Preview: Gateshead v Harriers
Subject to a pitch inspection at 7:45am tomorrow Harriers face a long trip north to begin clawing back the five points deducted by the league.
Steve Burr will have to make changes to the side that drew at Tamworth at the start of the week; Mark Albrighton begins his two-game ban, Tom Sharpe should come back in his place despite having missed the last couple of games with flu. Lee Vaughan has also had flu this week but should be OK to continue at right back. Lee Morris and Jamille Matt have hamstring injuries so Nick Wright should keep his place alongside leading score Chris McPhee in attack.
The Tynesiders, led by former Harrier Ian Bogie, are smarting from a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Southport last time out which left them seven games without a win and just three points above the relegation zone. Bogie will be without another former Harrier in Craig Nelthorpe who is suspended but two further ex-Reds Martin Brittain and Andy Ferrell should be involved. Bogie has brought in two players on loan who should feature, Martin Liddle has been brought in from Sunderland and Richard Offiong from Carlisle.
Earlier this season Harriers came out on top when hte teams met at Aggborough, Jack Byrne and Matt Blair scoring for Harriers and Brittain getting Gateshead's reply in a 2-1 win. The previous meetings between the clubs have been even with eleven wins each from 27 games although at The International Stadium Gateshead are comfortably on top with nine wins to four from 13 games.
I expect Harriers to line-up as follows (4-4-2): Lewis, Vaughan, Williams, Briscoe, Sharpe; Blair, Briggs, Byrne, Gittings; McPhee, Wright.
Subs (from): Shaw, Hankin, Griffiths, Thompson-Brown, Stevens.
Missing (suspended): Albrighton.
Missing (injured): Morris, Matt.
Missing (on-loan): Hadley, Thorne.
The referee tomorrow will be Lee Metcalfe from Lancashire. This will be his third time in the middle for a Harriers game, having done a defeat at Altrincham and a draw with Northwich in early 2008.
Tomorrow's weather forecast suggests that by kick-off time Gateshead will be mostly sunny with a temperature of 2°C and falling. Last night's freeze has put the game in doubt, though, causing the early pitch inspection and although the temperature is slightly warmer up there now, snow is forecast overnight and for later during the game.