will be one man down from Saturday’s trip to Woking however, with midfielder Callum Whelan returning to Solihull Moors on Monday after being recalled from his loan spell.

Whelan played a pivotal role in securing fifth-tier survival, and his impact is one Storey admits will be missed for the final two fixtures.

Photo: Charlie Waugh

“Whelo has been huge,” he said.

“He knows how much the group love him and enjoyed him being a part of the group, as well as what he added to the group.

“He essentially bought into our principles and our culture, and he was able to add to what we were trying to do, which was to dominate the ball in possession.

“He was a huge part of that and his quality showed, especially through that stretch when we went unbeaten for a long period – he was central to those key performances.

“It’s a big miss, but the team has improved because of his inclusion and I’m sure the other lads are raring to play their part now.

“There’s no real change from the squad apart from Whelo.

“Az [Aaron Martin] won’t be fit again, he’s just dealing with a bit of illness at this moment in time, but Will is back in the squad so it’s business as it was on Saturday.”

Now, with only two league fixtures remaining until the curtains are drawn on Gateshead’s first season back in the fifth tier, the Isuzu FA Trophy final on May 21 has begun to peer over the horizon.

Gateshead will compete for the Isuzu FA Trophy at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, May 21.

The Heed are set to continue training through to the final date at Wembley Stadium, and Storey admits an eye has already been cast over preparations for the season closer.

“[The final] is definitely something we’re going to include into our preparations and our decision making, with regards to the team for tonight and Saturday,” he said.

“We want all of the players to be in the best place, physically and mentally, for the FA Trophy final which comes with playing competitive games.

“Looking at certain combinations and set ups will give us an idea of how we want to go into the final, and that will be taken into consideration to get that balance right in looking to win our remaining games while also preparing for the final.”

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