We turn our attentions to the Boxing Day action with a full and in-depth preview of the National League trip to The International Stadium.
Gateshead v Pools
Wednesday 26th December, 3pm
The International Stadium
Gateshead have emerged as one of the dark horses in the National League promotion race this season under the fine stewardship of former Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Everton star Steve Watson.
A tumultuous summer saw the Club finally passed in to new ownership after a prolonged takeover saga which seemed to put them on the back foot in terms of recruitment for 2018/19.
However, Watson pulled together a young and dynamic squad which picked up confidence on the back of three wins in a row at the start of the season and has rarely looked back since.
They currently lie seventh in the table following their impressive 3-2 win at Maidstone United on Saturday and will be hoping to further bolster their play-off credentials with a solid return over Christmas.
Luke Armstrong has proved a regular supply of goals for Gateshead since joining the club on loan from Middlesbrough at the start of the season.
The 22-year-old has hit the net nine times in 18 games so far for The Tyensiders but they face a nervous wait to see if it’s possible to extend his loan spell beyond the New Year.
There’s little doubt that Armstrong will want to sign-off in style if he is indeed to be recalled by Boro so Pools will need to keep a close eye on him on Boxing Day to ensure he doesn’t make it in to double figures at their expense.
Head To Head
The Boxing Day game will be the 56th competitive meeting with Gateshead in its various forms over the years, stretching back to a first encounter in 1928 which was won 5-0 by The Tynesiders.
Both of last season’s fixtures between the sided ended in 2-2 draws in what was the first time they’d met competitively since 1960 in a game which also finished all-square.
Saturday 1st January 2018
Pools 2 (Watson 7, 64) Gateshead 2 (Peniket 41, York 79)
Pools: Loach, Donnelly, Watson, Ledger, Franks, Woods, Deverdics, Hawkins, Cassidy (Simpson 87), Oates (Munns 71), Rodney (Adeloye 85).
Subs not used: Catterick, Laing.
Gateshead: Hanford, Vassell, Barrow, Byrne, Tinkler, McLaughlin, Penn (Johnson 65), Hannant, Peniket, Burrow, Preston (York 75).
Subs not used: Montgomery, Fyfield, Williams.
Andrew Miller will be the man in charge for the game at The International Stadium, just as he was in this same fixture last Boxing Day when he showed a red card to Blair Adams.
It will be the fifth time in total that Miller has overseen Pools in action, the most recent occasion was for our 3-2 home defeat to Sutton United in October, while he also took charge when we drew with Tranmere last October and beat Leyton Orient in April.
In to his third season on the National League’s list of referees, he has overseen 12 games in the league so far this term and was last on the whistle for AFC Fylde’s 2-1 win over Boreham Wood at the end of November.
If you can’t get along to the game on Boxing Day then join Mark Simpson on Pools PlayerHD for full live online commentary from 2.50pm.
Pools fans are now able to buy tickets on cash turnstiles at The International Stadium.
Gateshead have been installed as big 17/20 favourites for three points on Boxing Day, with Pools good value at a price of 3/1 and the bookies rating the chance of a draw at 9/4.