Mike Williamson is looking forward to the first derby clash at Gateshead International Stadium in two years on Boxing Day.
Gateshead host Blyth Spartans for the first time since a 3-2 defeat on December 26, 2019 this Sunday with the two sides at opposite ends of the league table.
The Heed come into the weekend sitting third and two points behind league leaders Brackley Town, while Blyth lie 21st following nine defeats in their last 10.
Williamson feels the form book will matter little this weekend, saying: “When it comes to local derbies form goes out of the window, it’s about who handles the occasion on the day.
“Blyth are a good team and they’ve got a new manager who is getting his own message across so we’re looking forward to it.
“Watching the last couple of games, you can definitely see that there’s a structure Blyth are putting into place.
“It’s a derby so emotionally everyone will be fired up for it and looking forward to the test and they’ve got a lot of former players of ours as well.”
The player-manager admits he is relishing Boxing Day’s derby, but is keen to ensure the occasion doesn’t get the better of his side.
“I fully look forward to derbies, I always have done my whole career.
“The bigger the game, the more pressure and the more enjoyment but ultimately it’s about being professional.
“We can’t get involved in the occasion and we’ve got to prepare like we do for every other game to make sure that we’re mentally and physically ready for a really tough battle.
“We haven’t had a good result against them in recent years and they’re first and foremost a good team.
“With no disrespect to their past teams, they’re probably the strongest they’ve been this season and they’ve got a lot of good players.
“I say it every week that it’s about how we go about things, and we’ve got to respect what they do, but focus on our game plan firstly.”
Williamson also offered an update on the squad’s fitness and in particular Greg Olley and Macaulay Langstaff, who missed out on last Saturday’s win over Brackley due to suspension and illness.
“Greg was suspended and Macaulay wasn’t well so they’ll both be back in on Sunday,” Williamson added.
“Danny [Greenfield] is still a couple of weeks away and Elliot [Forbes] is a little bit longer, but other than that we’re fit and healthy.”