PREVIEW: Hatters facing toughest Trophy test so far

TUESDAY night’s 2-1 win at York City has put Gateshead right back into the play-off pack in the Blue Square Bet Premier once more, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 25th February 2012, 7:40 am

The Tynesiders hadn’t won in the league since January 10, losing three and drawing one, before they emerged victorious at Bootham Crescent in front of the Premier Sports TV cameras to move within a point of the top five.

In the Trophy, Gateshead have already knocked out Kettering, Braintree via penalties, and Alfeton to set up a last eight tie at Kenilworth Road today.

Heeds have been also been busy recruiting in the last few months as they aim to win promotion into the Football League.

Former Town striker Liam Hatch joined from Darlington along with Jamie Chandler for an undisclosed fee, while Hibernian winger Alan O’Brien signed on loan until the end of the season.

Heed also brought in Carl Magnay, who came through the ranks at Chelsea before the window shut and borrowed Newcastle striker Phil Airey on a month’s loan too.

The stand out player for Gateshead this year though has undoubtedly been striker Jon Shaw, who has swiftly become one of the most sought after players in the Conference thanks to a tremendous 30 goals to his name so far.

Town boss Gary Brabin tested the Tynesiders resolve more than once during the transfer window, but Heed refused to sell their star player, who is out of contract in the summer, to one of their play-off rivals.

In previous meetings, Hatters have never lost at Kenilworth Road to Gateshead, with two wins and one draw to their name.

Team news: Hatters are still without joint leading scorer Amari Morgan-Smith, James Dance, Dan Walker and Dan Gleeson, while Curtis Osano and Dean Beckwith are both struggling.

Craig McAllister, Godfrey Poku and Andre Boucaud are all cup-tied, while with Kevin Pilkington having now left, Lewis Kidd comes into the squad.

In charge: Iain Bogie – midfielder who started his career with Newcastle United, before spells at Preston North End, Millwall and Leyton Orient, and then made over 150 appearance for Port Vale.

Been in charge of Gateshead since 2007 after joining the club as assistant manager, taking over when Tony Lee was sacked.

Led his side out of the Northern Premier League and then the Conference North to win promotion to the Conference where they now have a good chance of making the Football League too.

View from the opposition: Manager Iain Bogie - “We go to Luton with confidence high, but it’ll be a difficult game.

“Luton are a good side, expectations there are very high, but it’s a game we believe we can win.

“I don’t think revenge is quite the right word (after losing 5-1 earlier this season).

“I think the last time Luton were probably worthy of their win. But for half an hour we absolutely dominated the play. “We kept them very quiet and some of the supporters got somewhat disgruntled, but getting that first goal was imperative for them because it got the support on their side. “It’s going to be a difficult test, because other than their defeat to Barrow they’re unbeaten in 14 games. “Having Jon Shaw back, who’s a player that Luton have expressed interest in before, will be a big bonus for us.

One to watch: Has to be Jon Shaw, a player that Luton were desperate to sign during January.

Started his career with Sheffield Wednesday, before prolific spells at both Burton and Halifax, while he also scored goals at Crawley and Barrow too.

Joined Gateshead in August 2010 where the 28-year-old has netted for fun ever since.

Friendly faces: Gateshead brought in former Luton striker Liam Hatch from Darlington for an undisclosed fee last month.

Only scored three times at the Quakers this year, he has already broken his duck for the Tynesiders with a goal in the 3-2 home defeat by Newport County.

Spent the 2009-10 season on loan at Kenilworth Road, but injury prevented his playing as much as he would have hoped, scoring four goals in 22 appearances.

Last time out: Hatters handed out a hammering to Gateshead in their last meeting at Kenilworth Road earlier in the season. Two goals from Jake Howells put Town 2-0 ahead before the break, while Aaron O’Connor netted his first goal for the club on 70 minutes.

Jon Shaw pulled one back, before Jamie Hand came off the bench to score twice, including a sensational left foot volley to complete the win.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, George Pilkington, Curtis Osano, Janos Kovacs, Shane Blackett, Jake Howells, Keith Keane, Robbie Willmott (John Paul Kissock 60), James Dance, Stuart Fleetwood, Amari Morgan-Smith (Aaron O’Connor 12, Jamie Hand 76).

Attendance: 6,285.

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