FC Halifax Town could hand themselves a belated Christmas present by moving back into the play-off places with a win at Gateshead on Boxing Day (3pm kick-off).
The Shaymen have put themselves within striking distance of a return to the top five after back-to-back wins, including their first away league success of the season at Dartford.
Town boss Neil Aspin will be making a return to his home town for the game against a team who haven’t lost at home in the league for more than three months.
Only Welling and Braintree have scored fewer goals than Gateshead in the top half of the table, but only Dartford and Hyde have conceded more than Halifax on their travels in the division.
Lee Gregory could be in line for a surprise return to action after being fitted with a cast on his broken hand, which has kept him out for the past month.
But Town will definitely be without injured duo Danny Lowe and Ryan Toulson and forward Reece Gray, who serves the last of his three-game suspension.
Gateshead midfielder Jamie Chandler is struggling with an ankle injury, striker James Brown has a back problem while captain Ben Clark and top scorer James Marwood, who had a loan spell at Halifax, both missed Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Luton.
Marwood left the club in the summer but has scored six goals in his last 10 games after re-signing for the Tynesiders.
Manager Gary Mills, who won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest under Brain Clough, joined Gateshead in September and won the manager of the month award in October.
Of his 15 games in charge, the club have won nine and lost only three, and could overtake Town with a win.
The clubs’ last meeting was back in 2000 when a Halifax team including future boss Chris Wilder lost 2-0 at the Shay in the FA Cup.
Town’s last game at Gateshead ended in a 2-2 draw back on Boxing Day in 1997, when Geoff Horsfield and Jamie Paterson were both on the scoresheet.