We’ve already proven that hosting full time clubs in Cup matches isn’t a problem for us. The Bulls have already overcome both Torquay and Rochdale, both sides in crisis. They were vulnerable and I was quietly confident we would win. Whilst our latest visitors couldn’t be described as being in crisis, there’s a case to be made that they are at least having a bad patch, albeit eased by victory over Barnet and Southend recently.

On the face of it this could be a tough match as Gateshead reached the Trophy Final at Wembley in 2023, and this term they are just outside the play-offs having scored over 70 League and Cup goals already. The Heed are successful. Arguably a rare promoted-from-National-League-North success story. But Gateshead’s success was masterminded by manager Mike Williamson who is now an EFL Gaffer.

Since his departure, not too much has gone right. Four first team players have left, two more, arguably key men (Tinkler and Olley) are long term injured. There appears to be only one fit central striker in Marcus Dinanga who had not scored since September until last week. Curiously, he scored 12 in the first two months. Striker Aidan Routledge has been allowed to stay at Scarborough for the rest of the season despite scoring 8 in 13 for Boro. Strange one.

There was a plethora of new arrivals this month – 4 loan players, another on non-contract for 18 months and a permanent arrival from York. All are aged between 20 and 22. That’s a lot of upheaval, even for full time outfits. Overall, only three of the first team squad are aged 26 or older. I see that as an opportunity for Hereford because all of the know-how that our older players bring to the pitch.

In temporary charge – it’s a north-east club so bound to be an interim – is goalkeeper Rob Elliott, who was the club’s technical director. He’s 37 and best known for his 50 odd games for Newcastle and neatly 100 for Charlton. This is his first managerial job. How many other goalkeepers are managers? Are any?

Gateshead are owned by a naval officer. Neil Pinkerton used to be a naval attache but these days is a Chief Petty officer on submarines. It’s an unlikely role for someone who owns over 75% of the over £6 million worth of shares in the club. That’s a lot of money for a club which doesn’t own their ground and has only £10,000 worth of assets. You have to imagine that Pinkerton is keeping this ship afloat. Average gates are second lowest in the National League at just 1,100. Both Spennymoor and Darlington have larger attendances, despite their poor home records.

I do wonder how bothered the Heed are about the Trophy? They are a club under pressure led by a temporary manager with lots of temporary players. If you want “out” then an exit at the other end of the country away from their support would do nicely. In the last round against Weston Super Mare, they fielded two debutants from their Academy and were penalty kicks away from going out. I think this game is quite winnable if we field the best team we can. After all it is pretty much a free hit for us.

Support your team and be at the Street if you can.

Gateshead (ticketco.events)

By Editor

Lifelong Hereford supporter who has endured the rise and fall of the club through progressive generations. Sports journalist, broadcaster and commentator who will never forget his Edgar Street roots.

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