Boreham Wood v Gateshead
Tuesday 25th April 2023, 7.45pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League
The Wood’s penultimate game of the Vanarama National League season sees them welcome Gateshead to the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, where they will be looking to get the decisive point and seal their place in the top seven, so they can begin planning for the play-offs.
IN FOCUS: GATESHEAD
Gateshead will be looking to consolidate once more at the top level of non-league football, having risen back into the fifth tier after a decade-long stint had come to an end in 2019. Having battled in and around the relegation zone for much of the campaign, the Heed currently find themselves sat 17th place with a 13-point gap to the bottom three, ensuring their National League status will last beyond the 2022/23 season, and will unsurprisingly hope this sparks another extended spell fighting at the right end of the table. The architect to their recent success has been manager Mike Williamson, who arrived at the Gateshead International Stadium as a player in August 2018 but took on the role of player-coach just five months later. He would later be appointed as player-manager ahead of the 2019/20 season following their relegation from the National League, and guided them to an eighth place finish in his first year as a manager before an abandoned 2020/21 campaign saw him reassess their situation. Wholesale changes followed ahead of the 2021/22 season, and it resulted in their promotion back to the National League as champions after a three-year absence.
Pivotal to the Heed’s success was top scorers Macauley Langstaff and Cedwyn Scott, but they would have to make do in the fifth tier without their reliable frontline when Notts County opted to bring them to Meadow Lane, with both going on to enjoy successful seasons at the top of the National League table, particularly the former who impressed with a record-breaking 40 goals in 43 appearances for the Magpies. This brought a necessary reshuffle, and the Tynesiders reacted by bringing in the likes of Aaron Martin and Will Harris last summer in an attempt to restore their firepower, along with Ethan Pye and Kamil Conteh joining from Stockport County and Middlesbrough respectively. Their new strikers struggled to find form at the start of the season though and scored just four goals between them, with Gateshead winning just three of their opening 24 games of the season. They responded by bringing Danny Elliott in on loan from Boreham Wood, and the forward’s run of six goals in nine games saw him recalled by the Wood after almost two months, but his form coincided with an improved run for the Heed, and led to an important winter window that saw them strengthen with the likes of Marcus Dinanga, Quévin Castro, Filip Marschall, Callum Whelan, Ed Francis and Stephen Wearne joining the ranks. It was Dinanga in particular who impressed alongside top scorer Adam Campbell to notch seven goals following his move from rivals Altrincham, and this contributed to the Heed’s rise away from the drop zone – as well as a run to the FA Trophy Final – to see them maintain their place in the National League with eight games to go, having gone on an impressive ten-game unbeaten run between March and April.
LAST TIME OUT
Woking 2-1 Gateshead
Saturday 22nd April 2023
Vanarama National League
Early goals from Rhys Browne saw Gateshead fall to a narrow defeat at the hands of promotion hopefuls Woking, despite a second half strike from Adam Campbell setting up a nervy finale.
The hosts got off to a flying start when Browne rose highest in the penalty area unmarked to head home after three minutes, before doubling their advantage inside ten minutes after Lirak Hasini brought down Sol Nwaboukei inside the penalty area, with Browne duly converting from the spot as he slammed his effort past Filip Marschall. The Cards continued to control proceedings and went close to a third with a handful of chances presented to Jim Kellerman, Kacper Lopota and Brown, who all saw efforts go amiss in their attempt to put the game beyond doubt before the break.
Gateshead would regroup after the interval and re-emerged a new team in the second half, creating their best chances of the game early on. They soon halved the deficit just after the hour-mark through a hint of good fortune when Stephen Wearne and Adam Campbell combined before the latter sent a deflected effort past Will Jaaskelainen from 20 yards. Jaaskelainen would be called into action again as he was required to preserve their lead, with Ed Francis looking to find the bottom corner with a 25-yard free kick that saw the Cards’ stopper produce an excellent low save to push the ball away from danger. The Heed would see two big chances in the dying minutes as they looked to steal a point from the hosts’ grasp, with Wearne’s initial shot being parried into the path of Owen Bailey who sent the rebound over the crossbar, before the centre back was denied by Jaaskelainen when his header was tipped wide by a full-stretch Cards keeper, ensuring the three points remained in Surrey.
Woking (A) L2-1
Dorking Wanderers (H) D0-0
Bromley (H) L0-3
Eastleigh (A) W2-5
Altrincham (A) W0-1
Scunthorpe United (H) W2-0
Although the Heed have struggled to maintain consistency for much of the season, they seemingly hit form at just the right time with a ten-game unbeaten run in all competitions seeing them rack up enough points to keep their National League status intact. Having ended 2022 with two victories in a row, they kept this form up at the turn of the year with just three defeats until April, and saw victories over Scunthorpe United, Altrincham and Eastleigh stretch a winning run to seven games in all competitions. Although this streak would be ended by play-off hopefuls Bromley, a previous victory over Yeovil Town had cemented their place in the fifth tier mathematically, meaning they could play with more freedom at the end of the season and they subsequently bounced back with a goalless draw against fellow relegation battlers Dorking Wanderers, before facing another defeat last time out at the hands of Woking.
IN THE DUGOUT: MIKE WILLIAMSON
Former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson has taken on the role of player-manager at Gateshead since 2019, having joined the Heed a year prior. The 39-year old racked up more than 450 career appearances having turned out for Torquay United, Southampton, Doncaster Rovers, Wycombe Wanderers, Watford, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Oxford United, and established himself having featured in the Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two, before returning to Tyneside in 2018. Initially training with the club during pre-season ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, he would go on to earn a contract and appeared consistently, but was named player-coach after just five months at the club, joining the coaching staff of newly-appointed manager Ben Clark. He would later take on the role of player-manager and has remained there ever since, guiding the club back to the National League after three seasons in the sixth tier which saw them reach the play-off semi-final in his first year, eventually achieving promotion as champions. He would go on to win Manager of the Season at the end of the campaign, and has guided the club to a further season in the National League after keeping their status intact this time around.
ONE TO WATCH: ADAM CAMPBELL
North Shields-born forward Adam Campbell was spotted by Newcastle United whilst playing for Wallsend Boys Club and became the youngest player to feature for the Magpies in European competitions when he made his competitive debut in a Europa League tie with Greek side Atromitos, aged just 17. He also featured in the Premier League, before leaving for a number of loan spells that saw him join Carlisle United, St Mirren, Fleetwood Town, Hartlepool United and Gateshead. After departing St James Park permanently in July 2015, Campbell enjoyed spells at Notts County and Morecambe before a temporary return to Carlisle preceded a return to the North-East, spending two years at Darlington before re-joining Gateshead permanently. The hard-working forward recorded 14 goals and 12 assists as the club won the National League North, earning promotion back to the National League where he has added a further ten goals to his Heed tally this season.
LAST TIME WE MET
Gateshead 1-1 Boreham Wood
Saturday 17th September 2022
Vanarama National League
It was honours even at the Gateshead International Stadium as Boreham Wood maintained their unbeaten away record with a hard fought 1-1 draw against Gateshead.
A quiet opening saw the visitors controlled most of the possession, but it was the hosts took the lead after Lirak Hasani sent a fantastic volley from the edge of the area past Nathan Ashmore, and this gave the Heed the upper hand as they began to dominate against a lacklustre Wood. They came close to doubling their lead minutes later after a nice passing move saw Hasani and Greg Olley combine, with Dan Ward eventually firing over the crossbar, and they almost paid the price when a wayward cross from Will Evans nearly caught Heed keeper Dan Langley out but he was able to recover and keep it out. This didn’t seem to affect the hosts, and continued to control proceedings with Ward again finding space outside the Wood penalty area before his effort wide. The Heed continued to dominate possession leading up to half time and were prevented from adding to their lead by an excellent Wood defence, marshalled superbly by David Stephens, with the hosts going into the break with a deserved lead that perhaps could have been more.
An improved second half for the Wood saw them produce their first shot on target almost immediately after the restart, with Dennon Lewis having a shot comfortably saved by Langley. They would soon find a way past the Heed backline though as Josh Rees equalised when he was picked out by Lee Ndlovu before converting past Langley, and this put the Wood in the ascendancy with Rees testing Langley once more as he looked to give his side the lead. With the game hanging in the balance, Adam Campbell had a shot straight at Ashmore for the hosts before an Ndlovu saw shot was spilled by Langley into the path of Tyrone Marsh who was unable to convert the rebound, but they continued pushing and went close to a second goal when Ndlovu was denied by Langley at the near post. As the match entered its final stages, the hosts again got the upper hand and forced a series of corners, almost snatching the victory at the death with Hasani being denied by an excellent Ashmore save in injury time, ensuring it ended all square on Tyneside.
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