Gateshead v FC Halifax Town preview

FC Halifax Town v Gateshead. Jordan Preston
FC Halifax Town v Gateshead. Jordan Preston

FC Halifax Town travel to Gateshead on Saturday to face a side that has conceded only once in their last five home games.

The Heed haven’t conceded from open play at home since Josh Hare’s winner for Eastleigh on September 29, with Gateshead winning four and drawing one of their five home matches since then.

Steve Watson’s side have won four of their last six games, and could move up to fourth in the National League if they beat Halifax.

Town boss Jamie Fullarton isn’t expecting any players to come back off the injury list for Saturday’s game.

Jordan Preston (pictured) got the winner against his former club when Halifax beat Gateshead 1-0 at The Shay in August, a win which sent them top of the table.

Only leaders Leyton Orient have won more matches in the National League than Gateshead, who have won four of their last five home games, including a 2-1 Boxing Day win over Hartlepool.

“There’s a quick turnaround for games, and you can look at it either way,” said Fullarton ahead of the fifth of seven matches in 22 days for his side.

“You can either say it’s a real demand on you physically and mentally, as a group, or you see it as an opportunity to go and gain points, because if you do well over the Christmas period, then it propels you and gives you that real momentum going into January and February.

“When you’re playing four games in 10 days it’s important that everyone looks after themselves away from training and the matches, and we use the squad to make sure we have a freshness and legs to enable us to win as many of those games as we can.”

When asked if he felt his squad could cope with the demands of their festive fixtures, with a New Year’s Day game at home to Harrogate to come, Fullarton said: “Everybody’s got the same schedule, so it’s not like where we’ve had Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday and other teams haven’t, when we’ve had the cup run for example.

“So we’ll cope as well as everyone else does.”

Halifax have won four, drawn two and lost three of their last nine matches in all competitions, having won only once in their 15 games before then.

“People are great with statistics, but you have to add context with them,” Fullarton said when asked if Town had picked up a bit of momentum of late.

“What we’re looking at is getting players back fit and the squad being competitive.

“We’ve had injuries that have impacted us because of the size of our squad, and important players missing.

“Josh Staunton is back from suspension, which adds competition.

“We’re looking to have a full-strength squad to drive each other on.

“It’s not until you see other results of the likes of Dagenham or Barrow that you can put them into context.

“I know what we’re capable of, and we’ve shown it. And the minimum is that reaction, attitude and application that we bang the drum about.

“It’s something that on very few occasions we can accuse the players of not doing or not having the understanding or intent to do it.

“There’s been three or four games out of the 30 where we’ve not been good enough, not acceptable.

“If we can continue that over the next 20-odd games we have, then with a full-strength squad and competition for places, it manifests into results as well as performances.”

Saturday’s National League fixtures:

Barrow v Salford City

Boreham Wood v Maidstone United

Chesterfield v Hartlepool United

Dagenham & Redbridge v Barnet

Dover Athletic v Leyton Orient

Ebbsfleet United v Eastleigh

Gateshead v FC Halifax Town

Harrogate Town v AFC Fylde

Havant & Waterlooville v Bromley

Maidenhead United v Braintree Town

Sutton United v Aldershot Town

Wrexham v Solihull Moors